The Crown Jewel of Walkerville
locals have a soft spot in their hearts for the beautiful Edwardian
Manor named Willistead. Often referred to as the residence of Walkerville
and Canadian Club founder Hiram Walker, Willistead would certainly
have been a fitting home - but Walker had in fact been dead for
five years when construction of the Manor began in 1904.
was built by Hiram Walker's second son, Edward Chandler Walker and
named for his deceased older brother Willis.
in 1906, Willistead was designed by renowned American architect
Albert Kahn in the 16th Century Tudor-Jacobean style of an English
Manor house. No expense was spared in the construction of the manor;
the exterior of gray limestone was quarried in Amherstburg and hand
cut at the Willistead worksite by Scottish stonemasons specifically
imported for the project.
marble fireplaces, rich wood panelling and exquisitely detailed
hand carving throughout the many rooms, were fitting backdrops for
the Walker's elegant furnishings and extensive art collection. Even
an elevator was included in the design.
1914, architects Stahl Kinsey and Chapman designed the stone and
iron fence, which surrounds the property.
love for his father Hiram is evident by the positioning of the stone
portico which graced the front door of Hiram's Detroit home directly
in line with a small window in Chandler's dressing room on the second
floor. As he prepared for his day, Chandler would gaze out this
window and be reminded of his father.
and his wife Mary had married later in life and did not produce
any heirs. After Chandler's death in 1915, Mary lived in the huge
home alone except for her servants. After failing to convince her
sister and her husband, Col. and Mrs. Brewster, to move to Walkerville
from their home in the United States, (Edgewood, at 1857 Richmond
was built for them), Mary donated the 15 and 1/2 acre estate to
the Town of Walkerville in 1921 and returned to the U.S.
served as Walkerville Town Council chambers, then as the Walkerville
Public Library (changed to Windsor Public Library after amalgamation
in 1935) and the original Art Gallery of Windsor. Having fallen
into a state of disrepair by the mid-seventies, the manor was threatened
with demolition. Fortunately, the manor was spared with major restoration
work beginning in 1978. Owned by the people of Windsor and operated
and maintained by the Windsor Department of Parks and Recreation,
the manor reopened in 1981 in its present capacity as a meeting
and special event facility as well as a historical site available
are always welcome to help in the continued efforts to preserve
and furnish the manor. During the year 2000, donations helped pay
for landscaping around the refurbished Gardener's Shed, installation
of vintage lamp standards throughout the park saved from the Old
Town of Riverside, and the acquisition of additional period furnishings
for various Manor rooms. Donations are tax-deductible and make an
excellent holiday gift on behalf of that friend or relative," who
Chandler Walker's Magnificent Mansion in Walkerville