Meadow Brook Hall’s Lower Level features the Fountain Room, the two-story Gothic-inspired Ballroom and the Game Room.
The location of informal rooms for entertaining on the lower level reminds us that this is indeed an American home of the early 20th century. In a time before air conditioning, the location of these rooms below grade kept them cool and comfortable.
Named for the lion-head fountain on the north wall, the Fountain Room serves as a reception area for the Ballroom. Gothic arched doors opposite the staircase lead to a projection room for the Ballroom.
This will be your last chance for restrooms.
The Ballroom is a perfect representation of how Matilda and Alfred Wilson – and their architect William Kapp – merged historic architectural elements and décor with the best of 1920s technology.
The Hall’s 24 fireplaces and 39 chimneys could almost be viewed as decoration, thanks to a steam heating system whose radiators are hidden behind the walls. The wood paneling, half-timbered upper story and stone elements also disguise the room’s construction: like an auto factory, The Hall is built with reinforced concrete.
The wood-paneled wall opposite the fireplace holds another secret: hidden doors that swing open to reveal a projection room. When not hosting elegant parties, the family enjoyed watching home movies, cartoons and films on a large screen that came down over the fireplace.
Comedian Charlie Chaplin was one of their favorite actors: can you find his image hidden in the room?
The Ballroom’s grand proportions and superbly carved wooden arch beams creates an awe-inspiring impression. The beautifully detailed stained-glass window insets, created by J. Scott Williams, depict symbols of entertainment: poetry, drama and art.
A colorful carved wood frieze of playing cards, dice, checkers and chess pieces sets the theme for the pub-styled Games Room, featuring a spectator gallery - or “heckler’s bench” – in the back where guests had a perfect view of the beautifully-carved pool/billiards table.
The playful door hardware (latch, handle and hinges), representing billiard cue sticks and other game elements, adds to the theme of the room.
The curved stone Secret Staircase begins in this room and traverses all four levels of the house, allowing Alfred Wilson quick, easy access to his principal rooms. From the Games Room, it reaches his study, then his bedroom and finally storage on the fourth floor (which you can see on the Behind the Scenes tour!). It may not look “secret,” but you probably didn’t notice the entrance in Alfred’s study.
Go straight when you leave the Games Room to proceed up the staircase and outside for the Estate portion of the tour. If you need an elevator, turn left to head back to the elevator and press “G.”