St. Philip’s Episcopal Church (Rosebud Community Chapel)

From its origins as a railroad siding established by the Northern Pacific in 1882, Rosebud grew into a bustling homesteading community. The town boasted 300 residents when Fred and Mary Mefford arrived from the Midwest in 1896, bringing with them a strong religious faith and a commitment to community building. A devout Episcopalian, Mary founded a sewing circle, which evolved into an active church guild, and taught Sunday school. Fred arranged for the Miles City minister to travel regularly to Rosebud to hold services in the schoolhouse. In 1906 they decided to build a church. Fred donated the land and hired local builder Alfred Drescher to supervise construction. He also wrote off a $300 debt owed to his hardware store in exchange for cottonwood logs, which farmer Billy Merrill cut from his land and hauled to the church site. The resultant square-notched log church, named St. Philip’s Episcopal, features decorative shingles in the south gable end; a square, hip-roofed bell tower; and Gothic arched windows with stained glass imported from Bavaria. Nearly everyone in town (Episcopalians and non-Episcopalians alike) helped with construction in some way. Store owner Rod McCrae, who also served Rosebud as postmaster, justice of the peace, and first schoolteacher, donated the church bell, which came upriver by steamboat. Proceeds from a St. Patrick’s Day dance provided money to purchase the church’s first organ. In 1968, the Episcopal diocese sold the building; today, the church operates as the Rosebud Community Chapel.

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701 Main Street, Rosebud, Montana ~ Private