Niles donates $2,500 to Fort St. Joseph Archaeology Open House

Published 2:47 pm Wednesday, June 14, 2023

NILES — The Niles City Council moved to make sure community members can experience the city’s rich past.

The council voted unanimously to approve a $2,500 donation for the Fort St. Joseph Archaeology Open House during Monday’s meeting. The donation is made possible using funds from the council’s Community Promotion’s budget.

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 Fort St. Joseph Archaeological Project is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Since 1998, Western Michigan University has worked in partnership with the City of Niles and support from the greater community to discover the community’s history through its annual archaeology field school.

The culmination of this work is the Archaeology Open House event held this year on Aug. 5 and 6. The Open House offers visitors a chance to peek into the pits and see this year’s finds, experience a living history village with re-enactors demonstrating 18th century life and take a ride in a replica birch bark canoe on the St. Joseph River.

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 or contact the Niles History Center at (269) 845-4054.

A 25th anniversary dinner will be hosted Wednesday, July 12 at the Grand LV, which will feature dinner inspired by 18th century French cuisine, exhibits, and displays.