Curator's Corner

How You Can Adopt an Artifact

To better protect and interpret The Hall as it looked when it opened in 1929, Meadow Brook Hall is pleased to announce the Adopt-an-Artifact program. Each year, a small number of specific restoration projects will be chosen and each step of the process will be monetized and opened to the public for “adoption.” This provides a unique opportunity for individuals, families, businesses, or a group of friends to choose an object or objects that mean something to them and to directly contribute to their care.

The Adopt-an-Artifact program is first tackling the restorations of the Breakfast Room and the Sun Porch. This is a unique and exciting way to launch the program, as every donor will be contributing to the restoration of an entire room. The final result - for donors and for guests - will be all-encompassing.

How it Works

The benefits of restoring entire rooms are almost as great as the cost, so some of the conservation costs have been split up into more manageable amounts for individual donors. If more than one donor wants to adopt the same object, the Curator will provide other options of comparable cost. Personal donations of any amount are always appreciated and used specifically for conservation. This is an annual project, so stay tuned for more opportunities to donate to an object or a cause that is important to you.

Those with questions or who are interested in helping Meadow Brook conserve its collections through the new Adopt-an-Artifact program should contact Curator Madelyn Rzadkowolski by phone (248-364-6253), email (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), or U.S. Mail at Meadow Brook Hall, 480 S. Adams Road, Rochester, MI 48309.

Adopt-an-Artifact Form


The list of adoptive donors will be made public and each will receive a certificate detailing the conservation work. Before and after photographs of the objects will be displayed in The Hall and on the website. Donors will also be invited to a special exhibit displaying the newly conserved items.

Breakfast Room

The intimate and unusual Breakfast Room is the only room inspired by non-western design. An octagonal room with a domed ceiling, this room is styled after Chinoiserie, or a western interpretation of Chinese and Japanese design. The family ate breakfast together in this room and often opened the doors to let the breezes and scents in from the adjoining gardens. In 1938, this room hosted a momentous occasion: the wedding reception for Dan Dodge. Though today used by many brides as the staging area for the grand entrance to their ceremony in the Pegasus Garden, it also sees use by catering staff, tour groups and parties.

Up for Adoption

1. Restore marble floors.  |  ADOPTED: $10,000 through the generous support of the Wilson Fund

2. Purchase custom rug to protect marble floors. COST: $3,000

3. Replicate curtains.  |  ADOPTED: $3,200 through a generous donation of The Women’s Committee for the support of Meadow Brook Hall

4. Conserve two Japanese embroideries.   |  2 of 2 ADOPTED: $500 through the generous support of Frank and Janet Cassise; $500 through the generous support of Ms. Lisa Drummond and Mrs. Hildred Fleming

5. Replicate glass push plate and restore painted door into Serving Pantry. COST: $1,000

6. Restore inset shelving unit. COST: $200  |  ADOPTED: $200 through the generosity of Mr. Corey Clark and Mrs. Meredith Long

7. Restore lacquered dining table. COST: 10 donors at $630 each

8. Restore lacquered side table. COST: 4 donors at $570 each

9. Restore two lacquered dining chairs. COST: 2 chairs, $925 each

10. Replicate six chandelier lamp shades.  |  ADOPTED: $180 through the generous support of Roberta Bresette; $180 through the generous support of Mary Sloan

11. Purchase silk hydrangea blossoms that match the ones in the Breakfast Garden. |  ADOPTED: $100 through the generous support of Ms. Lisa Drummond and Mrs. Hildred Fleming


Sun Porch

On the opposite end of The Hall, the Sun Porch is an equally cheery room, this one filled with items that the family bought on their many trips abroad. Matilda could look out the windows to see the Greensward where the family rode horses or Evergreen Hill, where she planted 100 evergreen saplings in 1930. We have found no early upholstery samples or mentions of the room to hint what the colors were in the 1929 black-and-white photograph, but in 1946 and again later, possibly in the 1950s, Matilda reupholstered the furniture in shades of green. The new color palette will follow the colors popular for sun rooms in the 1920s, which were typically greens, yellows and reds.

Up for Adoption

1. Repair and hang pewter tray from India.  |  ADOPTED: $75 through the generous support of Peggy Gamble

2. Purchase mix of real and silk plants. COST: 4 donors at $100  |  ADOPTED: $100 in honor of Dr. Sue Martin; $100 in honor of Diane Brannon-Medemar

3. Clean and repair green and gold area rug. COST: $230 and $700 respectively

4. Clean and restore two rattan fan back chairs. COST: 2 chairs at $300 each  |  ADOPTED: $600 through the generous support of Geoff & Suzanne Upward in honor of their 2014 wedding in the Sun Porch.

5. Replicate ottoman. ADOPTED: $1,150 through the generous support of Mr. & Mrs. Bill John

6. Restore bamboo and wicker furniture. COST: 8 seats at $660 each

7. Reupholster rattan furniture. COST: $2,000

8. Replicate and produce the original fabric: 5 donors at $500  |  ADOPTED: $500 through the generous support of Mr. Greydon Hyde & Mrs. Christine Burnard; $500 through the generous support of Jenny Kenny

9. Purchase matching pillows. 4 donors at $30 for four pillows   |   ADOPTED: $60 through the generous support of Dan & Annie Williams; $60 through the generous support of Debby Gentner; $60 through the generous support of Diane Gurzick

10. Restore Majolica style urn.  |  ADOPTED: $1,200 through a generous donation from the Stoney Creek Questers Group


Decorative Arts
Paperweight Vase with White Dogwood Flowers, 1919
Louis Comfort Tiffany (American, 1848-1933)
Favrile glass, 15 5/16 inches high

Explore the world of the Decorative Arts at Meadow Brook Hall. Collected in the 20th century by the Dodge and Wilson families, our collection encompasses some of the finest objects from companies around the world including Sevre, Tiffany, Lalique, Rookwood, Oscar Bach and Paul Poiret. Also on view are original custom decorative objects and furniture created between 1926 and 1929 from interior design firms such as Hampton Shops and Hayden Company for Meadow Brook Hall.

Fine Art
The Virgin and Child
Raffaellina de Garbo (1476-1524)
Oil on Panel, framed 28" x 16"

As you tour Meadow Brook, you will have the chance to view the collection of fine art the family amassed. Although the collection spans multiple centuries and cultures, the collection focuses mostly on the 19th century artists that the Wilsons enjoyed. Especially prominent are landscape paintings and family portraits.

Coat of black wool lined in red crepe, edging of gold metallic braid and gilded leather, 1924
Paul Poiret (French, 1879-1944)

Meadow Brook Hall is graced by many original textiles, both in our extensive costume collection (periodically on view) and our decorative collection. Antique tapestries, rugs and linens showcase the extraordinary skill that went into many of these works and represent an area of craft that is often underappreciated today.

Digital Dress: 200 Years of Urban Style

From 2003-2005, Meadow Brook Hall participated in a project with Wayne State University, WSU College of Fine and Performing Arts, the Detroit Historical Museum and The Henry Ford.  In partnership we created a universally accessible, unique, research quality web portal for increasing access to a multi-institutional collection of 5,000 digital images of men's, women's and children's clothing and accessories. These objects, including 450 from Meadow Brook Hall's collection, have been photographed and studied, with the results available to the public HERE.

Limestone Carved Corbel, 1927
Designed by Corrado Parducci

Meadow Brook Hall is the preeminent example of Tudor revival architecture in the United States. At 88,000 square feet, the home boast exquisite architectural ornamentation and detailing by top craftsmen in woodworking, masonry, plaster and metal work. Every room provides a new surprise whether you are exploring stories from Alfred Wilson's life carved into the Frieze of his private study, passing finely modeled custom door hardware or staring in awe at one of the region's most beautiful plaster ceilings.

Pegasus on Mount Helicon, 1949
Avard Fairbanks (1897-1987)
Bronze with Verdigris patina

While few of the original gardens were ever fully constructed, the 1928 plan created by English landscape architect Arthur Davidson for Meadow Brook Hall originally called for a wide variety of formal and informal gardens. Today some of those original features exist and intermingle with modern gardens that continue to inspire with their beauty. The Pegasus garden (seen here) was part of the original design but was not completed until 1949. It features the striking figure of Pegasus on Mount Helicon and was created by famed sculptor Avard Fairbanks, who designed the original Dodge Ram hood ornament. It is one of two sculptures of his that grace our landscape.

Click HERE to view an Interactive Estate Map of the gardens at Meadow Brook Hall.