A $2.7 million visitor center will be built behind the existing family garages at Meadow Brook Hall.

A $2.7 million visitor center will be built behind the existing family garages at Meadow Brook Hall.

Photo provided by Meadow Brook Hall

Meadow Brook Hall to welcome new visitor center

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published August 24, 2022


ROCHESTER — Guests will soon have a new place to gather to learn all about Meadow Brook Hall and its rich history.

The national historic landmark, located on Oakland University’s campus, will welcome a new visitor center next year to help the estate expand and enhance its collection of tours, educational programs and community experiences.

“It’s been in the works for many, many, many years,” said Shannon O’Berski, of Meadow Brook Hall and Gardens. “We’ve identified it as something that we felt would really elevate the visitors’ experience when they visit Meadow Brook Hall.”

The $2.7 million visitor center project was designed to expand behind the existing family garages in an effort to maintain the historic integrity of the estate buildings while creating modern and functional spaces.

The new visitor center, O’Berski said, will redefine the guest experience for everyone who walks through the gates by establishing a new formal entrance to the estate, rerouting the entrance to provide a magnificent first look at the 88,000-square-foot historic home.

The overall visitor center — which will include both new construction and use of the historic garage space — will be approximately 4,800 square feet and feature a welcome gateway to greet guests, an open-air plaza and a patio for gathering, an orientation gallery, a learning center, an interactive exhibition and gallery space, a multimedia theater, and more.

“It helps the visitor understand a little bit more about what Meadow Brook is, why it’s significant, and most importantly, about the people who lived here,” O’Berski said.

Built in 1929, Meadow Brook Hall is the historic home of Oakland University founders Alfred and Matilda Dodge Wilson and the fourth-largest historic home in the nation. In 2021, Meadow Brook celebrated its 50th year as a historic house museum, cultural center, and events and wedding venue.

Construction, which will take place in 2023, will be managed by Rochester-based Frank Rewold & Sons, who has a special connection to the estate. Owner Frank Rewold Jr. is the grandson of the company’s founder, Frank Rewold, who was Matilda Dodge Wilson’s personal handyman and built and repaired many of the structures at Meadow Brook and Oakland University. The design will be handled by HopkinsBurns Design Studio.

“It’s not going to be a long construction project, probably no more than six to seven months once construction actually starts, so we could break ground after the first of the year and have everything up, ideally a year from now,” O’Berski said.

A philanthropic campaign, which is currently underway, has raised a quarter of the overall fundraising goal of $2 million. Several named giving opportunities are still available.

Meadow Brook Hall Executive Director Bill Matt said it’s difficult to overstate how impactful the new visitor center will be for the future of Meadow Brook Hall.

“This project will energize our efforts and establish Meadow Brook’s future as a premier destination for families, couples and people of all ages. This effort is many years in the making, and we are grateful for the enthusiastic support of our community, donors and Oakland University leadership. We are thrilled to launch this next phase of Meadow Brook,” Matt said in a statement.

A groundbreaking event for the new visitor center will be held at the start of construction in 2023.

“The visitor center allows us to free up more space on the estate property to expand our educational programs,” O’Berski added. “We’re looking into increasing our programming, adding more children’s camps, art camps, science camps, growing into a lecture series, having more space to align with our mission when it comes to education and sharing with the community.”

For more information, call (248) 364-6200 or visit meadowbrookhall.org/visitorcenter.