A small stone building erected on this site in 1881 was one of Butte’s first churches. After 1900, the church was remodeled several times, incorporating the original building into a much larger structure. When fire swept through the chancel in 1919, one of Butte’s first preservation projects followed. Though not identical to the original, the restoration completed in 1921 is sympathetic to the original design. Today the crenelated towers and magnificent stained-glass window of St. John’s provide an excellent example of the Norman style as adapted to the Episcopal church in the United States.
Most of the windows in St. John’s were manufactured by J&R Lamb Studios, a prestigious New York firm established in 1857. Lamb Studios is the oldest decorative arts studio in continuous operation in the United States, and has created more than 15,000 art glass works. Most of the windows in St. John’s are signed by Lamb Studios.
The 10-by-20-foot window on the east end of the church depicts St. John in a scene from the Book of Revelation. More than a year of work by the artists at Lamb Studios was required to create this design, almost entirely in glass. Paint is used only on the hands, faces, and feet of the figures.
The first window on the north side is dedicated to a mining engineer who was President of the Montana School of Mines (now Montana Tech). The window shows a miner’s hard hat and carbide lamp in the lower left corner, and a pick and shovel.
The third window on the north side shows the insignia of three armed forces, Army, Navy, and Marines. It was dedicated to the memory of the son of a rector of this parish, a naval aviator who died at sea in World War II.
Two windows that were not made by Lamb Studios were gifts from Copper King W.A. Clark. The window behind the altar represents the Savior as a lamb of sacrifice and the Shepherd gently carrying His lambs to the fold for safety. Clark and his wife Kate commissioned this window in memory of their daughter Jessie, who died at Deer Lodge, Montana, in 1878 just three weeks before her third birthday. Among the wealthiest men in the country at that time, Clark brought artist Pompeo Bertini, known for his work in the Cathedral of Milan, to Butte to design this masterpiece.
A window depicting Christ beside the Sea of Galilee was also donated by the W.A. Clark family. This window is probably the only side window that is not by Lamb Studios.