A Michigan city hall moves from its historic address

From Main Street to 2nd Street, the Niles City Hall is making a move from its historic address at the Chapin Mansion to an old bank building.

"We're moving City Hall and our utilities building to this new facility to try to consolidate services and save taxpayer's money," said Ric Hoff, the City Administrator.

Hoff said it was May when the city really became interested in the building.

"I was driving down the street and saw a for sale sign. I took it to the city council, they had talked about this building for a period of years, a couple different times when it came available. But it just wasn't feasible at that time, and we were able to buy this for a very reasonable amount of money," said Hoff.

And the move only took 3 days. Dedicated city hall employees and a team of movers started on Wednesday. They hope to have the finishing touches complete by Friday, in order to open back up for business on Monday morning.

"The employees have been ecstatic, they are very excited about this move. And every taxpayer that has stopped in, I've never had a negative comment. They all thought it was a perfect thing for the city to be doing, and a good move," said Hoff.

As for the Historic Mansion, the museum next door plans to acquire the property and restore it to a mansion-home available to the public.

"The plans are to convert it to a house museum. We will interpret it as a house...the time period that the Chapin's were living there. And we'll have tours through the house," said Fort St. Joseph Museum director, Carol Bainbridge.

Bainbridge says it will take some time to clean up the mansion after the day to day wear and tear from the office function.

"Realistically, I'm hoping next May. Before then, we do have to clean, we have to paint. There's a great deal of work to be done. It's been a City Hall with fluorescent lights and computers. We need to switch things over to the way they were in the 1880's," said Bainbridge.

By the time the mansion re-opens, Bainbridge hopes it will be a tourist destination thanks to the original design.

"It's not only the Chapin story, that's important to people of this area, But the architecture of this house is fabulous. It's an English Aesthetic period that makes the stain glass and the woodwork and everything unique. I think architectually is where people will really want to come see it, from all over. Not just niles, but all over."


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