BUTTE - Butte-Silver Bow is finally tearing down the Butte Rescue Mission’s former thrift store location on East Park Street, but not after a lot of controversy and debate.
“It’s been extremely complicated because it’s very emotional with historic buildings and taking down any historic buildings,” said Butte Chief Executive J.P. Gallagher.
Demolition began this week on the building at 123 E. Park Street, which some see as another piece of Butte’s history being destroyed.
“Yeah, it’s a sad day for a lot of us, it’s an incredibly sad day and one that we hoped to avoid,” said historic building supporter Geoff Gallus.
The county went ahead with the demolition despite the Council of Commissioners denying initial plans to tear down the building last April in an 8-2 vote.
However, after an adjacent building was taken down earlier this month, it was determined the thrift store building was too unstable and the county had to act.
“The building inspector and our fire marshal both agree it’s a dangerous situation for the public and for emergency personnel and so demolition was the alternative that we had to go forward with,” said Gallagher.
Those who support preserving Butte’s older buildings believe the county acted too hastily.
“I’m frustrated, along with a lot of other people, I think, that not everyone sees the value in the structures in Uptown Butte,” said Gallus.
Demolishing vacant buildings versus preserving historic structures has been an ongoing debate in Butte.
In July 2021, the Blue Range cribs in Butte’s historic red-light district E. Mercury Street was demolished.
The historic Brincks and Deluxe buildings at Front and Utah were demolished in 2014.
And In October of 2011, the Greek Café building was finally razed after much debate.
Many believe Butte’s historic buildings make the city unique and draw tourism.
“With the lack of commitment to preserving what we have, we’re losing who we are,” said Gallus.
The county will likely take over the property since the Rescue Mission can’t pay for the demolition, and the county will try to sell it or find another use for it.