Matilda Dodge Wilson

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Matilda Dodge Wilson
43rd Lieutenant Governor of Michigan
In office
January 1, 1940 – January 1, 1941
GovernorLuren Dickinson
Preceded byLuren Dickinson
Succeeded byFrank Murphy
Personal details
Matilda Rausch

(1883-10-19)October 19, 1883
Walkerton, Ontario, Canada
DiedSeptember 19, 1967(1967-09-19) (aged 83)
Political partyRepublican
Children5 (2 adopted), including: Frances Dodge, Daniel Dodge, Anna Margaret
OccupationPhilanthropist, politician

Matilda Dodge Wilson (October 19, 1883 – September 19, 1967), was born Matilda Rausch in Walkerton, Ontario, Canada. She was the widow of John Francis Dodge, who co-founded the Dodge motor car company in Detroit with his brother Horace Elgin Dodge. Wilson co-founded the Oakland campus of Michigan State University, now Oakland University, with John A. Hannah. The new university was built on her 1,400-acre (5.7 km2) estate, Meadow Brook Farms.[1]


Matilda Rausch was born to German immigrants in Walkerton, Ontario, Canada. She attended public school in Detroit and then attended and graduated from the Gorsline Business College in the same city. In 1902, she began working for the Dodge Motor Company and five years later, she married founder John Dodge.

After Dodge's death in 1920, Matilda inherited his share of the Dodge Brothers Company and became one of the wealthiest women in the United States. Soon thereafter, she met lumber baron Alfred G. Wilson at the First Presbyterian Church in Detroit and they married June 29, 1925.[2] Upon Alfred Wilson's death on April 6, 1962, Matilda again received the bulk of her husband's estate.[3]

Matilda and John Dodge had three children, Frances (1914–1971), Daniel (1917–1938) and Anna Margaret (1919–1924). In addition, she was stepmother to John's three children from his first marriage. Matilda and Alfred Wilson adopted two children, Richard and Barbara.[2]

Political career[edit]

Wilson, a Republican, was appointed the 43rd Lieutenant Governor of the state of Michigan in 1940. She was the first woman to serve as Lieutenant Governor of a U.S. State.[citation needed] She was preceded by Luren D. Dickinson, Republican and followed by Frank Murphy, Democrat.[4]

Meadow Brook Hall and Music Hall[edit]

She was the author of A Place in the Country, a guidebook to her home, Meadow Brook Hall. In it she takes the reader through the mansion and introduces the reader to her art collection which includes works by Sir Joshua Reynolds, Thomas Gainsborough, Gilbert Stuart, George Romney, Frederic Remington, Emile van Marcke, Rosa Bonheur, Justus Sustermans and Louis Betts.[5]

During the later 1920s, Wilson hired the Detroit architectural firm of Smith Hinchman & Grylls to design two of the Detroit area's notable buildings, Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts (1928) and Meadow Brook Hall (1929).[6] Both were designed by William Kapp and both included architectural sculpture by Detroit sculptor Corrado Parducci.[1]

Final resting place[edit]

In 1939, Matilda and Alfred Wilson had constructed a pale granite Art Deco style mausoleum in Woodlawn Cemetery, designed by New York architect William Henry Deacy[7] and again, featuring sculpture by Corrado Parducci.[1] It is located near the south wall of the Dodge family mausoleum where her first husband was interred in 1920.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Einer Kvaran and Walt Lockley (2011). "A Guide to the architectural Sculpture in America". Archived from the original on 2011-07-07. Retrieved 2011-04-22.
  2. ^ a b "Dodge & Wilson Family". Retrieved 2011-04-30.
  3. ^ Thomas J. Holleman & James P. Gallagher (October 1978). Smith Hinchman & Grylls: 125 Years of Architecture and Engineering, 1853-1978. Detroit: Wayne State University Press. p. 118. ISBN 0-8143-1615-8.
  4. ^ "Former Lt. Governors". Archived from the original on 2014-10-25.
  5. ^ Matilda Rausch Dodge Wilson, Edited by Debbie Patrick (1998). A Place in the Country: Matilda Wilson's Personal Guidebook to Meadow Brook Hall. Oakland University Press. ISBN 0966698800.
  6. ^ Eric J. Hill and John Gallagher (2003). AIA Detroit: The American Institute of Architects Guide to Architecture in Detroit. Detroit: Wayne State University Press. ISBN 0-8143-3120-3.
  7. ^ A. Dale Northup (2003). Detroit's Woodlawn Cemetery. Arcadia Press. p. 55. ISBN 0-7385-3156-1. Retrieved 2011-04-22.
Political offices
Preceded by
Luren D. Dickinson
Lieutenant Governor of Michigan
Succeeded by
Frank Murphy