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First Presbyterian Church has been blessed with beautiful stained glass windows, an Estey Pipe organ, and a prominent location at the head of Main Street in Miles City, Montana. The church is a contributing member of the Main Street Historic District in Miles City, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989.
The land on which the present church building is located was given to the church in 1882 by charter members George and Helen Miles. The original Presbyterian Church was moved across the alley to North Prairie Avenue to make room for the present church. The first church was sold and later torn down, but its steeple was saved and now stands on the grounds of the Range Riders Museum, serving as a monument to all churches in Miles City.
In 1911, trustees of the church discussed constructing a newer, larger church, in the price range of $30,000 - $40,000. According to the historical register’s sign on the front facade of the church, Pastor J. Forsythe Smith thought a new house of worship would “provide better social advantages, better intellectual advantages and better moral and spiritual advantages.”
Miles City architect Brynjulf Rivenes designed the new church with an edifice of concrete and brick. The cornerstone, which was laid on November 26, 1914, was donated by Western Granite and Marble Works of Miles City. The main stained glass window of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane faces North Montana Avenue and was given to the church by C.N. Strevell. On the building’s south side, that fronts Main Street, the main stained glass window on the second floor pictures Christ’s resurrection and was given in memory of Mrs. Helen Strevell Miles.
George M. Miles gifted an Estey pipe organ to the church. This organ, with 871 pipes, was designed for the church so it would fit the organ chamber. It weighs 14,960 pounds and was built by the Estey Organ Company of Brattleboro, Vermont. The church is fortunate to have committed members who have generously contributed financially throughout the years. This has resulted in our wonderful Gothic Revival style building (dedicated in 1917) being in excellent condition inside and out. The majority of improvements, from 1997 through 2010, have been made with designated gifts.
Renovation and painting of the second floor Sunday school rooms in 2001 and 2002 and the installation of the handicapped accessible elevator in 2001 were God inspired projects of utmost importance in meeting the needs of members and visitors. Other major projects have included a new heating and cooling system, T-Loop system (allows hearing impaired people to clearly hear sermons, etc. in the sanctuary), repair of the stained-glass windows, carpeting in various areas of the church, a free-standing lighted church sign, a National Register of Historic Places sign for the building, new lighting, floor refinishing and parking lot and grounds maintenance. These projects totaled upwards of $400,000.These improvements and numerous other additions and updates have made our church a fully functional House of God.
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