Saint John the Baptist Catholic Church

Mullan Rd., Frenchtown, Montana


St John the Baptist Catholic Church Frenchtown MT

Photo taken by David Jones in July 2015




"French-speaking immigrants from Quebec and eastern Canada settled here in the Missoula Valley in the late 1850s. By 1864, French-Canadian Catholics worshiped in a crude log chapel, the second church in Montana Territory established for non-Native Americans. The Rev. S. J. Tremblay, the communityís first secular priest, arrived from Montreal in 1884 and at once realized the need for a larger church. The cornerstone was laid during the St. Johnís Day Celebration in June of that year. Shipís carpenter Lugar Forast is credited with the design. All labor and materials were furnished by the parish community. Built at a cost of $8,000, St. John the Baptist Catholic Church was dedicated on August 10, 1884. Montanaís oldest Catholic church in continuous use, its simple plan recalls classical revival traditions. Its arched doors and windows, bell-capped tower, and barrel vaulted ceiling are reminiscent of late Romanesque style. The bell, installed in 1885, carries a dedication inscribed in French. A winding staircase constructed with wooden pegs and magnificent carpentry grace the interior. The red, white, and blue color scheme commemorates the French national flag. Original pews, numbered and divided for individual families, remain in place. In an attempt to maintain French heritage, from 1914 to 1922 the Sisters of Providence staffed an academy under the auspices of St. Johnís offering children a Christian education taught in French. Although the community now embraces cultural diversity, St. Johnís remains a heritage landmark and a tribute to its founding families." - NRHP/Montana Historical Society plaque

National Register information 

Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on March 27, 1986
Reference number
Architectural style
Mid 19th Century Revival: Exotic Revival
Areas of significance
Ethnic Heritage - European; Architecture
Level of significance
Evaluation criteria
A - Event; C - Design/Construction
Property type
Historic function
Religious structure
Current function
Religious structure
Period of significance
Significant year
Number of properties
Contributing buildings: 1
Non-contributing buildings: 1

Update Log 

  • January 27, 2020: New photo from Bill Eichelberger
  • July 24, 2019: Updated by Richard Doody: Added historical information
  • May 29, 2019: New photos from David Jones