Last Update: 10/6/2016
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. Historic St. Mary’s Mission, Inc., continually strives to strengthen ties with, and acknowledge its roots in Native American culture, while preserving the area’s delicate past for future generations.
Formed in 1988, Historic St. Mary’s, Inc., is a non-profit organization. The goal of the organization is to preserve, restore, maintain and promote the Mission Complex founded in 1841 by Jesuit priests under the leadership of Father Pierre Jean De Smet, S.J. The town of Stevensville and the State of Montana were formed from these early beginnings.
The Mission is administered by a seven member Board and operated by a Director. Volunteers serve as tour guides, grounds keepers, clerical workers and see to the operation of the gift shop.
The maintenance and operation of the Mission is reliant on donations, tour fees, gift shop sales and grants. Programs such as the $2 A Month Club also help support operating costs. For travelers and local visitors alike, the old Mission affords a look back to the State of Montana's earliest beginnings - the place where agriculture, medicine, education and religion were first introduced.
The Mission Complex is open for tours from April 15 through October 15. Groups and school tours are always welcome.
The web site provides a "tour" for those unable to visit in person. Here you will find photos, the history of the Mission Complex, and discover the roles the Salish people, Fr. De Smet and Fr. Anthony Ravalli, S.J. played in its development. Educators: Historic St. Mary's Mission provides an Indian Education instructional program for teachers and students. The program follows the state instructional guidelines. Additional information on the Indian Education For All program. Historic St. Mary's Mission stands in the shadow of St. Mary's Peak in the Bitterroot Valley of Montana. Fr. Pierre De Smet, a Jesuit priest, founded the Mission in 1841. The State of Montana grew from those early beginnings of the settlement first called St. Mary’s and later named Stevensville. The town holds the distinct honor of being the place “Where Montana Began”. The well-preserved buildings and artifacts of the Mission Complex afford visitors a look back at the historical beginnings of the birth of the State and the settlement of the West. In 2010 the Historic St. Mary's Mission complex was added to the National Register of Historic Places. This was the culmination of over four years of work by both local and state contributors. More information on the Historical Designation.
P.O. Box 211
West End of 4th Street
Stevensville, MT 59870
Watercolor depicting arrival of the "Black Robes"
by Fr. Nicholas Point, S.J.
click image for larger view
12x12 Brick Paver - $130.00
Historic Replica of Ox Cart and Barn
Jesuit Fathers Pierre DeSmet, Nicolas Point, Gregory Mengarini, along with Brothers Charles Huet, Joseph Specht, and William Claessens brought the first two-wheeled carts into what would be known 23 years later as Montana Territory. The carts carried their belongings and supplies as they were escorted by the Indians to the Bitter Root Valley in 1841 where they settled on the east bank of the river. A drawing by Fr. Point reveals the size and shape of the carts.
Stevensville woodwright, Chris Weatherly, built a replica of the Ox Cart for permanent display on the grounds at St. Mary's Mission. Following much research, Chris located blueprints for building a Red River Cart published by the Smithsonian Institution. He also built the barn to house the Ox Cart for exhibit.
Historic St. Mary's Mission, Inc. * All Rights Reserved
National Historic District
Two sizes of memorial bricks will be placed on the East and North sides of the ox cart barn.
6 X 12 - $65.00
12 x 12 - $130.00
Contact Historic St. Mary's Mission for more information on ordering.
Arrival of the 'Black Robes'
Historic St. Mary's Mission, Inc. is a non-profit organization established to preserve the historic mission and to provide an educational resource. Maintenance of the mission is funded by tax-deductible donations, tour fees and gift shop sales. A receipt will be mailed upon our receiving your donation. To aid in the preservation of this historic site:
Seasonal Hours of Operation
April 15 - October 15
Tuesday - Friday 10 to 4
Saturday 11 to 3
April 15 - October 15
Tuesday - Friday 10 to 5
Saturday 11 to 3
Christmas shopping by appointment at 406-777-5734
We encourage schools to book Spring and Fall field trips to the site "Where Montana Began", with Indian Education for All lessons.
Hot air balloons high above the Salish encampment replica at Historic St. Mary's mission.