Winter winds from the past two years have torn off metal roofing exposing old layers of wood shingles, said Brian Rumsey, board member of the Pony Homecoming Club, which owns the old structure.
The homecoming club is raising funds to remove three layers of roofing, stabilize the roof structure and install new metal roofing, Rumsey said.
“This time we’ll rip ‘er all the way down to the rafters,” he said.
The project is slated to cost a total of about $15,000, but Bridger Steel out of Bozeman has donated the metal roofing material.
The homecoming club is also hosting a fundraiser for the project on March 3 at the Pony Bar. The event will include a spaghetti feed, live auction and music by the Blue Moon Band.
The Pony Gym is one of the most prominent structures in the little town nestled in the foothills of the Tobacco Root Mountains. It sits next to the old schoolhouse. The homecoming club owns both buildings.
The schoolhouse was built in 1902 back when the mining industry had made Pony a relative boomtown. The school had more than 160 students at one time, said Gerry Ohs a local rancher and member of the homecoming club.
The gymnasium was built in about 1920 and served as a place for basketball games, community gatherings, Christmas pageants and variety of other social functions, Ohs said.
On Monday, he and Rumsey were trying to figure out the best way to hang up a new basketball hoop in the old gym.
The Pony Homecoming Club bought the gym in 1961. The club formed about then as a way to promote community activities and preserve some of Pony’s most important structures. Besides the gym and the school, the group also owns an old church in town, Rumsey said. The group also takes care of the community park.
“We preserve the buildings and try to create a community spirit for Norris, Harrison and Pony,” he said.
The gym and the school get used for weddings and parties and each year the Old Time Fiddlers use both buildings for their gathering, Rumsey said.
“I’d like to see it used more,” he said.
The homecoming club has plans to put a kitchen in the main floor of the gym, which could make it more useful for folks, Rumsey said.
Taking care of the old gym is important for the homecoming club and Pony community because it still holds a place of importance in the community, Ohs said. And this importance grows as time passes.
“I think the past becomes more valuable to us as the years go on,” he said. “We treasure it more than we did when we were younger.”
The Pony Homecoming Club has about 150 members and dues are $10 a year. Donations for the club can be sent to Pony Homecoming Club, PO Box 654 Pony, MT 59747.
The Pony Gym benefit will be at the Pony Bar, March 3 with a live auction at 4 p.m. and spaghetti dinner at 5:30. Music and dancing starts at 7 p.m. with the Blue Moon Band.