History reborn: Historic St. Mary's Mission breaks ground on building replica

Perry Backus

On Wednesday, about 20 people gathered to see the beginnings of history being reborn at the Historic St. Mary’s Mission in Stevensville.

With a gold-plated shovel, Historic St. Mary’s Mission board president Bonnie Weisbeck had a brief tussle with the hard, dry ground on the west side of the chapel complex in the groundbreaking ceremony that’s been a decade in the making.

Her goal was to uproot a small piece of sod from the location where a replica of the portion of the original building that burned back in the early 1900s will be built in the coming months.

“This barn and blacksmith shop would certainly have been part of the day-to-day life right here in at St. Mary’s Mission,” said Colleen Meyer, the recently retired longtime director of the site.

Meyer said the celebration also honored the anniversary of the 210th birthday of Father Ravalli, who served a central role in the foundation of the historic site. Father Ravalli was born May 16, 1812 in Italy. During his time at St. Mary’s, he would have spent long hours doing metal and woodwork in the building that will be replicated.

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