History Center - Niles, Michigan

Chapin Mansion  Niles, Michigan - www.nileshistorycenter.org


museumOn a Michigan getaway to Niles, Michigan one can't help but notice the abundance of historic architecture, from the main street buildings to the famous Train Depot.  In the center of town is the beautiful Chapin Mansion, now part of the History Center.

Built from 1882-1884 the Chapin Mansion was the home of Henry A. Chapin.  It is the only example of the Aesthetic Period in this region.  The architecture is Queen Anne but the details in the interior, interior is ornamented with leaded glass windows and transoms, handcarved woodwork, and stenciled ceilings have all the marks of the Aesthetic Periond.  The 'Aesthetic Movement' emphasized 'art for art's sake' with opulent colors, decorative patterning, varied textures and rich materials deeply influenced by Japan, indeed all oriental/middle eastern themes, as well as exotic patterning from Moorish styles.  The 13 room mansion now houses the inner workings of the city’s local government while remaining a beautiful and part of its landscape.

H. A. Chapin was an energetic local business man but most of the family money came from the discovery of iron ore in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The Chapin Mine near Iron Mountain began operations in 1879. "Mr. H.A." as he was known received up to $300,000 yearly in royalties from the mine. Owing to the Great Depression, the Chapin Mine closed in 1934, after fifty-five years of continuous production.