Matilda Dodge Wilson, the lady of the manor at Meadow Brook Hall, had a sweeping bedroom suite that included the largest bedroom in The Hall, closets and a deluxe bathroom. As an upper class woman, Matilda’s daily routine could have included up to four changes of clothing — from morning dress to afternoon dress to evening gown.
As Matilda came of age at the turn of the 20th century and her social, civic, political and philanthropic career spanned six decades, the amount and styles of clothing she acquired from 1900-1967 is astounding. From the flapper styles of the Roaring Twenties to the go-go boots of the Swinging Sixties, Meadow Brook Hall has a wide collection of original costumes from Matilda and other family members that lived in The Hall.
Matilda’s neatly organized closet in her bedroom has compartments for dresses, coats, shoes, and hats. As a stickler for organization and tidiness, the closets are numbered and each item had its own designated spot. Her “closet” actually spans two rooms: a dressing room with mirrored doors and a smaller closet for items like shoes and purses. Down the hall, Matilda had a full bathroom with a tub, toilet room, and a foot bath.
Since many of her clothes didn’t have zippers and had to change three to four times a day, Matilda employed a lady’s maid, Mary Mathews, to help her get dressed for the day. Mary also did Matilda’s hair and nails in the beauty salon that was on the top floor of The Hall. Mary was Matilda’s confidant and one of the highest-ranking staff members of The Hall back in its heyday.
Want to see Matilda’s closet for yourself? The general guided house tour takes visitors through her suite. This tour is offered daily and reservations are not required.
This article appears in a special Spring 2013 issue of Meadow Brook Magazine. The magazine publishes bi-annually and Meadow Brook Members receive it as part of their membership.