Walker Tavern Historic Site
Located at the junction of U.S. 12 (historic Old Chicago Road) and M-50 in Lenawee County, Michigan, the Walker Tavern Historic Site was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971. The adjacent building--Brick Walker Tavern--is privately owned and is not part of the Cambridge State Historical Park located nearby, although it is part of the 80-acre state park; it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2007.
Backstory and Context
The Walker Tavern was formerly known as Snell's Tavern, in 1836 and was originally built as a farmhouse. Once a stage coach stop, it was built at the crossroads of Cambridge Junction on old Michigan Avenue, the first road between Chicago and Detroit.
Two years later Sylvester Walker and his wife Lucy bought land in Cambridge Township with an interest in the tavern. They had moved from New York where they had previously owned taverns. Walker then buys Snell's Tavern and changes the name in 1843. By 1854 Sylvester Walker had built a three-story brick building (Brick Walker Tavern) across the road from the tavern in response to the increase in traffic on the road. The old tavern then became his private residence. Walker had owned the land for less than 30 years when he passed away in 1865. Soon after his death the property was purchased by Francis Dewey and his family. The land stayed in the Dewey family for three generations.
In 1922, Rev. Frederick Hewitt, a friend of Henry Ford, bought both taverns, restored them and then opened them as tourist attractions and an antique shop. He also built a home on the west end of the property. The site was marked as historic with a plaque in 1922 by the Daughters of the American Revolution.
Today the Walker Tavern is part of the 80-acre Cambridge Junction State Park and is operated by the Michigan Historical Center, a part of the Department of Natural Resources. In 1965, the structure was sold to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. The tavern was then restored and converted into a museum at the state park.
History of Lenawee County, Michigan - Chapter 8, Representatives and County Officials. Lenawee History. Accessed July 27, 2018. http://www.lenaweehistory.com/lenawee-ch8.html. Published by The Western Historical Society in 1909.
Michigan History Center: Cambridge Junction Historic State Park. State of Michigan. Accessed July 27, 2018. https://www.michigan.gov/mhc/0,4726,7-282-61080_61873---,00.html.
Perkins, Laurie. Window restoration will lead to new exhibits at Walker Tavern Historic Site. State of Michigan. January 28, 2018. Accessed July 27, 2018. https://www.michigan.gov/som/0,4669,7-192-26847-458705--,00.html.
Walker Tavern. US 12 Heritage Trail. Accessed July 27, 2018. http://www.us12heritagetrail.org/asset.asp?ait=av&aid=125.
Walker Tavern Historic Site & Cambridge Junction Historic State Park. Pure Michigan. Accessed July 27, 2018. https://www.michigan.org/blog/guest-blogger/walker-tavern-historic-site-cambridge-junction-historic-....
Walker Tavern upgrades help revitalize area visitation. Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources. July 28, 2016. Accessed July 27, 2018. https://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,4570,7-350-79137_79770_79873_80003-390026--,00.html.