Historic St. Mary’s Mission in Stevensville held a groundbreaking last week for a building they will be adding to the grounds. Although they are calling the building a “barn” it will be more like a workshop, according to Chris Weatherly, local builder who specializes in historic structures and historic renovation.
Colleen Meyer, board member and former director of Historic St. Mary’s Mission, said that the new addition, which will be directly behind and adjacent to the chapel, has been discussed by the board for over 10 years. She said it was appropriate that the day of the groundbreaking was the 210th anniversary of the birth of Father Anthony Ravalli, the beloved Jesuit priest for whom our county is named. Ravalli was a man of many talents, including woodworking and metal work, and the new building will replicate the building where he did much of his work.
Weatherly said that the original “barn” burned down in 1900, and he was relying on old photos for the design and choice of materials. It will be about 12 feet by 20 feet, made of hand-hewn logs with some notchwork on the corners. It will have a dirt/gravel floor and a big door on the west side. The building will be one-and-a-half stories, with an upstairs which historically would have been a place for visitors to stay.
Meyer said the new building will add to the collection of structures that the many visitors to the historic site can view. Dora Bradt, the new executive director at St. Mary’s, thanked the board members, volunteers and the community for all their support. And she acknowledged Weatherly, who has done much of the preservation work at the Mission. “We are honored to have Chris in charge of this project,” said Bradt.
People wishing to donate to the project, or support the Mission in general, can find more information on the website at: stmarysmission.org