Rev. Hugh Duncan, a circuit-riding minister, led Butte's first Methodist Episcopal services in 1873. A dance hall, and later a school, served the early congregation. The first church built on this prominent corner in 1883 soon became overcrowded. Rev. W. W. Van Orsdel ("Brother Van"), along with church trustee copper king W. A. Clark, helped lay the cornerstone for this grand church in 1899. William L. Donovan and John G. Link were the architects. Link rose to prominence and later helped design the wings of Montana's state capitol. The church, completed in 1900, features a regal central tower with two arched entries. Magnificent stained glass richly embellishes the triple-arched windows on the south, north, and east. The sanctuary's semicircular arrangement and slanted floor, reminiscent of period opera houses, hosted some memorable community events. Famous speakers included social reformer Jacob Riis in 1906 and saloon-smasher Carrie Nation in 1910.
At the peak of Butte’s population in 1917, Methodists mustered eight congregations and 1,000 members, second only to the 15,000 members of nine Roman Catholic parishes. Mountain View Methodist was known as the “mine owners’ church,” while Trinity up the hill in Centerville was the “miners’ church.”
Most of the windows show complex geometrical and floral designs reminiscent of fancy stained glass in some of Butte’s private homes, suggesting that they may have been manufactured locally by the Butte Art Glass Works, which flourished at the time this church was built. However, with the exception of the two windows flanking the altar and pipe organ, these windows are not signed. All the glass was reconditioned in 1932.
The two windows at the front, stylistically different from most of the glass in the church, are products of J. & R. Lamb Studios of New York. These two windows portray the Good Shepherd and the Garden of Gethsemane.
The other windows hold panels of opalescent and solid-color glass. Much of this glass is textured on one side with a technique called rough rolling to give depth and to increase the scattering of light through both reflection and refraction. Most of these windows bear little, if any, paint – their effect is generated through the color and texture of the glass itself.
A central window in the south wall of the church, although beautiful, is a replacement necessary after vandalism and theft in the 1990s. The centerpiece of the large arched window on the east side in the loft was also stolen. The replacement window was built in Twin Bridges, Montana.
Along with its sister church up the hill, Mountain View Methodist Church held its last service in July 2016, leaving Butte with one remaining Methodist Church.
Today the Mountain View Methodist Church building is privately owned.