NEW HUDSON INN- THE EARLY DAYS
In 1830, Russell Alvord of Monroe County, New York, sought out President Andrew Jackson for a grant of land in the Northwest Territory. He obtained a deed with President Jackson’s signature for a 40-acre parcel of land, with which he opened an inn in 1831 which he called “Old Tavern”. Michigan had not achieved statehood when the “Old Tavern” opened its doors. The tavern served as a bar and changing point for travelers and businessmen on the stage coach line called the New Hudson Station.
Solidly built out of 18” sewn timbers and hardwood held together with wooden pegs, the rudimentary but functional frontier building was a welcome sight to the weary traveler en route to Detroit and Lansing. Like at many taverns along stagecoach routes, for a fee tourists and patrons could have a bed to sleep in and a meal. At one point the Old Tavern became known as the New Hudson Hotel. The floor in the main hall was a spring dance floor. As the dancing patrons moved and swayed to the music filling the room, so did the floor move with their steps.
The township of New Hudson was formally established several years after the opening of the New Hudson Hotel. The inn saw no apparent want of business as the community grew and the population of pioneers moving west increased. The proprietors of the tavern were considered sympathetic to the slavery abolition cause leading up to and during the Civil War era. Above the main room of the tavern was built a secret room that possibly hid runaway slaves on the Underground Railroad. As escaped slaves would come through quickly and quietly, an occasional item would get left behind in the upper room hideaway.
The farming community grew and flourished. As the era of the stagecoach drew to a close, and the railroad era boomed, the inn retained a position of prominence in the community, whether for better or worse. The Michigan Air Line Railroad chose New Hudson as a railroad stop over other local communities, so the bustle of customers at the New Hudson Hotel ever increased. Some believe that over the course of the years the inn might have even functioned as a brothel, which more than likely increased the patronage.
The New Hudson Hotel changed in appearance over the years as ownership changed hands. As fashion and style dictated, and as new invention and technology became available, the tavern slowly adapted. Eventually, the name of the bar was changed to the New Hudson Inn, as it remains today. The original purpose remained the same - to serve the community. The former tavern now acts as a restaurant and bar, maintaining some of what it was originally built to do. In 2016, the New Hudson Inn celebrated its 185th anniversary of operating business after an extensive renovation to take the building back as closely as possible to the original appearance. The upper room thought to have housed escaped slaves now can be viewed in museum fashion through plexiglass. Items found inside the room during the renovation are on display for the public to see, such as clothing items, a corset box, newspapers, and coins.
The New Hudson Inn is the oldest operating bar in Michigan. The Oakland County Historical Commission is working diligently to verify all the facts about the New Hudson Inn so that a historic marker can be placed at its front.