At the corner of the Old Chicago Road (U.S. 12) and the La Plaisance Pike (M-50) in Michigan’s Irish Hills, a modest, one-and-a-half story farmhouse has sat for nearly two centuries. Built about 1832, the white clapboard Walker Tavern is perched atop of a small bluff overlooking U.S. 12. It originally was only a few footsteps off the "Old Sauk" Native American trail, which became U.S. 12 and was the main route for connecting Detroit and Chicago. The tavern quickly became a gathering place where travelers making the grueling five-day trip could rest, enjoy a meal or stay the night.
The Michigan History Center has operated the tavern as a historic site since 1965. Along with two additional historic structures, the tavern is part of an 80-acre state park. Walker Tavern and a reconstructed barn focus on the 1840s and 50s with artifacts and exhibits about people, travel and work. The 1929 colonial revival Hewitt House Visitors Center tells stories of early auto tourism, including the Irish Hills’ famous 20th century roadside tourist attractions like the Prehistoric Forest, Frontier City and Mystery Hill.
Walker Tavern's exhibits focus on life in Michigan in the first half of the 19th century, the frontier and stagecoach era. The tavern includes an 1840s parlor, bar room, dining room and kitchen.
Walker Tavern is the home field for the Walker Wheels, a vintage "base ball" team that plays by 1860s rules – no gloves and gentlemanly conduct on the field.