The importance of the Old Mission of the Sacred Heart can’t be minimized. It’s story is interwoven into Idaho history. The mission served as a learning center and home for the Coeur d’Alene Indians, a stopover for westward settlers, a haven for the sick, a supply post and post office.
Originally built on the St. Joe River in 1842, it was moved due to flooding. It’s present site overlooking the Coeur d’Alene River Valley was selected by Father Peter DeSmet between 1844-46. In 1850, Father Antonio Ravalli designed the new mission building for the new location. The Indians and Jesuits used large, hand-hewn logs cut near the site which were then latticed with saplings, woven with grass and caked with mud. This process, known as “wattle and daub,” created walls over one-foot thick and a building constructed entirely without nails. When finished three years later, the building was christened Mission of the Sacred Heart.
In 1962, the Sacred Heart Mission was placed on the National Register of Historic Places as a National Historic Landmark. In 1975, the mission and surrounding acreage were designated as a state historic site and park.
Visible from I-90 it is approximately 90 ft. long, 40 ft. high and 40 ft. wide. The structure was built by Jesuit priests and the Coeur d’Alene Indian Tribe.