St. Leo's Catholic Church

Lewistown’s first Catholic church was a small frame structure built in 1888. Visiting priests from distant St. Peter’s Mission, Great Falls, and Fort Benton celebrated mass for the French-Canadian, Indian, and settler congregations. The first resident pastor was appointed in 1893. Less than fifteen years later, Lewistown experienced the beginning of a population boom that extended to 1917. When the Catholic population reached a peak in 1915-16, the need for a new Catholic church became critical. The resident pastor, Reverend Victor J. Van den Broeck, and his building committee chose the well-known firm of Link and Haire to design the new church. Despite the architects’ concerns that the site was too swampy, work on the new church began in July 1915. Bishop Mathias Lenihan of Great Falls dedicated the new structure on November 12, 1916. The design of St. Leo’s Catholic Church incorporates a blend of Italian Early Christian and Romanesque styling on a Roman cross plan. The campanile, or bell tower, rises to a height of 95 feet. Blind arcading, exterior buttressing, rose windows, and intricate brickwork with terra cotta highlights complement the integrity and nobility of this magnificent building. During renovation of the interior in 1991-92, the original tabernacle was restored to use and the earliest confessionals were re-fashioned into the present altar.



124 West Broadway Street, Lewistown, Montana ~ Private