Editor’s note: The following is one of a series of columns to run throughout the summer from the Butte Citizens for Preservation and Revitalization.
The Virtual Historic Butte project is available for everyone to see — and for knowledgeable historians and amateurs to expand.
The online property-by-property descriptions at wiki.buttenhld.org form the starting point for an ambitious volunteer effort to describe the history of all 6,000-plus contributing properties in the Butte-Anaconda-Walkerville National Historic Landmark District.
The idea came from Virtual Historic Savannah — and the thought that if Savannah could do it, why not Butte?
Butte Citizens for Preservation and Revitalization applied for a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to support the historians, computer technologists, and researchers who would spend two years on the project, but funding was not granted.
Go for it Enthusiastic volunteers said, “Let’s do it anyway.” Silverbow Software hosts the Web site at no charge, and contributors add to articles when they can. In addition to writing, the project aims to include historic and modern photos of every property — including architectural treasures that Butte has lost, like the National Register-listed Longfellow School.
In the long run, organizers hope that the locations would be built into Google Earth, so that when you click on any building (or vacant lot) in the historic district within Google Earth, you’d be taken to the information we provide on our Web site.
In addition to historic properties, articles have been started on related topics such as architects, streetscapes, and the complex interweaving of Butte’s history with its architectural heritage. Categories allow you to find all the articles on mines, churches, or buildings associated with Butte’s diverse ethnic groups.
More information So far, articles have been started for about 320 buildings, but most of those articles cry for more information.
Only about 45 articles have any real content, so CPR is opening the project to all people who want to contribute.
An approval process ensures that only committed individuals can edit pages, so we will not have the problem of vandalism that haunts other wikis, like Wikipedia, which literally “anyone can edit.” Go to wiki.buttenhld.org to sign up and start contributing.
Dick Gibson is secretary and webmaster for Butte Citizens for Preservation and Revitalization. For more information about CPR, visit www.buttecpr.org or stop by the office on Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., 405 W. Park St., Suite 200.