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Historic mansion in Niles to become city museum

NILES, Mich. --- The historic Chapin Mansion is on it's way to becoming a city museum.

Niles History Center Director Christina Arseneau said a proposal was brought to the city council on October 9 to turn the 133-year-old mansion into an interactive museum.

“We want to really activate this building,” Arseneau said. 

In the proposal, the Center is asking to give the mansion a new look, add fun and interactive exhibits in each of the 13 rooms in the three-story house, and extend the Fort St. Joseph Museum to the mansion by moving artifacts between the two. Arseneau said they will preserve the woodwork and precious fixtures inside of the home. 

"People will get to see a lot more of Niles history," she said. "They'll be able to be more interactive for all ages, the children will especially be able to enjoy it."

One of the rooms that used to belong to the city administrator back in 2012 will be turned into a mini mayor's office. Arseneau said the children can pretend they are a mayor for a couple of minutes and learn about civics at the same time.

The changes proposed will not be cheap, but Arseneau said it'll all pay off in the end. She said the Center has already applied for a grant to fix the entrance of the mansion that, at the moment, is a danger to visitors.

"I think it will literally triple the space we have in telling the story of Niles," she said. “I think there’s a lot of curiosity about this building and so we’re hoping to draw some new audiences with that as well.”


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