Halloween Card from Meadow Brook 1929

Estate Stories: A Meadow Brook Halloween

Happy Halloween from Meadow Brook Hall! 

Halloween Card from Meadow Brook 1929
A 1929 Halloween card from Meadow Brook

Dating back almost 2,000 years to Ireland, Halloween celebrations have changed quite a lot through the decades. This year we’re

looking back on the history of Halloween and the past celebrations of this frightful night at Meadow Brook Hall.

Dressing in costume for Halloween started as a pagan belief that a disguise would make the wearer unrecognizable to traveling spirits that roam the land on All Hallows Eve. Initially, costumes of goblins and ghouls were homemade.

Kids costume pattern from Judy
Costume Patterns donated by Judy, Matilda’s Granddaughter

In the 1930s, consumerism changed the way society dressed up, when radio shows and cereal brands started advertising trick-or-treat costumes of their beloved characters. Halloween nights were soon filled with name-brand superheroes and Mickey Mouses. 

In the 1920s, Halloween parties at home were popular and featured extravagant costumes and games.

Meadow Brook celebrated Halloween in style with Daniel and Frances taking turns hosting a party every year. 

Frances, Daniel, and Anna Margaret dressed up for Arabian Nights.
Frances, Daniel, and Anna Margaret Dodge dressed up for Arabian Nights in 1923.

The first Halloween party at The Hall in 1929 was hosted by Frances and it was advertised in the Detroit Free Press as the “Hallowe’en Dinner Event of the Week.” Frances invited twelve of her friends to a costume party on the estate and the news media reported “Hallowe’en games with witches and goblins will entertain guests.” Though there is no record of the games played during the party, activities like bobbing for apples, carving pumpkins and divination games to discover who a person would marry, were popular in the 1920s. 

In 1931, it was once again Frances’ turn to host the Halloween Party. The news reported Frances had a Hallowe’en masquerade dance where she invited 40 of her school friends, “who will return shortly to their studies.” Frances thrilled her friends when she showed up dressed as a cowboy complete with a small mustache. She was voted “funniest” in the party’s costume contest. 

Whether you’re dressing up for the Halloween celebrations as a 1920s flapper, a cowboy, or Mickey Mouse, Meadow Brook Hall wishes you a happy – and safe – Halloween!

Be captivated by the people, places and tales that make Meadow Brook Hall so remarkable. Our Estate Stories series unlocks the vaults, dives into the archives and seeks out tales of the Great Estate to pique your interest and enrich your life.