Join the Niles History Center for these upcoming programs and events!
First Friday Walking Tours
The Niles History Center is excited to offer walking tours this summer! Meet a museum representative at the Fort St. Joseph Museum (508 E. Main Street) and take a stroll down Main Street to learn about our community's historic downtown. Highlights include the Four Flags Hotel, Ready Theater, Paris Soda Shop and Main Street bridge.
Historic photos are shown throughout the tour.
Tours are free but donations are gratefully accepted to help fund this program.
2018 Walking Tour Schedule:
Friday, July 6, 10:00am
Friday, August 3, 10:00am
Friday, September 7, 10:00am
All tours are weather permitting. Please call 269-845-4054 for more information.
Portraits and Profiles: African Americans in Niles
In 2016, the Niles History Center received funding though the Michigan Humanities Council’s Heritage Grant program to explore our community’s African American history. As part of the grant, a banner exhibit was produced as well as a walking tour, curriculum guide and online exhibit.
Niles served as a hub for African Americans starting in the mid-19th century. Free blacks and those who sought freedom through the Underground Railroad found refuge in Niles. They established neighborhoods, started businesses, built houses, and raised families. Many of their descendants still call Niles home.
In Niles, the Ferry Street Community included the Ferry Street School (originally the “Colored” School), Mount Calvary Baptist Church (formerly Second Baptist) and the John W. Moore Lodge of Freemasons. The “Dickereel” neighborhood on the northeast edge of Niles was filled with immigrants and African Americans. Black-owned businesses operated throughout downtown. The Niles is featured prominently in the 1915 Michigan Manual of Freedmen’s Progress, published 50 years after abolishment of slavery. Armed with historical knowledge, descendants of these early African American families gained opportunities during the Civil Rights era. It is time to pass along their knowledge to the next generation.
Niles High School students interviewed senior residents to gather information. Stories were recorded and images were collected to create the banners which were inspired by the remarkable lives of these individuals.