Odd, Old News: ‘Bible Studies’ at the Buhne Building

Old photo of Buhne building

Buhne Bldg, SE 2nd & G. Date Unknown [Photo from the HSU Library, Special Collections, Humboldt Room]

Nuggets of old news is served up once a week by David Heller, one of our local historians.

In 1890 the architecturally beautiful Buhne building at the corner of 2nd and G street in Eureka played host to a group of boys whose stated interest in religion prompted them to rent an upper floor room to pursue their Bible studies. Designed by the architectural firm of Kennitzer and Raun in the “Italianate Renaissance Revival” style for Captain Henry Buhne, construction was completed in 1884, with the downstairs floor designated for stores, the upstairs two floors for offices and apartments and a meeting hall room. One of Eureka’s iconic buildings, its exquisite craftsmanship and history qualified it to be registered in the National Registry of Historic Places.

   Captain Buhne, as many know, had a storied lifetime as the first man to pilot Euro-Americans over the bar at the mouth of the Humboldt Bay in 1850, landing directly opposite on the east side on the promontory that became the site of the short-lived Humboldt City, and later, Buhne Point. Longtime Humboldt Bay tugboat Captain, he was also a dairyman, merchant, Vice President of a local bank, and business investor in timber and railroads. In a lesser known chapter of his life, motivated by health concerns, in the late 1880’s he constructed a summer home and ranch near the mouth of Dean Creek where it enters the South Fork of the Eel River. 

   Currently this historic landmark building has shops and galleries on the first floor, and the upstairs floors are rented out as offices and apartments. One of those upstairs rooms held an interesting story of some youngsters whose “religious studies” no doubt led to some hangovers of Biblical proportions. 

The Humboldt Daily Times

September 3, 1890

    A crowd of youths, none over the age of 14, secured a room in the upper part of the Buhne building recently—Their presence about the building attracted the attention of observer Connell, who upon inquiring of the janitor, was told that they had secured the room for the purpose of organizing a bible class. The boys, during their class meetings in the evenings, made so much noise over their study of the sacred book, that Mr. Connell was inclined to think a dissenter had spring up among them.

Being solicitous of the moral welfare of these young seekers after the truth, he determined to investigate & if possible set their doubts at rest & place their feet in the proper pathway. Thinking that perhaps they had not secured an orthodox edition of the good book, he obtained a passkey & entered the “class-room” to inspect their bible. The first thing that met his inquiring gaze, as he opened the door, was the ‘bible” they had been studying. It stood in one corner with a brass faucet protruding from one end & the covers were branded P.B. It was a capacious volume, holding at least 5 gallons, liquid measure. Around about, were scattered names of “Weiland”, “Pilsenor”, “Budweiser”, & other authors.

So eager had the member of the  “bible class” in their thirst for knowledge, they had imbibed the entire contents of the numerous works they had been studying & nothing remained for their would-be counselor but the smell of the now musty volumes. It is needless to say that the next meeting of the “bible class” has been postponed indefinitely & any anxious parents who have noticed their offspring coming home lately, tired out & full of religion can receive the particulars from Mr. Connell.

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