Helena was a raucous gold-mining town when Bishop Daniel Sylvester Tuttle and the Rev. E. N. Goddard held their first Sunday services on August 11, 1867. Sunday streets were crowded with men and teams. Auctioneers were selling wares, hurdy-gurdy houses were thronged and more than one hundred businesses were open. Sunday was not the Lord's Day! It was a day for miners to come to town, stock up on supplies and relax.
On another visit, Bishop Tuttle formed a Bishop's committee to create an Episcopal mission in Helena. He launched this effort by celebrating Holy Eucharist at the courthouse on March 28, 1869. Later that year, he paid $1,200 for property on which to build a church. On Warren and Grand Streets, a stone church complete with a bell tower was soon complete for the price of $12,000. The original bell and brass altar rail grace our church today. You can find a painting of that first building in the stairway at the back of the church. Holy Eucharist was first celebrated there on October 19, 1879. The building was consecrated on Nov. 11, 1881.
In 1927, The Rev. Henry Daniels began a capital campaign for a new larger church. The present land on Park Avenue was purchased in 1930. Bishop William F. Faber laid the cornerstone on Sept. 10, 1931. Harold Whitehouse who also built Episcopal churches in Missoula, Butte and the lovely cathedral in Spokane, was the architect. The cost was $90,000 - a huge sum and an act of faith in the Great Depression. Bishop Faber dedicated the new church on Easter, March 27, 1932 and designated it the pro-cathedral of the diocese. Father Daniels became the first of six deans of the cathedral (the Very Rev. Charles Wilson, The Very Rev. Raymond D. Brown, the Very Rev. Jim Reeves, the Very Rev. Arch Hewitt and the Very Rev. Stephen Brehe) until it reverted to parish status in the mid-1990's. In November 2004, St. Peter's was once again dedicated the cathedral church of the diocese. In 1941, the church built a deanery for Dean Wilson and his family. It now serves as the Bishop's office. An educational building was added in 1959 and later named Wilson Hall in honor of Dean Wilson's 26 years of service.
Today, Sundays in Helena are a bit quieter. St. Peter's raised up many community leaders over the years and it all began with pioneering men and women.