Glamor Girl of the Great Estate

By Diana Dillaber Murray, The Oakland Press

The kick off of the Holiday Walk at the Rochester Hills home of automobile heiress Frances Dodge. Tuesday, November 25, 2014. Tim Thompson – The Oakland Press

If you go to Meadow Brook Holiday Walk

•Tour hours are Monday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., with last admittance at 4 p.m., and special evening hours Dec. 15, 21, 22 and 23 until 9 p.m. with last admittance at 8 p.m.).

•Tickets are $20 for adults, $5 for children 17 and under accompanied by an adult. Children age 2 and under are free. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, seniors age 62 and older will receive $5 off admission. All tours are self-guided and reservations are not required.

• Reservations are required for all special events, excluding the free visit with Santa.

• Free visit with Santa at Danny’s Cabin, Dec.13 and Dec. 14

• Breakfast with Santa, Dec. 7 and 14

• The cost for both the breakfast and the supper events is $30 for adults and $25 for children.

• Cost to attend a tea is $50 per person.

• To make a reservation or purchase tickets, call (248) 364-6252.

• For more information about the Meadow Brook Hall Holiday Walk, special events, hours and tickets, call 248-364-6200 or visit meadowbrookhall.org.

Meadow Brook Hall is fully self-funded, relying on special events such as the annual Holiday Walk for the preservation and interpretation of this National Historic Landmark.

Meadow Brook Hall’s 43rd annual Holiday Walk through the lavishly decorated rooms of the mansion will celebrate the life of Frances Dodge, the automotive heiress and glamour girl of The Great Estate.

The Holiday Walk opens at 11 a.m. Friday, Nov. 28 and runs through Dec. 23 and will celebrate the 100th birthday of the first daughter of automotive pioneer John Dodge and Matilda Dodge Wilson.

Frances Matilda Dodge was born on Nov. 27, 1914 just two weeks after her father and uncle released their first Dodge Brothers car.

One exhibit that is symbolic of Frances Dodge’s life, from extravagant parties to glitzy gowns to her achievements in the equestrian arena, includes her designer ice blue satin wedding gown complete with a pearl tiara and a four-and-half yard train.

Visitors will learn about Frances’ many successes as an accomplished horsewoman and gain insight into her family life with original home movies, photos and mementos.

Frances Dodge drove a sleigh filled with presents to Meadow Brook’s front gate every Christmas,

Guests also will see the sights and sounds of Frances’ 25th birthday party and the legendary crooner who serenaded her.

Children of all ages can stroll down the wintry path to Danny’s Cabin, which features historic sleds and sleighs, including Santa’s own.They will also discover an American Girl tea party and more at Knole Cottage behind the mansion.

During the weekends throughout the Holiday Walk, kids can also “gallop” their way through The Hall to locate the pony ornaments hidden among the boughs of the many decorated trees – and receive a prize if they find them all.

Families will enjoy hot chocolate and a holiday treat.

Matilda Dodge Wilson, widow of auto pioneer John Dodge, and her second husband, Alfred Wilson, constructed the mansion between 1926 and 1929. It was named a National Historic Landmark in 2012.

The Tudor-revival style architecture is especially renowned for its superb craftsmanship, architectural detailing and grand scale of 88,000 square feet. It was the center of a country estate that included 1,500 acres, numerous farm buildings, recreational facilities, several residences and formal landscape.

The presenting sponsor for the 2014 Holiday Walk is the Oakland University Credit Union.

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