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 Appraiser Lark Mason Jr. examines a soapstone vase June 14 during the “Antiques Roadshow” filming at Meadow Brook Hall.

Appraiser Lark Mason Jr. examines a soapstone vase June 14 during the “Antiques Roadshow” filming at Meadow Brook Hall.

Photo by Donna Agusti

Meadow Brook is ‘perfect fit’ for ‘Antiques Roadshow’

By: Linda Shepard | Rochester Post | Published June 19, 2018


ROCHESTER HILLS — Five years ago, “Antiques Roadshow” executive producer Marsha Bemko attended a special dinner at Meadow Brook Hall.

“It was gorgeous,” Bemko said.

A format change — moving filming sites from conference centers to historical locations — was implemented for season 23 of the popular Public Broadcasting Service show “Antiques Roadshow,” and Bemko remembered the hall’s beautiful home and grounds.

“I called them,” Bemko said about MBH officials. “They embraced us. They are excellent hosts from every vantage and are the perfect fit. This is a beautiful setting. We will make three beautiful shows here from two days of filming.”  

“We are surrounded by beauty here instead of concrete,” said Ramona Hillier-O’Hara, an appraiser serving as a triage supervisor for “Antiques Roadshow,” directing guests to appropriate appraisal locations.

Sixty-five appraisers welcomed 3,000 guests carrying a wide variety of decorative and functional items June 14 at Meadow Brook Hall.

“We have the best appraisers in the country,” Bemko said. “They donate their time and services and pay their own travel and hotel expenses. We provide breakfast and lunch.”     

“These objects have a lot of stories to tell,” said appraiser Lark Mason Jr., who lives in Texas and New York. Mason has been with the show, traveling to all of its filming sites, since the program began in 1996. “I get such a kick out of it,” he said.

While appraising a double soapstone vase, Mason identified it as manufactured in China between 1890 and 1920.

“The soft material was easy to carve,” he said. “There was less labor involved.”

A motif of blossoming flowers and a double vase signify love and marriage, he said.

Appraiser Timothy Gordon, from Montana, examined a World War II ration book. The book’s value is in its story to the family who used it to purchase gasoline, tires, sugar, meat, silk, shoes and nylon, he said.

“It shows the gumption of Americans,” he said. “People don’t get that concept now. It is priceless to Americans.”

While viewing individual items, appraisers keep an eye out for possible on-show interview opportunities.

“If items are more valuable, they get a producer,” Bemko said.

The 23rd season of “Antiques Roadshow” visited filming locations at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, in Florida; the Philbrook Museum of Art, in Oklahoma; the Churchill Downs racetrack, in Kentucky; and the Hotel del Coronado, in California — before concluding with Meadow Brook Hall.

The Meadow Brook Hall episodes of “Antiques Roadshow” will air on Detroit Public Television in 2019, Bemko said. Historical locations were first attempted during season 22 of the show.

“We tried Newport (Rhode Island) last year,” she said. “It has given the show an injection of freshness. It makes a big difference. We want some history.”