Designed by architects George D. Mason and Zachariah Rice, Palmer Park's log cabin isn't so much a rustic retreat as it is a Victorian house with log exterior. Trees from local woods were chopped down and then used as a facade of sorts for the home—the trees were installed on the exterior, like wooden siding, except with the bark left on. The home's original decor attempted to create a woodsy cabin-y feel much in the same way as The Cracker Barrel creates an "old country store"—by hanging random crap from the ceilings and putting tchotchkes on the shelves. Some of the Palmers' "flare" included an actual canoe, animal mounts, and a wooden ham.
Judge Palmer gifted the cabin and the property it stands on—more than 140 acres all together—to the city, and this area became Palmer Park. The judge lived in his log cabin for years after Mrs. Palmer grew tired of roughing it and moved back to her estate in Connecticut. After donating the cabin and surrounding acreage to the city in 1897, Judge Palmer remained in Detroit, dying after a car accident in 1913 at the age of 83.
The cabin was a popular tourist attraction until 1979, when the city closed the building to visitors and stored things like the Palmers' canoe and wooden ham at Historic Fort Wayne. On Sunday, visitors will have a rare opportunity to tour the home. Though the interior is largely empty, some fascinating artifacts remain, including Mrs. Palmer's treasured American Jewel stove, which was considered a marvel of modern technology in 1885. Sunday's festivities include the home tour, exhibits by African American and Native American quilters, and for the first 500 guests, ice cream provided free of charge by Michigan's own Guernsey Farms. Local preservation group People for Palmer Park would like to see the cabin open far more often than once a year, and hope to raise $1 million for renovations and restoration of the home.
Log Cabin Day takes place from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, June 28 at Palmer Park (910 Merrill Plaisance, Detroit). - Rebecca Golden
· Log Cabin Day [People for Palmer Park]
· Log Cabin at Palmer Park [Historic Detroit]
· Photos of the historic log cabin at Palmer Park [Metro Times]