The Dodge and Wilsons embarked on a world tour in 1934.

Estate Stories: Frances Dodge Takes the World By Storm

Known as “Detroit’s #1 Glamor Girl” for her sparkling personality, penchant for adventures, and impeccable style, Frances Dodge embarked on a world tour in 1934.

The Dodge and Wilsons embarked on a world tour in 1934.She treated her mother Matilda and stepfather Alfred Wilson to a six month long journey across the southern hemisphere. They packed up 15 suitcases and seven trunks, departing from New York with only Daniel and a family friend to wave goodbye.

Their first stop was Gibraltar, Spain sailing on the SS Conte Di Savoia. It was the first of 58 cities they would travel across the 33,048 miles total on the trip. 

After sightseeing cathedrals in Spain, the group journeyed to North Africa and then headed to Bethlehem. In the Holy Land, Matilda purchased multiple Bibles and intricate carved seashells depicting scenes from the Last Supper. 

The Dodge and Wilsons embarked on a world tour in 1934.In Cairo, Egypt, the family rode camels and donkeys to view pyramids and tombs. Frances liked the donkeys so much, she purchased four of them to be shipped back to Meadow Brook Farms. They were named Cleopatra, Queen Nefertiti, King Tut, and Ramses.

From Egypt they traveled to India. Matilda wrote about the Taj Mahal’s beauty saying, “Its detail is beyond description.” The family remembers fondly sitting in Darjeeling drinking their morning coffee watching the sunrise over Mt. Everest in nearby Nepal.

Pete the Turtle

The last leg of the journey was in South Africa. On the island of Ceylon, Frances picked out a lion pelt for Daniel, currently on the wall of his bedroom. She also bought home a zebra (which she named Tiger Rag) and Pete the turtle, to live at Meadow Brook as gifts for her younger siblings Richard and Barbara. 

The Dodge and Wilson family traveled often throughout their lives bringing home a variety of souvenirs, from letter openers to jewelry, clothes to live animals. Besides the animals, many of the family’s souvenirs are still on display with a tour of Meadow Brook Hall. 

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.