NewsRegionOakland County


Working together to restore history in Walled Lake

Posted at 6:37 PM, Jun 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-23 18:37:42-04

(WXYZ) — Walled Lake is a small city, but its history is anything but.

7 Action News Reporter Andrea Isom went to a home where strangers helped people escape captivity, hundreds of years ago.

“It is important that we never forget that every life has meaning. And there is no such thing as a person who is beholden to someone else, other than themselves and their creator,” says Walled Lake City Councilman John Owsinek.

The Banks-Dolbeer-Bradley Foster Farm House is a part of Walled Lake's earliest history.

“My Dad was a Civil War Historian and I would hear about how the slaves would stop overnight there and there was an old shed and there would be food and clothing and money for them to travel on their way to the next location,” says Walled Lake Mayor, Linda Ackley.

At great risks to themselves and their family, they used their home as a last stop on the Underground Railroad.

“It is a historical home in Walled Lake and I don’t want to see it destroyed,” says Ackley.

In the mid-1990s the City Council decided to restore it. However, there was not much money to go toward the mission. Some time went by, and several years later they began to do the work themselves.

“We would spend our Saturdays and Sundays down here. We got a lot accomplished but there is still so much more to do," says Ackley.

“I’ve heard the history of the house and I said, 'this is something important',” says Jerry Millen, owner of The Greenhouse of Walled Lake.

Millen has donated $10,000 to restart the renovation once and for all.

The hope is that, after seeing this story, businesses and restoration companies will want to step up and help in this effort.

“This is part of our history of helping leave any area of enslavement to freedom, it’s that road that every individual needs to understand. I would love to be able to leave this planet, knowing that the farmhouse is finally open for business, with a certificate of occupancy,” says Owsinek.

And ready for people to see, receive it, and use it to acknowledge the past.

“This needs to be talked about and people need to know about this place and understand what it meant,” says Millen.

Then and even today.

If you would like to get involved with this restoration project, the Walled Lake City Council and Jerry Millen of The Greenhouse of Walled Lake would welcome the help!

Jerry Millen - Owner, The Greenhouse of Walled Lake

Mayor Linda Ackley -

Councilman John Owsinek -

Bennett Lublin -