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'Brother Van' House Museum is open for summer tours

Brother Van House Museum (MTN News)
Brother Van House Museum (MTN News)
Brother Van House Museum
Posted at 10:39 PM, Jul 08, 2024

GREAT FALLS — When you think of important people in Great Falls’ history you might think of Charlie Russell’s name first, but another name that is just as important is William Wesley Van Orsdel, also known as Brother Van.

“Visiting the Brother Van House Museum is part of learning Montana’s history,” explained Suzanne Waring, chair of the Brother Van Experience Committee.

The Brother Van Experience Committee has been keeping his home and legacy alive for the past 24 years.

Brother Van came to Montana on a steamboat in 1872. His main goal was to “to sing, to preach, and to encourage people to be good.”

He became well-known across the state and was known as the “best loved man in Montana.”

“He did a lot in the state, and he would drop in on people and if they were feeling discouraged [then] when he left they would be feel more positive,” said Waring.

He never really resided in one specific place since he was often traveling - that is, until he moved into the parsonage in Great Falls with the resident pastor and his family in 1910.

Brother Van House Museum (MTN News)

Brother Van lived in this house whenever he was in town, until he died in 1919.

“When we started thinking about telling the Brother Van story through this particular building, we started refurbishing it,” explained Waring.

Every room needed repainting, the floors needed to be refinished, and the appropriate furniture needed to be found. So, the committee did just that.

“It’s just like any other project,” Waring said, “It takes a whole community.”



Tours can be scheduled year round to visit the house and learn about Brother Van, but from July 9th through August 2nd, you can stop by Tuesday through Friday, 1:00 to 4:00 PM.

“There will be a docent, a trained docent, here every afternoon for people to tour the house and hear the Brother Van story,” said Waring

The United Methodist Church keeps this building in great condition, so although it was built in 1910, it is still a beautiful piece of history to come and be a part of in 2024.

The house museum is located at 113 Sixth Street North.