September 13, 2020 – The Nevada County Historical Landmarks Commission is proud to announce the unveiling last Friday, of a historical landmark plaque commemorating the mining town of Birchville and its St. Columcille’s Church. The plaque is located in front of 22917 Pleasant Valley Rd.
In the 1850s and 60s, Birchville was a booming mining town on the San Juan Ridge.
Just before the Civil War ended, the San Juan and Bridgeport Union Guard Company built an armory in Birchville, midway between those two towns. In 1869, the armory was converted to a Catholic church, St. Columcille’s. In 1949, the Native Daughters of the Golden West erected a monument in front of the church, containing a commemorative plaque. A few years later, church services were discontinued and the building fell into disuse. In 1969, it was purchased by Babe Pinaglia, a local businessman. The church was taken apart and in 1971 was reassembled in Malakoff State Historic Park, where it sits today. The plaque was removed from the monument at some point.
A few years ago, the Landmarks Commission decided to honor the town and the church by putting a plaque back on the monument. Commissioner Chuck Scimeca was instrumental in getting landmark designation and installing the plaque. The Board of Supervisors designated the monument a county historical landmark, NEV 19- 02.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, a brief private unveiling ceremony was held. Lee and Lisa Renner, who own the property on which the monument sits, unveiled the plaque. Hopefully, there will be a public ceremony in the future.
St. Columcille’s Church is featured in the Commission’s interactive map and its book Exploring Nevada County, a guide to all the County’s historical landmarks. The book is available in electronic format for any smartphone or tablet from Apple or Amazon. Go to You Bet Press (youbetpress.com) to find clickable links.
Prefer paper? There are still copies of the last edition available from Comstock Bonanza Press https://bit.ly/2IUHYi0
The purpose of the Nevada County Historical Landmarks Commission is to promote the general welfare of Nevada County and its citizens through official recognition, recording, marking, preserving and promoting the historical resources of Nevada County. For more information, please call 415-264-7230.