Flags Area Council on Tourism
Four Flags Hotel
At the corner of 4th and Main Streets in Niles, this hotel was
built in 1925 at a cost of $350,000 and was considered the most
modern in Southwestern Michigan. It's reputed to have hosted Al
Capone, Eleanor Roosevelt, Knute Rockne, and Truman Capote. It was
the first business to adopt the name "Four Flags" and served as the
cultural center of Niles for most of the 20th Century. The hotel is
open daily and tours may be arranged with advance requests.
Located at 5th and Main Streets, the old Chapin
Mansion is the current Niles City Hall and is a very fine example of
Victorian Queen Anne Architecture. It is known for the stained glass
window panels and hand carved woodwork. Built in 1884, the mansion
features an ornate chandelier that is both electric and gas. The
building may be visited during normal business hours, and tours can
be arranged in advanced.
Fort St. Joseph Museum
Directly behind the Chapin Mansion is the Carriage
House which is home to the Ft. St. Joseph Museum. Exhibits and
artifacts include those from the Native American, French and English
period of Four Flags history, including many items from the old Fort
St. Joseph, pictographs by Chief Sitting Bull. The Museum is
open Wednesday thru Saturday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.
here for additional information.
Niles Rail Depot
Just off North 5th Street, the Niles Rail Depot is
open during normal business hours as a working depot. The sandstone
building was completed in 1881. Its Neo-Romanesque style made it a
real showplace, intended to impress visitors from the East with this
last passenger stop before the Columbian Exposition in Chicago.
Formal gardens were established in 1893 with a floating garden, a
fish pond, a gazebo and a greenhouse that supplied flowers for
dining cars as well as for thousands of passengers who traveled
through Niles, thus the affectionate title of "The Garden City." The
depot has appeared in movies such as the "The Continental Divide"
with John Belushi, "Midnight Run" with Robert DeNiro and "Only the
Lonely" with Maureen O'Hara and John Candy.
Fort St. Joseph Site
At the corner of Bond and Fort Street in Niles is
the huge boulder that marks the site of the old Fort St. Joseph. The
seven ton boulder was moved in 1912 from a nearby farm largely
financed by nickels from school children. A historical marker
recounts the history of the fort from 1691 to 1781. Fort St. Joseph
was important in the early fur trade, and settlement of the
Father Allouez Grave
Across Bond and just north of the Fort, is the
grave site of Father Claude Allouez who was the first "black robe"
to arrive in Niles to teach and convert the natives. He baptized
over 10,000 before his death in 1689. The grave site was part of the
St. Joseph Mission which was the first mission in lower Michigan,
Indiana, and lower Wisconsin.
Ferry Street School
Located at the corner of 7th and Ferry Streets in Niles, this
school was integrated in 1873. Built of red "schoolhouse" brick in
1868, the building is managed under the direction of the City of
Niles' Community Development Director. This facility currently
houses the Ferry Street School Resource Center. The historic
classroom features authentic early American maps and teaching tools
and serves as an extraordinary historical learning experience for
children and adults.
Named for the brook that runs through it,
Silverbrook Cemetery is older than the State of Michigan, having
been founded in 1836 with lots sold to the public in 1838. Famous
families buried in the Cemetery include the parents and sister of
Montgomery Ward of catalogue fame; the family of Niles native
journalist and sports writer, Ring Lardner; and the parents of John
and Horace Dodge. Civil War figures interred include Colonel Francis
Quinn of the Michigan 12th, and General Henry A. Morrow of the 24th