Two members of the Oakland University community have been recognized for their dedication to historic preservation for their work to save the original Gate Lodge entrance to Meadow Brook Estate.
Community member Michael Klieman, OU ’83, and Madelyn Chrapla, curator of Oakland University’s Meadow Brook Hall, received the 2022 Earl Borden Preservation Leadership award during the Rochester Hills City Council Meeting on November 14, 2022.
“The restoration of the Gate Lodge was a dream I never thought would be realized,” said Chrapla. “It has been incredibly meaningful to be part of such a wonderful project, and inspiring to see how a dedicated group of individuals can come together to create something for the community.”
Built in 1928, the Gate Lodge welcomed visitors to Meadow Brook Hall, the country estate of Matilda and Alfred Wilson.
The gate keeper — who lived in the attached two-bedroom Tudor-revival house — directed guests down Maple Lane, a winding gravel drive that dipped over the hills and meadows, past the deer park and farm buildings, affording only an occasional peek of The Hall.
The Gate Lodge is one of the most visible historic buildings on Oakland University’s campus, due to its location at the intersection of Adams and Avon Roads, but for many years, it has sat unused and was susceptible to the natural elements that can affect an unoccupied building.
Michael Klieman, who is a regular golfer at Katke-Cousins Golf Course, not only noticed the distress of the building, but decided to act upon it. He gathered a group of dedicated friends and golfers to volunteer for the work, locate suitable craftsmen who could complete the myriad of jobs inside and outside the Gate Lodge, and fundraise for the entire project.
“Michael Klieman saw a historic building in distress, recruited friends to finance repairs and enlisted Madelyn to lend her expertise of the building to save the Gate Lodge entrance to Meadow Brook Estate,” said Richard Stamps, local historian and retired professor from OU’s Anthropology department, who nominated the pair for the award.
In 2020, they approached Michael Westfall, Vice President of University Advancement, who immediately recognized this as an opportunity to restore an important building and to engage with the community. Westfall asked Meadow Brook Hall, with their long history of stewardship of the historic buildings on Oakland University’s campus, to assist with the project. The Gatehouse Society, LLC, was formed, and these volunteers made it known this was a historic preservation project, meant to return the Gate Lodge to its 1928 condition.
Ten years prior, Oakland University had worked to secure and protect the building, which included repairing the clay tile roof and copper flashing, stabilizing the basement walls to mitigate water intrusion and restoring some of the interior walls and windows, and all of the plumbing was re-done before occupancy, so the group initially thought the project could be completed relatively quickly.
As the Gatehouse Society began working, the list of repairs only seemed to grow, but they were dedicated in working with Meadow Brook Hall and finding the right craftsmen to restore the interior (including plaster, electric, lights, woodwork, windows and the rooms) and the exterior (including rebuilding the historic gates and purple martin birdhouse according to the original blueprints, restoring the historic landscaping and installing water mitigation systems to alleviate future damage from storm water).
A gallery of images showcasing the Gate Lodge restoration project is below!