Virginia City Methodist Church

Virginia City Historic District

Virginia City witnessed Montana’s first Methodist services in 1864. By 1874, however, too many residents had succumbed to “depraved and wicked conditions.” Well-known itinerant ministers Revs. W. W. Van Orsdel and T. C. Iliff, then resident pastors at Virginia City, successfully held a revival to inspire the congregation. On May 4, 1875, a large and reverent crowd gathered to witness the laying of the cornerstone of the Grace Methodist Episcopal Church. Territorial Governor Benjamin Potts and Judge Henry Blake delivered addresses. Construction under D. C. Farwell proceeded rapidly. The church was, however, unfinished on August 28 when the first service was held there: the well-attended funeral of Alder Gulch discoverer William Fairweather. The finished church, dedicated on November 14, had a debt of $1,013. The guest speaker, Rev. Clark Wright of Helena, stood before the congregation, made an eloquent plea, and the debt was paid before the service ended. The building, its rubblestone walls covered in stucco, functioned as a church until 1900. A Gothic-arched entry, Gothic windows—two with original tracery—and a nameplate, which reads “M.E. Church 1875,” recall the building’s origins.

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124 West Idaho Street, Virginia City, Montana ~ Public