Visitors to Detroit's Palmer Park will have a rare opportunity to take a tour of the city's only surviving log cabin this Sunday.
On Michigan's 26th Log Cabin Day, the group People for Palmer Park is sponsoring an event with the City of Detroit to spread awareness about the historic building and to raise funds to restore its roof. Ultimately, they want to turn the 127-year-old cabin into a community center, a role it served during the 1960s before it was closed due to a lack of city funding.
Sarah James, a People for Palmer Park board member, said she's thrilled the cabin will be open to the public again. It will be only the second time in thirty years that the public has had a chance to see the structure, the last being in 2001 during Detroit's tricentennial celebration.
"It's a mystery to some people," she said, adding that for others it's a source of pleasant memories. "We've been getting lots of emails and calls from older folks who remember the cabin."
The cabin was built in 1885 as a summer home for Sen. Thomas Palmer and his wife Lizzie Merrill Palmer. The Palmers later donated the property to the city of Detroit for use as a public park.
Sunday's events will include guided tours led by two local actors posing as the Palmers, music from a high school fiddling group from Saline, Mich., square dancing lessons sponsored by an African-American group called the Cross Trailers and an old-timey photo booth with period clothes available for those interested in taking home a souvenir. An ice cream social will be held in the afternoon with ice cream donated by Northville-based Guernsey Farms Dairy, whose founder John McGuire is a relative of carpenter Joseph I. Ray who helped build the cabin.
Log Cabin Day will also feature a humorous but informative talk from Amy Elliott Bragg, author of "Hidden History of Detroit" and the blog Night Train to Detroit, as well as a more serious presentation from Virginia Handy of the Log Cabin Society of Michigan.
“People need to be aware of the historical significance of the log cabin. It is important to keep this tradition alive," Handy said in a release. “America will not be America without its log cabins. She added that it's important to preserve the Palmer Park cabin's roof because when they are not cared for the structures can collapse.
The group People for Palmer Park, which hopes to make the Palmer Park Log Cabin Day an annual event, recently drew attention for planting an apple orchard at the park. The orchard upset several local residents who took the matter before city council. The two parties are currently attempting to resolve their differences and are scheduled to discuss the matter further at a meeting of City Council's Neighborhood and Community Services Committee scheduled for June 28.
Palmer Park's Log Cabin Day takes place on June 24 between 1 and 4 p.m. The ice cream social will take place at 2 p.m. Palmer Park is located off Woodward, near McNichols in Detroit. The event is free to the public, but donations are encouraged to help restore the log cabin.