Fort St. Joseph Open House returns Aug. 7-8

Published 1:36 pm Tuesday, July 27, 2021

NILES – The Fort St. Joseph Archaeology Open House returns this year, as the Western Michigan University Archaeological Field School has been at work for the past few weeks getting ready for the event.

The annual Archaeology Open House is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Aug. 7 and 8 near Fort and Bond streets where the Fort once stood. A celebration event will be hosted at the start of the event at 10 a.m. Aug. 7.

Fort St. Joseph was founded in 1691 and was abandoned in 1781. It was a trading post, mission and garrison located on the St. Joseph River in Niles. The Fort was controlled by three European countries: France, Britain and Spain, and was also occupied by several Native American groups, including the Potawatomi.

The project is a collaboration between Western Michigan University and the city of Niles, with support from the greater community.

Over the last 20 years, WMU archaeology staff and students have worked to reveal the history of Niles’ Fort St. Joseph.

With a theme of People of the Post, this year’s event will showcase the information gleaned about the lives at the post and the relevance to the present.

During the open house, the archeologists will share their findings as visitors are invited to tour the field and talk with the archaeology crew. All ages will enjoy meeting reenactors who portray “people of the post” and offer fun activities and demonstrations. Berrien County Parks Department will be on hand to speak about wildlife at the Fort. Sarrett Nature Center will offer rides on a 30-foot replica Voyageur canoe along the St. Joseph River. The event will also feature an Ask an Archaeologist table, where residents can learn more about items they have found in their own backyards.

Attendance and all of the Open House activities are free, though donations will be accepted to support the Fort St. Joseph Archaeological Project.

Merchandise and food will be available for sale. Several community groups have helped to sponsor the event including Support the Fort Inc. and the City of Niles.

For further information, visit wmich.edu/fortstjoseph or contact the Niles History Center at (269) 845-4054.