Meadow Brook Hall, the Dodge family-donated estate built from 1915-1947, was recognized as a national historic landmark July 20. Although the National Park Service, a segment of the United States Department of the Interior, announced the news last March, the ceremony commemorating the occasion took place Friday afternoon.
The honor was legitimized prior to the event when a plaque was given to the site by the National Park Service. The plaque explains the reasoning behind the sprawling 110-room mansion becoming a historic site such as it being “an exceptional example of the American country estate,” and “the largest and most impressive example of Tudor Revival architecture in the United States.”
Pride in Meadow Brook Hall encouraged several local citizens to work at the estate as volunteers. On Friday, those volunteers were running all of the activities. Volunteers were not limited to adults, however, as many high school students and even local boy scouts were involved in cleaning up at the end of the event.
Oakland county native and volunteer Bill Cichowski expressed appreciation and enthusiasm for the people who worked hard to have the site become nationally recognized.
“Robin Gardner, director of Meadow Brook Hall’s administration and finance, has been in this thing since seven years ago, when they started applying for this,” Cichowski said. “They (Meadow Brook Hall’s Business office) wrote up an extensive (formal petition) that went to the National Park Service. Then, after all that hard work, here we are.”
The event was designated “Hug the Hall,” a title meant to be symbolic of attendees forming a ring around Meadow Brook Hall in order to show appreciation for the newly designated site.
Michelle Azema, Oakland county resident and mother of three girls in attendance, returned to the university for the first time in six years for the occasion.
“It was awesome … there were just so many activities and the balloons releasing, it was really fun,” Azema said. “You know, I have little guys and I wanted to come because it’s a family event … it’s a good place for them to kind of wet their whistle for the arts and to see the beauty because they haven’t seen anything like this. I was really glad we could be a part of it.”
The event concluded with the release of several hundred balloons of varying colors. Each side of the manor was given a specific color, and as participants lined up around the mansion, they were handed balloons and given the option of including a personal message tied to the string to be found later when the balloons popped. The person whose message is found furthest from the mansion will receive a prize.
“It’s all American materials and all American people worked on the house; that helps make it distinguishable,” Cichowski said.
Watch the video online at The Oakland Post’s youtube channel.
Contact Staff Reporter Mark McMillan via email at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @markamcmillan