Who designed city hall glass?Published 6:34pm Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Niles’ purchase of Bank of America for city hall renews officials’ efforts to identify grant funds which might be tapped to restore Chapin Mansion to its original grandeur.
One obstacle has been not having a record of who created its stained-glass windows.
“Nobody seems to have a record of who that individual is,” Third Ward Councilman William Weimer said Wednesday.
Weimer doesn’t know if it is true, but he was surprised to hear the same artist did First Presbyterian Church, 13 South Fourth St.
It seems a logical assumption. According to “Our Heritage,” a booklet Kay DeGroot compiled in 1989, the church built in 1915 with $200,000 from the estate of Charles A. Chapin was named Chapin Memorial Church.
Charles’ father, Henry Austin Chapin, planned to build a church, but was thwarted by the panic of 1893, then died in 1896.
A Queen Anne-style house completed in 1884, the mansion was the Chapin family home until 1902. Niles acquired the property in 1932.
Church records quote artist Charles J. Connick of Boston as saying the great window over the chancel, the gift of Mrs. Chapin, “is one of the best he ever did. It is very low in tone and will not tire the eyes of the congregation.”
The church was founded March 30, 1834, in the schoolhouse on the northeast corner of Sycamore and Third streets as one of the first Christian churches organized in Niles apart from mission churches among Native Americans.
Michigan became a state three years later. Andrew Jackson was president of the United States. Abraham Lincoln was serving his first term in the Illinois legislature. Visitors made their way to Niles from Kalamazoo by following an Indian trail through unbroken wilderness, guided by blazed trees. Twenty families populated the 6-year-old village.
Eighth pastor Dr. William Phelps guided the church from 1915-1919. During those four years during World War I, 188 members joined to bring the congregation to 448 total. Chapin Memorial hosted the Michigan Synod Oct. 9-12, 1917. The cornerstone was laid June 4, 1915. The dedication occurred Jan. 16, 1916. It cost $113,600.