Designated as a Historic Landmark by the McHenry County Board February 3, 2015!
Located in Glacial Park Conservation Area, the Powers-Walker House is a rich educational and historical resource that is open for special events and programs throughout the year. By participating in these events, visitors gain insight to the early settlers’ connection to the land. Annual events include the Ice Cream Social of 1858, Archeological Awareness and the Harvest Gathering of 1858.
The Powers family first built their frame house, a Greek-Revival style home, in 1854. After the Powers family moved on, Samuel Walker, a prominent local citizen, purchased the farm. In the late 1990’s, the District and McHenry County Historic Preservation Commission determined that the house still contained a significant portion of architectural integrity, unaltered over 140 years of use. An active volunteer group is working to restore and refurbish the home’s interior and exterior historic appearance.
In 1845, Elon and Mary Powers brought their family of five children from out east to settle in this new land. With no roads into the property, they chose to site their house near the spring (located just to the east of the house) in order to be near a water source. Presumably they started out in a log cabin but as their family grew to eight children (Esther, George, Mary, Jane, Nancy, Roena, Isabelle and Francis), the Powers needed a bigger house. It was in 1854 that they built their first frame house, a proud Greek Revival-styled home.
The Powers’ nearest neighbor was Samuel Walker, a very wealthy and influential man who settled in the valley in 1836. Walker owned much of what is now Glacial Park, including the valley to the north and west of the Powers-Walker House. Archival research revealed that Walker eventually owned over two dozen farms in the area, including the Powers farm after the family moved in 1863.
The Greek Revival farmhouse was slated for demolition in 1996. However, Conservation District staff began an evaluation of the structure which prompted further investigation by the McHenry County Historic Preservation Commission. It was determined that the structure still contained a significant portion of its architectural integrity, unaltered by over 140 years of use. In addition to its age and condition, the home was also a significant example of rural Greek Revival architecture. The combination of these findings and the fact that it was once owned by a prominent local citizen, led to the formation of a District sponsored volunteer group that began restoring the Powers-Walker house to its original condition.
Physical restoration work began on the Powers-Walker House in 1998 after a year of demolition work which removed any modern features. Since that time, dedicated volunteers have completed the restoration of the house’s outer facade, while continuing to enhance the interior’s historic appearance. The restoration work is completed in phases, allowing particular care to be given to historic accuracy and craftsmanship.
A Rich Resource
Today, the Powers-Walker House hosts numerous unique public programs and events, while also serving as a rich resource for research. Organizations such as the Sauk Trail Archaeology Group have unearthed a wealth of artifacts during their excavations of the house’s surrounding grounds.