From the Library archives: The First Presbyterian Church by Nancy Watts

There were two First Presbyterian Churches built in Lewistown. One was built in 1892 on the corner of Janeaux and 5th Avenue South and the other in 1912 at 215 5th Ave South (where it is now).

The first church:

“…the [Presbyterian] trustees proceeded to buy lots on the corner of 5th Avenue and Janeaux Street… there being no money in the treasury, Mr. Samuel Phillips advanced $150 to pay for two lots. The church was organized on Monday, July 14, 1890… In the spring of 1892… they raised a $6,000 church with a steeple and a McShane bell. (The bell came up the Missouri River by boat and overland from Fort Benton by ox team, 10 or 12 in the team.) In 1912 this same bell was moved over to the new church at Watson and 5th Ave. South. (History of Lewistown compiled by Robert Dissly, 2003 p. 169).

“Feb. 19, 1893, was the opening day for the new church. The building was of brick veneer with stone trimmings and the two rooms have a seating capacity of 300. The cost was $6,000. The carpenters were Charles Rogers, Archie Rogers and Jack Vadnais; the plasterer, Bob Shaw, and Rev. Edwards did the painting…. The church was not dedicated until 1895. (History of Lewistown compiled by Robert Dissly, 2003 p. 170).  

This church was demolished March 30, 1952.

The second church:

“A building committee is now in existence for the purpose of forming preliminary plans for a more satisfactory church edifice. For some time the inadvisability of improving the present plant has been evident and there is great impatience for the moment when the work of rearing a building which will be a credit to central Montana maybe started.” (Fergus County Democrat, December 13, 1910.

“A deal was consummated last week whereby the managing board of the Presbyterian Church sold their property [at 5th and Janeaux], consisting of church building, manse and four lots on the corner of 5th Ave and Janeaux to a syndicate of local capitalists headed by B. E. Stack for $10,000 and purchased of William Blackford two lots on the corner of 5th and Watson adjoining the Hoffman House property, the latter consideration involving $5000. Plans are now being drawn for a new church to cost not less than $30,000. (Fergus County Democrat, May 30, 1911).

The church was constructed by T.J. Tubb and the architects were Wasmansdorff and Eastman.

“Anderson and Miller were last week awarded the contract for excavating for the new Presbyterian Church building on the corner of 5th Ave and Watson St. They have had a big force of men and teams at work for several days and have the job about completed.” (Fergus County Democrat, July 25, 1911).

“At 4:00 o’clock this afternoon the cornerstone of the new Presbyterian Church on 5th Ave will be laid. Reverend Ernest Wright the pastor will officiate at the actual laying of the stone.  Addresses will also be made by Reverend George Edwards the first pastor of the church and Reverend Albert Pfaus another former pastor. The Presbyterian Choir and Sunday school will furnish music for the occasion…The new structure Is now well advanced and when completed toward the end of the season, it will be one of the handsomest church edifices in central Montana.” (Fergus County Democrat, May 28, 1912).

“The Presbyterians held services yesterday in the high school “gym” building and will continue to meet there during this month. A. A. Stapleton, the plumber, now occupies the old Presbyterian Church.” (Fergus County Democrat, July 16, 1912).

“The formal dedication of the handsome new Presbyterian Church occurred Sunday morning. The Methodists held no morning service in order that the members of that church might attend the dedication and Rev E. L. White assisted in the ceremonies.” (Fergus County Democrat, Jan 14, 1913).

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