Chapin Mansion to become house museum with Brandywine’s helpPublished 4:58pm Thursday, August 16, 2012
The Brandywine History Club plans on playing a large role in transforming the Chapin Mansion into a house museum once city hall moves out in the coming months.
History club director Dave Roeder said the club, which has more than 100 members, will hold fundraisers and provide physical labor for restoration efforts.
“When I heard that it would be turned into a museum, I thought it would be a great civic or local project for the club to get involved in,” Roeder said. “It gives students a sense of pride and ownership in their own history and their own community.”
City hall, located in Chapin Mansion, is in the process of relocating to the former Bank of America building at 333 N. Second St., which was purchased by the city in May.
Carol Bainbridge, director of Fort St. Joseph Museum, said the plan is to restore the Chapin Mansion into a house museum with original Chapin furniture and furnishings.
“It is a three-pronged approach,” Bainbridge said. “We will interpret it as the history of the Chapin family and also as the wonderful structure that it is. It will also be interpreted as a social history of this area.”
The Chapin Mansion would be under the wing of the Fort St. Joseph Museum, located next door. The Fort St. Joseph Museum will remain as it is, Bainbridge said.
The Chapin Mansion, a Queen Anne-style house completed in 1884, was the Henry Austin Chapin (1813-1898) family home until 1902.
Niles bought the property in 1932 for $300 on the condition it would be used for the public, Bainbridge said. Almost everything in the home, such as furniture, was sold at auction.
Bainbridge said efforts are being made to return as much of the original Chapin furniture to the mansion as possible.
She estimates the restoration project will take years to complete.
The biggest hurdle, she said, is raising money for restoration and reacquiring Chapin furniture.
The Brandywine History Club is the first organization to join the effort.
“I appreciate it very much, and I hope they will be a springboard for other groups, or an example, where other groups will want to pick up as well,” she said. “We can use any number of groups that want to help financially.”