Continue to watch this page as we celebrate the 125th anniversary Gold Hill Evangelical Lutheran Church on the same year as we celebrate the 500th anniversary of reformation.
Did You Know?
In 1890 our first church building was the former "International Order of Good Templar's Hall" on Broadway Street. It was purchased for $100.00 and moved to stand on the "Gold Hill" mining claim at the corner of Alaska and Copper Streets. Thus the name, Gold Hill!
To the credit of our congregation, it must be said that its people loved and appreciated one another. The emphasis was on fellowship, and everyone was welcome; those tap-dancing Melby girls and Hans Boe, former Butte postmaster, and especially all the single miners so far from home. One of the pastor's main roles was of unofficial social worker; getting Norwegian immigrant boys out of the local jail!
Original Church Building (1892 - 1937)
The Construction Years, 1936-1940
By Peggy Graving, Member
In early 1936, under the enthusiastic leadership of Elling Halvorson, the council of the Gold Hill Norwegian Lutheran Church appointed a committee of fourteen to find a site and begin the construction of the new church. (See figure 1 above; Pastor Neste on the far left) The land was given to the Church by the Anaconda Company and the location on Placer Street was ideal for a new building.
Ground was broken during a ceremony on April 25, 1937 by the church’s oldest member, Martin Bjorgum, and his grandson, Howard Hawk. (See above). Using volunteer labor from the high school and the members of Gold Hill, the church was constructed of brick. The brick was reclaimed from homes that were taken down at the site of the new Butte High School. The bricks needed to be cleaned by hand and Pete Godtland, age 10, said that was his job.
On April 25, 1937 the corner stone of the church was placed where it is today on the southwest corner of the narthex (see figure 3 above). The church was not yet ready for services. The inside was not completed until February of 1939 when the first services were held (figure 4).
The choir was planning a special service of song for the first Easter celebration in the new church and new robes needed to be purchased. The choir held bimonthly meetings where song selections, sheet music purchases and new robes were discussed. The choir raised their own money for the sheet music and the robes leaving $15 in their treasury.
In March, 1939 Luther League was organized with their first meeting held on Sunday, March 12. The Luther League sponsored a feature film "The March of Faith" to raise money for new hymnals for the church.
The Ladies Aid did not sit quietly while other groups raised funds for the new church. They had their monthly meetings with recitations, solos, and ensembles by the youth. Some of these youth we know well: Pete, Anna, and Ralph Godtland, Robert Taylor, and Carol Chrisman (Godtland). Bake goods were sold, lunches were held, garage sales on Park Street collected dollars, and Lutefisk Dinners were successful fundraisers. Every third month they donated their funds to the church treasury.
Pastor Neste came each Sunday by train from Anaconda where he was also serving as Pastor, to continue meeting the needs of our congregation. As an officer of the Committee on Home Mission and Church Extension of the Rocky Mountain District, Pastor Neste was instrumental in securing interns who lived in Butte and served our congregation. They included Everett Gilbertson (1938-39), Warren Strain (1939-40), and Edward Goetz (1940-41). These interns helped oversee the day to day construction and congregational needs of Gold Hill.
At last the church was dedicated on July 14, 1940. Bishop A.M. Skindlov, Pastor T.P. Neste, Pastor L. Thompson and Warren Strain, Intern, officiated (figure 5). Our new church retained several important pieces of furniture from the old church on Alaska Street and they are still with us today: the pews in the balcony, the baptismal font, and the large throne-like chair sometimes used by our Pastors. Take the time to look closely at these pieces.