Lawnridge Hall

1385 South Adams Road, Rochester Hills, Michigan

Lawnridge Hall has historical significance as the home of Donald C. Wilson, a prominent Detroit businessman; for its association with Danny Dodge, son of Detroit auto magnate John and Matilda Dodge; and the organization of University Presbyterian Church in Rochester Hills. The building was commissioned by Donald C. Wilson, and designed by architect J. Ivan Dyce of Detroit in 1928. Lawnridge Hall was most likely completed by 1930.

The home was located on a large lot adjacent to farmland belonging to Meadowbrook estate, owned by Mr. Wilson’s brother Alfred and his wife, Matilda Dodge Wilson. Mrs. Wilson named the estate “Lawnridge,” after her childhood summer home in Lawnridge, Illinois.

Born in 1885, in Valparaiso, Indiana, Donald Wilson was a prominent Detroit lumber manufacturer and insurance broker. He entered into a partnership with his brother Alfred G. Wilson in the wholesale lumber business in 1919, and it was through the lumber boom in Michigan and Wisconsin that the brothers gained most of their wealth. Donald Wilson remained in the firm until 1942, when it was dissolved.

Six years after Lawnridgewas built, business dealings prompted Donald Wilson to move his family to Florida, and sell his thirty-acre estate and home to his brother Alfred. Alfred Wilson purchased the estate with the intention of making it a home for his stepson Danny Dodge and his bride.

However, Dodge (1917-38) was killed while on his honeymoon, and never resided in the home, nor did his bride who inherited an estate valued at the time of his death at more than $9,000,000. In 1957, after it was announced that the Wilson’s had donated their estate, Meadowbrook, for the formation of a new university, the Presbytery of Detroit acted on plans to establish a church in the Rochester-Lake Orion-Oxford area.

Lawnridge Hall, along with eighteen acres of land were purchased from owners Charles and Am Burgess. The first worship service of the church, called The Presbyterian Church in Christian Hills, was held in February 1958 attracting a crowd that filled several roams on the main floor of the building. The first official service of University Presbyterian Church was held on October 5, 1958, in Meadowbrook Hall at the invitation of Mr. and Mrs. Wilson. A chapel was constructed by the congregation in 1963.

Lawnridge Hall is listedon the Michigan Registry of Historical Sites

Site ID#: P24390, 10/10/1989

Style: Colonial Revival

Architect/Builder: J. Ivan Dise