R. Dexter Walker House

Photo by Sara Keller, April 2010
  • Location: 628 S. Park, Kalamazoo
  • Survey ID: R-43
  • Designation: R. Dexter Walker House
  • Date: 1857
  • Style: Greek Revival

The following material is from the 1973 Initial Inventory of Historic Sites and Buildings in Kalamazoo and was made available for use here by the Historic Preservation Coordinator of the City of Kalamazoo. See Introduction to an Initial Inventory for details about how the survey was conducted.

This fine example of the "Greek Revival" temple retains a great deal of its original appearance. Its present condition is a testimony to the skill of its builder, a young Canadian brick maker, Richard Dexter Walker. Walker bought his lot in the old Kalamazoo Literary Institute addition and began to make bricks from the clay he dug from his cellar. The bricks went into the walls of his home, and by the Spring of 1858, the local tax assessor added "Brick house" to the description of the lot--a designation rarely used in the records of the 1850's. The 1860 Census-taker recorded Walker as 27 years old, and gave him an estate of $5,000. His wife, Phoebe, and four young children lived with him.

The house itself is somewhat narrower than many of the Greek "temples" built around the country in the middle of the 19th century. Still, its roof pitch and the symmetrical rows of windows hint at the lines and the columns of the temple prototype.

Maps:

1853 - nothing

1861 - house

Kalamazoo Tax Records:

1851-55 nothing      
1856   lot #30 of Kalamazoo Literary Institute Add. not listed as non-resident
1857 R. Dexter Walker lot #30 150.00 "pd 8/57"
1858 Dexter Walker lot #30 Brick house 900.00  

U. S. Population Census Rolls:

1860 Dexter Walker, 27, brick maker, 4,000 real, 1,000 personal, b. Canada, Phoebe Walker, 26, b. NY; 4 children, 6, 4, 2, and 3 months.

Kalamazoo Gazette December 2, 1962 "Kalamazoo Landmarks"

Kalamazoo City Directory:

This report was converted from a typewritten document to a digital text document in September 2004. Other than punctuation and spelling corrections, and the addition of BOLD type site address and names, no changes were made. Minor formatting changes were made for use on this website, but the text was not altered. Original survey dated 1973.

Additional Sources

Books

Kalamazoo: Nineteenth-Century Homes in a Midwestern Village
  • Schmitt, Peter J.
  • Kalamazoo Historical Commission, 1976
  • H 720.9774 S355, pages 60-61
"Frederick L. Walker" : Meader Collection
  • H 920 M481 V.34

Articles

"Pioneer brick maker dies in Kalamazoo"

  • Kalamazoo Gazette, 13 September 1910, page 3 (copy in History Room Name File)

"Old houses are like old friends"

  • Kalamazoo Gazette, 2 December 1962, page 13, column 1 (copy in Historic Sites Scrapbook, volume 11, pages 11-12)

"Home testifies to builder's skill"

  • Kalamazoo Gazette, 5 June 1974, page B2, column 1

"Reviving history"

  • Kalamazoo Gazette, 21 February 2010, page D1, column 1

Files

History Room Subject File: Houses - Kalamazoo - Park, S., 628

History Room Name File: Walker, Richard D.