Bozeman First Methodist Episcopal Church

W. W. Alderson, one of Bozeman’s founders, held the first religious services in the area in 1865. The following year, Rev. A. M. Hough officially organized the Methodist Episcopal Church of Bozeman, while Alderson collected subscriptions to construct a frame building at the corner of Main and Tracy. Original church members included John Bozeman, John Mendenhall, D. E. Rouse, Nelson Story, W. H. Tracy, and Davis Willson. By 1869, First Methodist had not only an organ but also the only church bell in town. In 1874, they moved both the bell and belltower to this lot, where they built a Gothic style brick church. The bell had traveled to Fort Benton in 1869 by steamboat and then to Bozeman by oxcart. The belltower stood behind the church until 1905. That year, Swiss immigrant Joseph Uhlrich constructed the three-story square belltower, which still houses the original bell. The expanding church also built a flat-roof, two-story addition to the belltower’s north. Church parlors, a dining room, sewing room, kitchen and pantry occupied the basement. The Ladies’ Aid Society raised much of the money used to expand and maintain the building by hosting “one chicken pie supper after another.” A west side addition, with 350-seat auditorium, was completed in 1949. In 1994, the congregation replaced the original 1874 church with a new structure. While the building has undergone many changes, the 1905 belltower—covered with stucco in 1950—still calls the congregation to gather for worship, as Methodists have done in Bozeman since 1865.

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121 South Willson Avenue, Bozeman, MT ~ public