Helena’s Civic Center is one of the more distinguishable structures along the city’s skyline. The building itself rises six stories high, but what truly sets it apart is its minaret—a seventeen story spire. The strikingly tall tower is something of an anomaly—it’s a unique piece of architecture—and it should come as a shock to no one that the Civic Center was not the structure’s original designation.
Constructed around 1920, the Moorish revival building first served the community as an Algeria Shrine Temple. Shriners held meetings and civic functions here until 1935, when a 6.2 earthquake struck the capital, killing four and causing more than $4 million worth of property damage. Among the buildings devastated by the earthquake were the Helena High School, the Lewis and Clark County Hospital, and the Algeria Shrine Temple.
The Shriners, unable to afford repairs, sold their temple to the city in 1938. It housed government departments for many years, and in 1972, an advisory board was formed to renovate and repurpose the complex as the Helena Civic Center.
Since then, over $2 million has been spent in restorations. The facility houses the Auditorium Theatre (which was the ninth largest in the nation at the time of its completion) and the 15,000-square-foot Ballroom (which includes a catering kitchen and second floor mezzanine). These can be booked separately or together for wedding receptions, art shows, conventions, and other events. The Civic Center offers the Helena community a distinct historic setting for any occasion.
Though COVID-19 has thrown a wrench in the centennial celebration, the Civic Center plans to hold an event as the virus gets under control.
Stay updated at helenaciviccenter.com.