Medora in Billings County, North Dakota — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
St. Mary’s Catholic Church
Medora de Vallombrosa, wife of the Marquis de Mores, financed the construction of this brick church late in the summer of 1884. This gift to her namesake community was paid for from an annual income of $90,000, earned from a stock portfolio she received from her father before her marriage. Before the church was built, Medora had welcomed the visiting priest to hold mass once a month in her home, the Chateau de Mores.
Peter Book, who operated a brick factory south of Medora, was the contractor for the church. The quality and color of the abundant clay in the badlands was excellent for brickmaking.
The cornerstone, laid on September 20, 1884, was inscribed with “Marquise de Mores, September 15, 1884,” on one side and “Athenais” on the other.
While Medora’s mother and daughter were both named Athenais, it was generally assumed by locals that Athenais refers to her infant daughter.
St. Mary’s Church is the oldest Catholic Church still in use in the Bismarck Diocese. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The interior has been updated over the years, but the first four pews and the altar are from the 1884 building.
(Marker Number 26.)
Location. 46° 54.881′ N, 103° 31.372′ Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Medora ND 58645, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Coal Mining (within shouting distance of this marker); Rough Riders Hotel (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Von Hoffman House (about 400 feet away); Medora Education (about 500 feet away); Margaret Roberts (about 500 feet away); Medora Business District (about 600 feet away); Medora Livery Stable (about 600 feet away); The President Returns (about 600 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Medora.
More about this marker. An early photograph of St. Mary’s Church appears at the bottom of the marker. A photo of the church, taken by the Marquis de Mores in 1889, is at the top left of the marker. Next to this is a baby picture of Athenais de Vallombrosa.
Categories. • Churches, Etc. •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on September 1, 2015, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 172 times since then and 28 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on September 1, 2015, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.