BUTTE – Butte’s once bustling Meaderville neighborhood literally vanished without a trace.
“You feel sad for the people who never had to see it. You mention it to the younger generation, ‘Meaderville? Where was that at?’ They don’t even know where it’s at,” said 81-year-old former Meaderville resident Robert Bugni.
This is where it was: Slowly swallowed up by the Berkeley Pit when the Anaconda Co. started doing open pit mining.
“The company bought the people out and they closed everything down,” said 84-year-old Meaderville resident Ben Pezdark.
These three men are the last of Meaderville’s volunteer firefighters who helped build Meaderville’s famous Christmas display back in the ’40s and ’50s.
“The main highway went right through Meaderville from Butte to Helena. People would stop, you had cars backed up half a mile or so waiting to look at the thing,” said Bugni.
Meaderville was a very close-knit community mostly made up of Italian immigrants.
“Everybody had vegetable gardens and gave one another stuff,” said Pezdark.
Meaderville may be long gone, but Chris Fisk and students with the Butte History Club brought back a little piece of the old neighborhood by recreating one of its historic Christmas displays right here at the Racetrack Volunteer Fire Department. It’s a way of bringing the old neighborhood back to life.
“We’d love to have Meaderville back,” said Pezdark.
Story by John Emeigh, MTN News