Filed Under Helena

Home of Peace

Tranquil, well-cared for grounds provide a lovely setting for the final resting place of many pioneers. The cemetery, established in 1867, is Helena’s oldest active cemetery, Montana’s oldest Jewish cemetery, and one of very few cultural remnants of a once-vital population. Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe came to Montana with the first gold rushes to provide goods and services at Bannack and Virginia City. Along with most of the earliest population, they moved on to Helena in the 1860s and 1870s. The Home of Peace appropriately dignifies these early settlers who showed faith and optimism, investing time and money in their adopted community and contributing significantly to its economic stability. Close-knit families cluster together here as they did in Helena’s neighborhoods. Stone curbing binds households together and brick walkways separate family units. Among the 240 recorded burials, tombstones mark 204. The oldest stone dates to 1870; the first ten graves lie unmarked, outside the modern fence to the north. The 1890s water tower and the cottonwood trees, planted circa 1910, recall a conscious effort to landscape and maintain the grounds. The original 1867 wrought iron fence, extending well beyond the cemetery’s boundaries, illustrates intended expansion. However, as second and third generations came of age, a lack of job opportunities pushed young people elsewhere. Some have returned to their roots and to the Home of Peace for a final resting place. The cemetery is a significant landmark memorializing an ethno-religious group who forged new lives on the western frontier and helped lay the cornerstones upon which Montana’s capital city rests.

Images

Home of Peace 1 View of cemetery with Scratchgravel hills in background Source: iPhone SE digital image Creator: Dan R-A Date: June 2022
Home of Peace Home of Peace. West entrance gate, looking east. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office Creator: Ellen Baumler Date: Sept. 2005
Home of Peace Home of Peace. View of the rear gate (east gate), facing east with Capital High School in the background. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office Creator: Ellen Baumler Date: Sept. 2005
Home of Peace Home of Peace. View of Sands Plot, facing east with Capital High School in the background. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office Creator: Ellen Baumler Date: Sept. 2005
Home of Peace Home of Peace. View of a large gravestone, facing southeast with Capital High School in the background. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office Creator: Ellen Baumler Date: Sept. 2005
Home of Peace Home of Peace. View of the north fence, facing north. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office Creator: Ellen Baumler Date: Sept. 2005
Home of Peace Home of Peace. View of a water tank and sheds on the premises, facing north to northwest. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office Creator: Ellen Baumler Date: Sept. 2005

Location

Alexander Street between Brady Street and Custer Avenue, Helena, Montana | Private

Metadata

The Montana National Register Sign Program, “Home of Peace,” Historic Montana, accessed December 7, 2022, https://historicmt.org/items/show/807.