Old Mission State Park

Coordinates: 47°32′57″N 116°21′40″W / 47.54917°N 116.36111°W / 47.54917; -116.36111
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Coeur d'Alene's Old Mission
State Park
2015-10-23, Mission of the Sacred Heart (or Cataldo Mission).jpg
The Sacred Heart Church
Map showing the location of Coeur d'Alene's Old Mission State Park
Map showing the location of Coeur d'Alene's Old Mission State Park
Location in the United States
Map showing the location of Coeur d'Alene's Old Mission State Park
Map showing the location of Coeur d'Alene's Old Mission State Park
Location in Idaho
LocationCataldo, Kootenai County,
Idaho, U.S.
Nearest cityCoeur d'Alene
Coordinates47°32′57″N 116°21′40″W / 47.54917°N 116.36111°W / 47.54917; -116.36111[1]
Area18 acres (7.3 ha)[2]
Elevation2,139 ft (652 m)[1]
DesignationIdaho state park
AdministratorIdaho Department of Parks and Recreation
WebsiteOld Mission State Park
Cataldo Mission
CataldoMission interior HABS1958 edited.jpg
Apse, in 1957
Area22.9 acres (9.3 ha)
ArchitectAntonio Ravalli
Architectural styleGreek Revival, Colonial
NRHP reference No.66000312
Significant dates
Added to NRHPOctober 15, 1966[4]
Designated NHLJuly 4, 1961[5]

Coeur d'Alene's Old Mission State Park is heritage-oriented in the western United States in northern Idaho, preserving the Mission of the Sacred Heart, or Cataldo Mission, a national historic landmark. The park contains the church itself, the parish house, and the surrounding property. Built in 1850–1853, Mission of the Sacred Heart is the oldest standing building in Idaho.[1] It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1961,[2] and put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1966.[3]


Example of the newspaper wallpaper and tin can metalwork

In 1831, the Nez Perce and Flathead people had heard of the Bible and wanted more information on Christianity. They sent six men east to St. Louis with four arriving, and in 1842, Father Pierre-Jean De Smet responded to the request and came to the area. Fr. Nicholas Point and Br. Charles Huet came and helped to pick a mission location. The first chosen was along the St. Joe River and was subject to flooding. In 1846, they moved it to its current location.[1]

In 1850, the church was taken over by the Italian Jesuit missionary Antonio Ravalli, who began designing the new mission building. He had the building constructed by the Indians themselves, so they would feel part of the church. It was built using the wattle and daub method and finished some three years later without using nails.[1]

The mission was named after the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the spot was renamed the Coeur d'Alene's Old Mission State Park by the Coeur d'Alene Tribe. A misnomer locally is to refer to the whole mission as the "Cataldo" Mission. This term cropped up in the area due to the fame of Father Giuseppe Cataldo, a Sicilian priest born in the village of Terrasini, who spent most of his Jesuit life in the frontier community and founded Gonzaga University in Spokane.[2] The nearest town to the mission is Cataldo,[1] and with time, the mission became an important hospitality stop and supply station for traders, settlers, and miners traveling on the Mullan Road. It was also a working port for boats heading up the Coeur d'Alene River.[3]

In 1976, a major restoration of the church was chosen as Idaho State's Bicentennial Project to celebrate the nation's bicentennial.[1][4]

Mission area[edit]

The Amelia Wheaton with the Old Mission in the background ca. 1885

Though they had few materials to decorate the church, they used ingenious techniques to beautify it. The walls were decorated with fabric bought from the Hudson's Bay Company and hand-painted newspaper from Philadelphia that Fr. Ravalli had received in the mail. Tin cans were used to create the idea of chandeliers. Both wooden statues were carved by hand by Fr. Rivalli with nothing but a knife and were intended to look like marble.[1] The blue coloring of the interior wood is not paint but a stain created by pressing local huckleberries into the wood. [citation needed]

Parish house

After being burnt down, it was rebuilt in 1887. It is a two-story building, the upstairs used for sleeping quarters, and the downstairs for daily activities. It contains a smaller chapel, mostly used for daily Mass.[citation needed]

State park

The surrounding property has two cemeteries, a nature trail, and a visitors center. The site became Old Mission State Park in 1975 through a long-term lease with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Boise.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Old Mission State Park". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey, United States Department of the Interior.
  2. ^ "Idaho State Parks Fast Facts" (PDF). Lesson 6: State Park By Design. Idaho Parks and Recreation. Retrieved October 19, 2017.
  3. ^ a b "History: State Lands in Idaho". Idaho Museum of Natural History. Retrieved October 19, 2017.
  4. ^ "Cataldo Mission". NP Gallery Digital Asset Management System. National Park Service. Retrieved October 19, 2017.
  5. ^ "List of NHLs by State". National Park Service. Retrieved October 4, 2018.

Further reading[edit]

  • Cody, Edmund R., History of the Coeur d’Alene Mission of the Sacred Heart. Kellogg, Id.: Progressive Printing & Supplies, 1930.

External links[edit]