Not only is Meadow Brook Hall celebrating its fabulous ninetieth year in 2019, so is one of The Hall’s original residents!
Richard Wilson was born on May 15, 1929. He was adopted at the age of one by Matilda and Alfred Wilson. He was brought home to Meadow Brook Hall from an orphanage in Chicago in November 1930 and was immediately welcomed into the family by his older siblings, Frances and Daniel Dodge. Another sister, Barbara, was adopted the following year.
The Hall wanted to honor Richard’s milestone birthday, combined with another celebration — the unveiling of the Wilson Playhouse. While many visitors of Meadow Brook are familiar with Knole Cottage and Danny’s Cabin, the Wilson Playhouse is the newest addition that was brought over from its most recent location at the Oakland University golf course. Richard and Barbara shared the playhouse while growing up on Meadow Brook Estate.
The birthday celebration kicked off at 10 a.m. on the beautiful summer day of June 29 (which also happened to be Matilda and Alfred Wilson’s 94th wedding anniversary). Meadow Brook members, volunteers and distinguished guests mingled outside Danny’s Cabin, helping themselves to a delicious brunch inside the cabin. The guest of honor himself arrived in a 1949 Dodge Wayfarer convertible — very similar to the one he received as a gift when we graduated from Culver in 1947.
After Richard made his grand entrance, Executive Director Geoff Upward welcomed everyone to the special event. Live musical entertainment followed with a medley of popular songs from the Thirties to 2019. Richard also answered questions from the audience, ranging from “What was your favorite room in The Hall?” to a curious young attendee who asked “Did you play hide and seek in the house?” Of course, since it was a belated birthday celebration, Meadow Brook staff brought out cake and cupcakes while everyone sang “Happy Birthday” to Richard.
Geoff also introduced the Wilson Playhouse and the new “family area” that the new trio of playhouses is called. Situated on a hill overlooking Danny’s Cabin and surrounded by bucolic gardens, the Wilson Playhouse is a one-room cottage sure to fuel the imagination of any youngster exploring the Great Estate.
Richard also had the honors of officially opening his old playhouse to the public. After hanging a plaque inside, Richard and his family took the first tour of the playhouse.
You can see the “new” Wilson Playhouse on the Walking Estate tour, held every day at 2:00 p.m. now through September 1.