Sentinel Butte to open old church doors for city businessSENTINEL BUTTE — A church that sat empty for about 20 years has opened its doors again. Only this time, there won’t be any pews to fill. People will open its doors for city business.
SENTINEL BUTTE — A church that sat empty for about 20 years has opened its doors again. Only this time, there won’t be any pews to fill. People will open its doors for city business.
“This is such a beautiful building,” Sentinel Butte Mayor Rick Olson said. “The church is beautiful.”
The city purchased St. Michael's Catholic Church with its bell tower from Sentinel Butte-based Home on the Range, which is a juvenile correctional center. The city made the purchase in March 2011 for $20,000.
Home on the Range sold the building because it was not being used and it was deteriorating, executive director Jay Johnson said.
The lobby doubles as a post office.
“It’s actually helping the whole community already,” resident Sue Feldman said, adding the city will maintain the building.
Bids are being reviewed for upgrading to meet requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The building should be open for business May 15.
City council meetings are held in the Sentinel Butte Fire Hall. Olson said city officials needed their own space.
“The meetings were fine. We just took over,” he said. “We had papers everywhere. We had tables stretched out. It was time to move out.”
While offices have taken the place of the pews, candles and holy water fountains, the city wanted to maintain some of the structure of the church so people could enjoy it.
Olson has heard nothing but good things about the transition, he said. Residents are glad there will be a place for city government.
“That entrance is going to be open 24/7,” resident Pete Novotny said. “It’s too nice a building to have it sit there.”
Olson said it will be “a great asset to the community.
“It’s going to be more accessible because the auditor will actually be here so many hours a day,” he said.