BUTTE — In a world that has undergone rapid transformation over the past century, the Knights of Columbus building in Butte continues to be a constant.
Built on the southeast corner of Park and Idaho Streets in 1917 — a year before the Allies prevailed in World War I — the sprawling, three-story brick-facade building largely looks and functions the same way it did when it opened.
The unique basement-level basketball court continues to be a draw for everyone from varsity athletes looking for a court to practice on, to rec league players, to kids picking up a ball for the first time. The main level continues to serve as a large gathering area for everything from fundraisers to birthday parties.
A few things have changed. The swimming pool — which was costing the building a small fortune to run — was years ago covered up and replaced with a gym. And the old, inefficient incandescent lights throughout the building were recently retrofitted with new, LED fixtures. Those lights, paid for by a consent decree grant, operate on motion detectors to further cut back on energy costs.
A modern touch in a historic building.
"They are so much cheaper to run," said Bernie Boyle, a retired Butte-Silver Bow Fireman who is the KC Athletic Club Director. "That grant was a Godsend. Our power bill was killing us."
Boyle has been a KC member for 45 years and in Butte is perhaps best known for running the KC Little Kid Basketball Club, a long running youth basketball program that has helped foster some of the Mining City's biggest hoops stars, most recently Butte Central's Dougie Peoples, whose heroics in the State A championship have been well documented.
"There's so many kids that learned how to play basketball here," Boyle said. "All four of my boys played here, I got grandkids that play here. We just got to keep it going."