North of Detroit in Rochester, Michigan, one of our National Historical Landmarks is the historic home of one of the automotive aristocracy's most remarkable women, Matilda Dodge Wilson, her second husband Alfred Wilson, a lumber broker and their four children, Frances and Danny Dodge, and Richard and Barbara Wilson. It exists as an indirect product of the achievements and good fortune of Matilda’s first husband, the automotive pioneer John F. Dodge. Co-founder of Dodge Brothers Motor Car Company, John Dodge quickly prospered in the early automotive industry. Upon his tragic death in 1920, Matilda became one of the world's wealthiest women. This fortune not only built one of America's finest residences and country estates, it also supported numerous Detroit charities and organizations, and made possible the founding of Oakland University.
Matilda Dodge Wilson and her family.
Now referred to as Meadow Brook Hall, the mansion was built during the country place era, a time when wealthy American industrialists pursued rural life in settings of great beauty. It is one of the finest examples of Tudor-revival architecture in America and is especially renowned for it superb craftsmanship, architectural detailing and grand scale of 88,000 square feet. Inspired by the country manor homes in England, it was designed and built by the Detroit architectural firm of Smith, Hinchman and Grylls between 1926 and1929, at a cost of nearly $4 million.
Meadow Brook Hall was built on the 320-acre farm estate John and Matilda Dodge had purchased years earlier as weekend country retreat. The Wilson's expanded the estate to include 1,500 acres and several residences. For the Dodge and Wilson families, the farm estate provided a splendid setting for recreational activities and pastimes such as equestrian sports, motoring, and gardening and developed into one of the finest agricultural complexes, producing the finest lines of pedigree livestock.
In 1957, the Wilsons donated their residence, its collections, the estate's 1,500 acres and $2 million to found what would become Oakland University. Meadow Brook Hall was opened to the public in 1971, four years after Matilda's death.
Currently, The Hall welcomes more than 70,000 visitors each year for tours, educational programs and a variety of special events. This historic house is surrounded by an extraordinary Green Space - if fact, 12 gardens meticulously maintained by hundreds of very dedicated members and volunteers comprising the Meadow Brook Garden Club. A National Historic Landmark, Meadow Brook Hall strives to preserve and interpret its architecture, landscape, and fine and decorative art so that visitors may be entertained, educated and inspired by history.
The many beautiful gardens at Meadow Brook are maintained by hundreds of very dedicated volunteers and members belonging to the Meadow Brook Garden Club. Visit these links for more information: