Preserving Montana's Catholic Heritage : Helena Diocesan Structures and Historic Preservation
Object ID:
2013.003.011
Description:
St. Mary of the Assumption Church is a well—maintained architect—designed masonry structure located along the main street on the west side of Laurin, Montana. St. Mary has served as the primary Catholic church for a widely—dispersed mining and agricultural population within the Ruby Valley of southwestern Montana for nearly 112 years.

After gold was discovered in nearby Alder Gulch in 1863 and a rush of fortune seekers flooded the area, this small community became established as an important trading post for the entire valley. Father Francis Kelleher, an English priest and accomplished musician, built the first church in Laurin which was dedicated on 15 August 1877 by Bishop James O'Connor of Omaha. Jean Baptiste Laurin who opened the original post, was the founder of the town. With 10,000 miners in the area, Laurin became one of the wealthiest citizens and shared his wealth to promote the success of the town.

In 1897, after Jean Baptiste and his wife had died, $8,000 was donated in her name toward construction of a new Catholic church in the town. Local men hauled the rust sandstone out of Taylor Canyon southwest of Alder where it had been quarried. Leonard Moran, husband of Mildred Moran, long time sacristan of St. Mary's, wrote "When the contractor needed rocks, he called in local ranchers to haul them out with teams and wagons. It was all done by charity."
Bishop Brondel dedicated this new Gothic St. Mary's of the Assumption Church on 01 September 1901.

Today, the interior of the church remains essentially the same as when originally constructed. The vaulted ceiling has attractive, ornamental oak wood trusses with oak wainscoting. The "high altar" or reredos with carved leaves, crosses and arches is from France. The cost was $1000. The windows also most likely came from France, as the older parishioners have always thought.
The outside bell, cast in Cincinnati in 1848 and transported by ferry steamer and wagon train to Virginia City in 1866 for All Saints Church, was given to the city as a fire alarm, when that church declined with the population. Later it was reclaimed and refurbished by the Knights of Columbus and installed at St. Mary's.

The original Laurin wood framed Catholic Church built in 1877 and located adjacent to St. Mary Church, is used as the parish hall. .In 1985 St. Mary of the Assumption Church was listed in the National Registry of Historic Places.
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St. Mary of the Assumption Church, Laurin, MTSt. Mary of the Assumption Church, Laurin, MT
St. Mary of the Assumption, Laurin, interiorSt. Mary of the Assumption, Laurin, interior