Plan Now to Attend the Founders Day 175th Anniversary Celebration – September 24, 2016 Activities begin at 10 a.m.
Founded in 1841, St. Mary’s was the first permanent settlement made by European descendants in what became the state of Montana. The mission structure was rebuilt in 1866, with it being added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1970.
As construction began under the supervision of Pierre-Jean De Smet, he described St. Mary’s and the Salish workforce as follows:
The women hewed down the timber, assisted by their husbands, with the greatest alacrity and expedition, and in a few weeks we had constructed a log church, capable of holding 900 persons. To ornament the interior, the women placed mats of a species long grass, which were hung on the roof and sides of the church, and spread over the floor,– it was then adorned with festoons formed of branches of cedar and pine.
The mission complex is open for tours from April through October. The buildings include the chapel with an attached residence, the infirmary, a dove cote, a cabin with Salish artifacts, and a visitor’s center which contains a museum, research library, art gallery and gift shop.