The cabin that molded Danny Dodge

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The cabin’s garage, complete with an antique Dodge automobile. Daniel Dodge’s father was a co-creator of Dodge automobiles. 

By Ali DeRees

Nestled in the peaceful woods north of Meadow Brook Hall is the cabin of Daniel (Danny) Dodge. It was a place where a young boy could escape and play with his trains and planes, and a place where a young man would cultivate his love for automobiles.

Danny was the only son of John Dodge, co-founder of Dodge Brothers Company, and Matilda Dodge Wilson, founder of Oakland University. After John Dodge’s death in 1920, Matilda married Alfred Wilson in 1925.           

The cabin was moved in 2013 from its original location on the east side of the property by the golf course, closer to the estate by the gardens and Mill Cottage.

Meadow Brook Hall Curator Madelyn Rzadkowolski said the cabin was moved in two different sections, and the process took a few moments to ensure everything was moved safely and securely.

Rzadkowolski said the cabin was built in two sections at different times and points in Danny’s life. She said the cabin, in a way, grew with him.

In 1926, the cabin was built as more of a play area for young Danny, and in 1937, Danny built the garage where he worked on a diesel engine, kept his motorcycle and tinkered with different vehicles and automobiles.

Rzadkowolski said she thinks the cabin could be seen as somewhat of a getaway for Danny and that its original location near Meadow Brook Farms helped.

“I think he did value his alone time,” Rsadkowolski said. “He probably enjoyed having it out by the farm.”

Meadow Brook Hall Student Manager Mike Katnik described the cabin as “our new old exhibit.”

Katnik mentioned some of Danny’s favorite childhood activities that he enjoyed at his cabin.

“As a kid, he had his trains,” he said. “One of his big hobbies was his planes.”

Katnik also said how unique the cabin was compared to any other child’s play place.

“A playhouse with a bathroom is very cutting edge,” he said. “It was very Davey Crocket.”

As Danny got older, he spent most of his time in the garage tearing down cars with his dad and uncle, according to Katnik.

“He had a real mechanical inclination to automotive machines,” he said.

Danny’s life was cut short when he died in a boating accident at the age of 21, according to Katnik.

The cabin provides a “direct correlation to the lives of the family,” Katnik said. “It has a different appeal.”

Rzadkowolski said she also believes exhibits such as the cabin provide a special look at the children’s lives at the estate.

“They are more interpretive displays on growing up on the estate,” she said.

Rzadkowolski said Danny’s cabin is now included in the Holiday Walk and they are excited to have it incorporated in their tours of the Meadow Brook Estate. 

Contact Campus and Administration Editor Ali DeRees at [email protected]