Lost Butte, Montana, a book by Richard I. Gibson, is in stores and museum gift shops around Butte. Or order from the publisher. It's also in E-book formats at all the usual places. And read an interview with Gibson, here, and on KXLF here. The Facebook page has many historic photos of Butte, and the Butte-Anaconda NHLD project showcases many historic buildings. Location-oriented posts can be found on HistoryPin. On Mondays beginning in January 2016, look for Gibson's "Mining City History" column in the Montana Standard.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Tale of Two Churches

1939: Scandinavian Church (left center) at Alaska and Copper Streets.
Despite Butte’s rowdy, wide-open-town reputation, churches have always had an important role in the community. Two churches once guarded the northern corners of the intersection of Copper and Alaska Streets, but today these are vacant lots.

The northwest corner (101 W. Copper) held the Scandinavian Methodist Episcopal Church, built between 1891 and 1900. You can see its 45-foot tower at left center in the photo here. (Along the left edge is the O’Rourke apartments; at center, to right and in front of the church is the Bail Bonds/Union building; the mine complex in the distance is the Original.) The church was actually on the second floor, with housekeeping rooms on the first level. Butte architect Pete Godtland tells me his mother worked there. The building was still standing in 1957 and I haven’t determined exactly when it disappeared, but the upper floor was vacated before 1951 and the building was being used as a two-flat apartment on the first floor only.

The opposite corner, 51 W. Copper, was home to Gold Hill United Lutheran Church (later, Gold Hill Norwegian United Church). In 1890 this corner was occupied by a 1½-story house, probably a small 4-square building like the others in this block. The 2-story church building was erected there by 1891, but was vacant then; the church occupied the structure by 1900 and a dwelling—presumably the minister’s—was in the basement. This church was gone by 1951. The new Gold Hill Lutheran Church is at 934 Placer Street today.

Photo taken summer 1939 by Arthur Rothstein (FSA/OWI).

1 comment:

  1. Good post, Dick. I also like the class structure embodied in Butte churches: a big fancy Presbyter Church for the banking and professional middle class; predominantly Catholic churches (Byzantium/Greek/Serb East and Roman West) for the working classes, and a smattering of others.