Meadow Brook Hall – Rochester, Michigan - Atlas Obscura

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Meadow Brook Hall

Rochester, Michigan

This museum was once the home of industry titan Matilda Dodge Wilson. 

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This grand mansion was the home of Matilda Dodge Wilson, widow of carmaker John Dodge, and her second husband Alfred G. Wilson. It was built in 1926-1929 and designed by the firm Smith, Hinchman, and Grylls which also designed Detroit’s Guardian Building. Buhl Building, Ford Piquette Plant, and the Dodge Main Factory, among many others.

The 110-room Tudor Revival mansion is the fourth-largest historic house museum in the United States and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Each of its 36 chimneys has a distinct design and stone carvings on the exterior featuring the Dodge and Wilson family crests and native woodland animals. The study has a carved oak frieze with scenes from the life of Alfred Wilson. There’s also a secret staircase, gold-plated bathroom fixtures, an Aeolian organ, Tiffany glass, and paintings by Anthony van Dyck, Thomas Gainsborough, and John Constable. The grounds include a golf course, stables, and Knole Cottage, a fully functioning playhouse with a kitchen, dining room, living room, bathroom, nursery, and bedroom.

Born to German immigrants, Matilda Rausch Dodge Wilson had a notable life in industry, agriculture, politics, and education, and was one of the wealthiest women in the world during her lifetime. She was John Dodge’s secretary before marrying him and acted as a manager in the Dodge Brothers’ company. After being widowed with three children and three stepchildren, she remarried lumber baron Alfred Wilson and adopted two more children. She oversaw livestock breeding of shorthorn cattle and Yorkshire hogs. In 1931, Dodge was appointed to the Michigan State Board of Agriculture and in 1940 became the 43rd Lieutenant Governor of Michigan—the first female Lieutenant Governor in the country. In 1957, the Wilsons gave the property and extensive grounds to found Oakland University.

Since 1971, Meadow Brook Hall has been open as a museum, conference space, and cultural center. For many years the home hosted one of the largest car shows in the world. In more recent times, Antiques Roadshow was filmed here, as well as a number of music videos.

Know Before You Go

Meadow Brook Hall offers a variety of guided and self-guided tours throughout most of the year. Group tours are available. Tickets must be reserved online in advance. There is free parking.

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