#Lookback: Hudson’s St. Matthew’s Chapel

    A County 10 series in partnership with the Fremont County Museum System
    where we take a #Lookback at the stories and history of our community and
    presented by Mick Pryor, Financial Advisor with Edward Jones.

    With the merger of the Pioneer Museum and the Museum of the American West the historic buildings of the Pioneer Village are now all part of the Fremont County Pioneer Village. Most of them are actual structures from around the Lander Valley that were moved to the museum to preserve them. This is part one of a series of histories about the various buildings.

    The first Christian church service in Hudson was conducted by Reverend O.E. Reed of the Congregational Society In 1907 in a tent soon after the town of Hudson was founded.  A Sunday school was organized and the community fund raised to construct a permanent building.  The church was completed in 1909 under the supervision of the Episcopal church and Reverend John Roberts, the Episcopal missionary on the Wind River Reservation. The building cost between $700 and $900 to build.  Originally, the Church was named St. Matthew’s Church but later became known as Hudson Community Church.  The building served the needs of many denominations. “The Bishop’s committee allowed the use of St Matthew’s church for any divine service by any ordained minister of any recognized Christian Church.”

    Reverend Roberts recalled, “I have been most grateful remembrances of the generosity and goodness of the people of Hudson.  It was one of the most responsive missions which I have ever been connected.”  Roberts also went on to organize congregations in Lander, Atlantic City, Dubois, Crowheart, Riverton, Thermopolis, Milford, and Shoshoni in addition to his duties on the reservation and at his mission school.

    There were intervals when the church was used by various denominations and times when it was not used at all and sat vacant.  In the early days, a two story house on the corner of First Street and Ohio in Hudson served as a parsonage for the minister.

    Soon after the reservation was established in 1868, the Episcopal Church was given the responsibility for the spiritual education of the Shoshones, but it was not until 1883 that a full time minister, John Roberts was assigned to the Shoshone mission.  When the Arapaho came to the reservation Reverend Roberts included them in his mission.  He had the book of Saint Luke translated into Arapaho.

    The tiny Church was moved to the Pioneer Museum site in Lander in July of 2005 then operated as the Museum of the American West.  The two museums have now merged.  The church represents religious life in Lander Valley.  It is furnished with 12 pews donated by local benefactors, deacons’ benches, a baptismal font, altar, pulpits, a communion case, an organ and six stained glass hang in the windows from the original Episcopal church in Lander. A cross made of peeled logs adorns the front of the church above the altar. The stained glass hanging now in St. Matthew’s were originally a gift to the first Lander Episcopal church from the Episcopal bishop in Denver.

    The church’s original bell hangs in a bell tower outside the chapel.  

    Today the chapel is rented out for small weddings, memorials, reaffirmation of vows, baptism, and religious gatherings.  People interested in renting the chapel can contact the Pioneer Museum in Lander.

    December 2022-October 2023 at the Pioneer Museum, “Wind River Memories: Artists of the Lander Valley and Beyond” art exhibition

    March 10, 7:30 pm at the Dubois Museum, “Kids Corner: Interactive Stargazing” Bailey Tire/Pit Stop Children’s Exploration Series

    March 29, 6pm at the Riverton Museum, “Talking Photography with Wes Uncepher” Wyoming Community Bank Discovery Speakers Series

    April 13, 7pm at the Dubois Museum, “What’s This Stuff Called Air” Wyoming Community Bank Discovery Speakers Series

    April 21, 10-11 am at the Dubois Museum, “Kids Corner: Scat, Tracks and Skulls” Bailey Tire/Pit Stop Children’s Exploration Series

    April 22, 11am at the Riverton Museum, “A 70’s Time Capsule” Bailey Tire/Pit Stop Children’s Exploration Series

    April 22, 9-3 pm at the Pioneer Museum, “Garden-Expo: Planting Historic Vegetables for Kids” Bailey Tire/Pit Stop Children’s Exploration Series

    April 29, 1-3pm at the Pioneer Museum, “Sheep Shearing Day” Bailey Tire/Pit Stop Children’s Exploration Series

    May 12, 10am at the Dubois Museum, “Kids Corner: Aquatic Insects” Bailey Tire/Pit Stop Children’s Exploration Series

    May 13, 9-1 pm at the Pioneer Museum, “Lander Area Petroglyph Trek” Wind River Visitors Council Adventure Trek Series

    May 17, 7 pm at the Riverton Museum, “Gold Fever in the Atomic Age: Wyoming’s Uranium Boom” by Zach Larsen, Wyoming Community Bank Discovery Speakers Series

    Call the Dubois Museum 1-307-455-2284, the Pioneer Museum 1-307-332-3339 or the Riverton Museum 1-307-856-2665 for detail regarding their programs.

    The Wind River Cultural Centers Foundation has been created to specifically benefit The Dubois Museum, the Pioneer Museum in Lander and the Riverton Museum.  The WRCCF will help deliver the long term financial support our museums need to flourish.  In the current economic environment, the museums are more reliant than ever on donations from the private sector to continue to provide the quality programs, collections management, exhibits and services that have become their hallmark over the last four years.  Please make your tax deductible contribution to be used specifically for the benefit of the museum of your choosing by sending a check to Wind River Cultural Centers Foundation at PO Box 1863 Lander, WY 82520 or taking it directly to the museum you choose to support.  

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