Montana’s first permanent settlement is thriving as a great little community - overflowing with small town charm. The Stevensville Main Street organization, working with all of the community businesses, strives to ensure that the community grows and prospers.
The first Friday of every month residents and visitors enjoy ‘First Friday’ when the Main Street Businesses stay open late and show you their Stevensville hospitality. In the summer there are many community events, including Western Heritage Days and the Creamery Picnic.
Historic St. Mary’s Mission
Where Montana began - 170 years ago! Fr. Pierre DeSmet, S.J., founded Historic St. Mary’s Mission in 1841. St. Mary’s Mission was established because of the determination of several Native American tribes seeking “Blackrobes” as their teachers. Fr. Anthony Ravalli, S.J. was recruited from Italy. He designed and helped build the log chapel that stands today. The interior of the
chapel has been restored to the original
colors of the 1880 era. Its furnishings are
the handiwork of Fr. Ravalli, Montana’s
first medical doctor. The attached study
and dining room, as well as Fr. Ravalli’s house/pharmacy, are completely restored
and furnished with items made by him.
Chief Victor’s cabin houses a Salish museum.
An outdoor diorama features three
significant figures in the founding of St.
Mary’s Mission. The wooden sculptures
were carved by local artists and represent Chief Big Face, Fr. DeSmet, and Chief Victor. Fr. Ravalli rests with the Salish Indians in
St. Mary’s Cemetery. The handicapped-accessible Visitors Center includes a gift
shop, museum, art gallery, research library, and public rest rooms.
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, St. Mary’s Mission is a cultural and historical icon of the early days of the American West. The Mission speaks to guests of a time when life was much different. Visitors can feel the past meld with the present. They are transformed by visiting the chapel and Fr. Ravalli’s cabin and pharmacy.
|They experience a reverent silence when stepping into the Salish lodge. By strolling the grounds, visitors allow the valley and all of its splendor to encompass them. St. Mary’s Mission is a treasure, not just to Stevensville, Ravalli County and to Montana, but to our nation as well! It represents the first permanent settlement in the state as well as the first church in the Northwest. It truly is “Where Montana Began.”
A visit to Historic St. Mary’s Mission gives insight into the historical, and so often magical, past of Montana. It is living history touching people in a way few things can.
St. Mary’s Mission Guided Tours
April 15 – Oct. 15 10am – 4pm
St. Citizens $7 Adults $6 Students $5
Group tours by appointment
Length of guided tour: 1:15 hour
Friends of the Mission