In 1882, the Baptists established their first church in Butte. By 1890, membership numbered 65 and steadily grew until, at 450 members in 1905, new quarters were imperative. The following year marked the beginning of an unprecedented commercial building boom, and the Butte Miner reported on June 17, 1906, that the week would “…witness the beginning of several splendid structures not exactly in the business heart of the city.” One of these buildings was the impressive First Baptist Church, designed and built by Charles Passmore & Company at a cost of $25,000. Triple-arched windows with beautiful stained glass highlight the main tower, whose pyramidal roof dignifies the neighborhood. Comparison of this church and the nearby Mountain View Methodist Church reveals distinct similarities, but window placement and architectural detailing make each unique.
The original Baptist Church on this site, a frame structure dating to 1885, was reportedly moved to Butte from Rochester, a mining camp about 50 miles south of Butte. The original structure was torn down and the present church was dedicated April 12, 1908.
The large round window on the east side was fabricated by Ford Brothers Glass Company of Minneapolis, and is an example of the Munich School, a style characterized by heavy painting, attention to detail, and elaborate figure placement.
The large ovals flanking the central anchor and cross in the south window are examples of opalescent glass. The swirls and variegated colors are typical of this technique, patented in 1880 by John LaFarge but popularized by his competitor Louis Tiffany.
The round window on the east side, called the Christ Window, was given by a parishioner in memory of his wife.
The large round unsigned window on the south side was presented by the Sunday School. The anchor in the large south window and a smaller window on the east side is the Christian symbol for hope and steadfastness.
The windows in this church were repaired and restored in 1980 thanks to a gift by a longtime member of the church.
After 133 years of worship, Butte’s First Baptist Church closed in 2019 and the building is now privately owned.