Niles History Center to host spring open house

Published 9:26 am Friday, April 1, 2016

With just a couple weeks remaining before the Chapin Mansion opens for the season, organizers are gearing up for the Niles History Center’s Spring Open House.

“The open house will be very family friendly so bring your kids out,” said Christina Arseneau, director of the history center. “There will be activities for everyone to do.”

The open house is scheduled to take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 16.

Admission to the event is free.

Actors portraying former mansion owners Henry and Ruby Chapin will be present to greet guests to the home, which was built in 1882 and donated to the City of Niles in 1933.

The mansion, which is in the process of being restored, features stained glass windows, beveled mirrors, brass chandeliers, hand-carved woodwork and nine fireplaces.

Although fully guided tours won’t be available during the open house, docents will be stationed throughout the first two floors to provide more insight into the building’s unique history.

For children, there will be crafts and a scavenger hunt.

Live music is planned as well.

The open house serves as the kick off to the spring season when the mansion opens to the public.

Following the open house, the Chapin Mansion will be open for tours at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

The Fort St. Joseph Museum, which is located next to the mansion, is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays.

Chapin Mansion tours cost $5 per person with proceeds going toward the restoration of the mansion.

Arseneau said a few restoration projects are scheduled to take place at the mansion this year, including work on the front porch to make it accessible and more aesthetically pleasing.

“We are looking at different ways of how we can make it accessible without detracting from the historic character of the house,” she said. “We don’t want to add anything that looks too modern.”

There is also an effort to restore a chandelier for the mansion library this year.

At the museum, Areseneau said they are updating all the exhibits that have to do with Fort St. Joseph.

For more information, visit the history center website at or find it on Facebook. Call the center at (269) 845-4054.