Our Lady of Tears Catholic Church in Silver City
Third Oldest Surviving Catholic Parish in the State of Idaho
When visiting historic Silver City, Idaho, in mid-June of 2016 with Jacquie Rogers’s Much Ado About Silver City event, we had the privilege of touring the nearly 120 year-old church seated high on a rocky outcropping overlooking the rugged valley. The caretaker, Dave Wilper, allowed us to take pictures and spoke at length about the building’s history, the various groups that had owned the structure, the restoration projects that had been concluded and those (such as shoring up the foundation) that have yet to be done.
HISTORY OF OUR LADY OF TEARS
The present church of “Our Lady of Tears” dates back to 1898. The building started out as “St. James Episcopal Church”. The presence of the Episcopal church in Silver City dates back to 1866… By the 1890’s, the Episcopal Ladies Guild had raised enough money to build a permanent church. and in 1898, construction was begun on the building… St. James served the episcopal congregation in Silver City until the 1920’s. By that time the mining operations had wound down, most of the congregation had moved away, and the building sat alone on the hill, unused… In 1928 the Catholic Diocese of Boise took possession of the building and it was dedicated as “Our Lady of Tears Catholic Church”.
For many years the church remained open to the elements and vandals. All of the beautiful leaded glass windows were broken out and the few furnishings that remained were carried off. The only things still here that are original to the building are the stove and the small altar in the sanctuary. By the 1950’s the building was in pretty bad shape.
The large, ornate high altar in the back of the sanctuary, came from the old church that was torn down in the 1920’s. It survived the Sinker Creek Flood because it had been stored in the back room of this church rather than at the Joyce Ranch.
…the pump organ to the left of the sanctuary was also stored here in the church. Through the years we’ve had many things donated to complete the furnishings for a typical mission church of that period around the turn of the century.
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Copyright © 2016 Kristin Holt, LC
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