Anna <I>Thomson</I> Dodge

Anna Thomson Dodge

Death 2 Jun 1970 (aged 98)
Grosse Pointe Farms, Wayne County, Michigan, USA
Burial Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan, USA
Plot Dodge Mausoleum Section 10, Lot 5
Memorial ID 14812762 View Source
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Socialite and Philanthropist. Born in Dundee, Scotland in 1871, self-taught pianist and violinist Anna Thomson Dodge (Mrs. Horace E. Dodge), widow of Horace E. Dodge Sr., was heiress to one of America's greatest automotive fortunes. After the passing of her husband in 1920, she received an income which eventually amounted to more than $1,500,000 a year, tax-free for life from an investment in municipal bonds purchased by him before his death. After the sale of Dodge Brothers in 1925 to the investment banking firm Dillon, Read & Co., which at the time was the largest cash sale of an American company, Anna and her sister-in-law Matilda equally divided $146,000,000 and Anna's share along with her income from the municipal bonds amounted to an income estimated to be worth $40,000 dollars per day.

Over a fifty-year period, Mrs. Dodge used her wealth to acquire everything she desired that her money could buy. Her most well-known project was the creation of the second Rose Terrace, a Louis XVI style house built on the shores of Lake St. Clair in Grosse Pointe Farms. The original Rose Terrace built by her husband Horace Dodge in 1910 was demolished by Mrs. Dodge in 1931. Rose Terrace II was an enlarged version of "Miramar" an estate that currently still stands in Newport, Rhode Island. Completed by 1935 and built during the great depression, the 42,000 square foot Rose Terrace II was one of America's most beautiful and most luxuriously appointed residences filled with original European art and antiques that were once housed in the palaces of European royalty. The collection rivaled museums and private estates throughout the world. The Detroit Institute of Arts still houses more than 130 pieces of fine furniture and artwork willed to the museum by Mrs. Dodge in 1970. Other pieces of artwork and fine furniture that were in Rose Terrace can be seen at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, California. Getty himself was an admirer of French art and was the largest buyer at the June 1971 Christies auction in London. Still one of the wealthiest women in the world, Anna Thomson Dodge died quietly at night in her turquoise walled bedroom in Rose Terrace on June 2, 1970, just two months shy of her 99th birthday. In her will, she remembered various Detroit charities, concert halls, churches, hospitals, and others. She left $2,000,000 to the city of Detroit to build a memorial in memory of her late husband and son, Dodge Fountain at Hart Plaza. A major benefactress in Detroit and Palm Beach society, Anna had donated throughout a 20 year period $1,000,000 to the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. She and her husband Horace were major benefactors of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and would play an important role in the construction of the then-new Orchestra Hall, which was built in 1919 in only four months.

Anna outlived her husband Horace by 50 years. She outlived both of her children, Delphine Dodge and Horace Dodge Jr, her second husband former actor Hugh Dillman, Her brother-in-law John F. Dodge, her sister-in-law Matilda Rausch Dodge Wilson, as well as many nieces, nephews and cousins. She was interred in the Dodge family Mausoleum located at Woodlawn Cemetery in Detroit, MI. In 1964, months after the death of her son Horace Jr., Mrs. Dodge offered to leave her home to the Detroit Institute of Arts but the museum said they could only accept the offer if a $10,000,000 endowment was included for upkeep and maintenance. The idea was abandoned. After her death, the Dodge heirs again offered the home to the Detroit Institute of Arts but the offer was again refused because a substantial endowment was still needed. Rose Terrace was put up for sale after the Christie's estate auction of Mrs. Dodge's personal possessions in September 1971. Another auction conducted by Christie's was held in London in late June 1971 grossing around $5,000,000. With an asking price of $1.2 million( it cost $7,000,000 to build and furnish) and color brochures depicting the mansion's history, no one wanted to take on the task of living in a house that cost a bare minimum of $12,500 a month to maintain. In 1972 Hollywood came calling. Representatives of Paramount Pictures made a request for permission to rent Rose Terrace for a film remake of "The Great Gatsby", but the estate executors declined the offer. After years of being on the market, and community efforts to save Rose Terrace, the great house was sold to a developer, partly dismantled,and was demolished in 1976 to make way for "executive homes". The passing of Anna Dodge and the demolition of Rose Terrace marked the end of a bygone era.

Biography by Michael Hojnacki
for only.

Note: Her name is incorrectly listed as "Thompson" on various internet sources. It is not necessary to contact me or findagrave administrators to change this. Her birth name is listed as Christiana Stevenson Thomson.

Sources: "The Dodges the Auto Family fortune and Misfortune" by Jean Pitrone and Joan Potter Elwart 1981 "Dodge Dynasty; The car and the family that rocked Detroit" by Caroline Latham & David Agresta 1989, "The Dodge Collection of Eighteenth-Century French and English Art in The Detroit Institute of Arts", Hudson Hill Press Inc. 1996. Many of the photographs on this page were made possible from the sources listed above, The Detroit News archives, Wayne State University, and my own collection. Click on photo for source information. If anyone intends on using photographs or biographical information from this memorial remember to credit and cite your source. Please do not plagiarize. Thank You.

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