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       Smith's Chapel
         29858 Redfield Street
         Niles, MI  49120


The area known as "Smith's Chapel" includes both a one-story, gable-roofed, wood frame chapel covered with clapboard siding and a four-and-one-half-acre (4 1/2) cemetery. The chapel features a gabled entrance with a transom surmounted by an oculus in front. Round-arch windows with wooden hood molds light the sanctuary. The chapel stands on a rubble fieldstone foundation. A gable-roof, clapboard-sided privy is located at the rear of the church.The Chapel is now privately owned along with a small portion of area around the structure.

Cemetery Information

The larger cemetery area is owned and operated by a private non-profit organization (Smith's Chapel Cemetery, INC, Mich. Entity 727791). It contains stone (and one zinc) monuments. The grounds are partially contained within a modern chain-link fence.  For more information on the cemetery call: 269-663-2948

Statement of Significance

Smith's Chapel is the oldest known church building in Cass County, and probably also the oldest in southwest Michigan. Built in 1840 by settlers on Beardsley's Prairie in what became Milton Township, the chapel is the most visible product of an early colonization of the area by settlers from Delaware. The work of Methodist circuit preachers lead to the organization of a church on July 1, 1839. Cannon and Charlotte Smith, formerly of Delaware, sold the land and donated liberally to build the chapel which was named in their honor. In 1879, contractor W. S. Beswick was hired to remodel and modernize the church. The adjoining cemetery grounds were purchased in 1872 and many remains and monuments of early settlers, including those of the Smiths, moved from family plots to this ground.

Smith's Chapel

Property Type Church
Historic Use Religion/Religious Facility
Style Late Victorian
Architect/Builder William S. Beswick
Significant Person Cannon Smith
Period of Significance 1826 - 1865
Significant Date(s) 1840, 1879
State Register Listed 04/24/1979
Registry Type(s) Marker Erected 04/07/1981
National Register Listed 12/31/1987
Site ID# P22790