By Linda Albright
Present use: tours and special events • Preservation new story
Bishop Brondel Xavier Batens created Butte’s second Catholic parish, St. Lawrence O’Toole, in March 1897. Initially, services were held in the Hibernia Hall in Centerville on West Center Street, just west of Main Street, in a building that no long stands. The church was constructed with $25,000 raised by miners’ subscription on land donated by the Butte and Boston Mining Company, the Gothic Revival style church was completed that year in time for Christmas Day mass. Eventually, the church served 5,000 mostly Irish parishioners in the Walkerville/Centerville area. When the church was dedicated in 1898, Bishop Brondel referred to it as "a church of workingmen. There is not a rich man in the congregation. The church was paid for by the small contributions of the poor people." The intensely Irish nature of the church was reflected by its relationship with the radical Robert Emnet Literary Association (RELA), which supported the Irish rebellion. The church drama club asked for, and received, RELA rifles to use in the Christmas play in 1907. By 1910, the St. Lawrence O'Toole had 302 families, with 137 of them headed by widows.
The associated St. Lawrence Catholic School is located at 1226½ N. Main Street, behind the church. It was built in 1904 and owned by the St. Lawrence O’Toole Catholic Church. The outside walls are still standing.
Resources: Historic plaque by Montana Historical Society; The Butte Irish, by David Emmons. Exterior photo by Linda Albright; interiors by Richard Gibson.