Gordon Hall’s Current Fundraising Goal is a Race Against Time


By Doug Marrin, STN Reporter

Built 179 years ago on a hill overlooking Dexter, majestic Gordon Hall is slowly being renovated to a state worthy of the grand mansion. The work moves at the speed of fundraising, and the current campaign is closing in on its goal with less than a month to go.

Last October, a group of Gordon Hall supporters offered to match every dollar donated for the historic manor’s restoration up to $20,500. The Dexter Area Historical Society (DAHS) took the group up on its offer and set a goal to raise $50,000 for renovations. The deadline for the campaign is January 31.

Historic Gordon Hall is one of Dexter’s most iconic and cherished landmarks. Completed in 1843, Judge Samuel Dexter named the new manor on his 1,700-acre estate “Gordon Hall” in honor of his mother, Catherine Gordon Dexter.

Gordon Hall was sold after the death of Judge Dexter’s wife in 1899. The manor fell into disuse and disrepair until Dexter’s granddaughter, Katherine McCormick, purchased the property and restored it. In 1950, McCormick donated the property to the University of Michigan, which subdivided the home into four apartments for university faculty. In 2005, the DAHS purchased Gordon Hall with help from Webster and Scio Townships, the Village of Dexter, Chelsea Retirement Community, and several individual donations.

Since then, DAHS has steadily raised funds for the slow work of renovating Gordon Hall for public use. The property has become a popular spot for many private and public events.

Most recent was DAHS’s annual “Christmas at the Mansion.” Many area families had a great visit with Santa, sampled cookies and hot chocolate, and enjoyed a fun afternoon and evening outdoors with excellent weather. Carolers from the Dexter Community Players supported the festive atmosphere with everyone’s favorite holiday songs.

Funds raised in the current campaign will go toward the first phase of a geothermal heating and cooling system for Gordon Hall. The manor remains unheated in the winter because the existing heating system is radiant electric panels – an archaic mid-20th century heating system that today is too expensive to operate. The heat will significantly increase DAHS’s ability to host events throughout the year.

Thus far in the fundraiser, DAHS reports,

“The Gordon Hall Challenge Grant campaign has raised a total of $42,161 as of 12/27/21. If you have already donated, we thank you for your support of Dexter’s historic home. If you would like to donate, you can visit the DAHS website at www.dexterhistory.org and click the DONATE button to use a credit card. To use a check, make it to DAHS and note “Gordon Hall renovation” on the memo line. Then mail it to DAHS 3443 Inverness Street Dexter, MI 48130.”

Photo: DAHS

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