The Oldest Building in Idaho Is Still Standing After 170 Years

Idaho's Oldest Building
© The Everett Collection and boldg/ via

Written by Patrick MacFarland

Published: December 5, 2023

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The United States has a fascinating history that spans hundreds of years. As the United States expanded its territory westward, the settlers that went to those western territories found themselves with new landscapes that were unheard of. As they set up shop in these western towns, they constructed buildings. Some of the most important buildings were, of course, churches. When it came to Idaho, things were no different and settlers built communities in what is now the 43rd state.

Let’s take a look at the oldest building in Idaho that is still standing today after 170 years. We’ll go over the building’s origin, where it’s located, and other fun facts.

Origin of the Building

Old Mission State Park

The church was restored in 1976 as part of Idaho’s Bicentennial Project which celebrated the country’s bicentennial.

©Zack Frank/

The origin of the Mission of the Sacred Heart is quite fascinating. In a seldom happening, the Nez Perce and Flathead Native Americans wanted to know more about the Bible. Thus, several missionaries went to the area, and they decided to construct a mission. The mission started construction in 1850 and finished in 1853. The Italian Jesuit missionary Antonio Ravalli built the mission using Native American labor and, interestingly enough, never used nails and instead built it with the wattle and daub method. The mission is built in a Greek Revival and Colonial style of architecture. Once construction was finished, the mission was named after the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

The Mission of the Sacred Heart was designated as a National Historic Landmark on July 4, 1961, and was recorded on the National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1966.

Location of the Building

The Old Mission State Park is a heritage-oriented state park in North Idaho, preserving the Mission of the Sacred Heart, or Cataldo Mission historic Church and Parish House.

The parish house near the mission was burned down but luckily rebuilt in 1887.

©Kirk Fisher/

The Mission of the Sacred Heart, otherwise known as the Cataldo Mission, is located in Cataldo, ID. More specifically, the church is located in Kootenai County and its nearest city is Coeur d’Alene. The Mission of the Sacred Heart is within Coeur d’Alene’s Old Mission State Park, which contains the church, the parish house, and other things like two cemeteries, a visitors center, and even a nature trail. The Coeur d’Alene River passes near the mission.

Other Points of Interest

Autumn, Autumn Leaf Color, Bay of Water, Beach, Beauty

The nearest city to the Mission is Coeur d’Alene, which is by Coeur d’Alene Lake.

©Kirk Fisher/ via Getty Images

The nearest bigger city that is closest to the mission is Coeur d’Alene, ID. Coeur d’Alene has a population of 54,000 people and it is considered a part of the metropolitan area of Spokane, WA. If you have the opportunity to go to Coeur d’Alene, make sure you do the things that it’s famous for. You can go golfing, boating, or hiking the endless nature trails that surround the green city. The recreational activities in Coeur d’Alene are endless and involve mainly Lakeside types of things. 


And there you have it, the oldest building in Idaho that is still standing today after 170 years is the Mission of the Sacred Heart. It is also called the Cataldo Mission because it is located in Cataldo, ID. Missions have been a part of the West for centuries. Spanish missionaries came to what is now California and its surrounding states and constructed missions to convert Native American tribes to catholicism. Today, many of those missions serve as churches where people attend services.

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About the Author

Patrick Macfarland is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering travel, geography, and history. Patrick has been writing for more than 10 years. In the past, he has been a teacher and a political candidate. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from SDSU and a Master's Degree in European Union Studies from CIFE. From San Diego, California, Patrick loves to travel and try new recipes to cook.

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