Clio Logo

This historic mansion was built from 1926 to 1927 to serve as a summer and weekend retreat for media mogul William Scripps and his family. Known at that time as Moulton Manor, the estate comprised 3,830 acres known as Wildwood Farms, upon which Aberdeen Angus cattle, swine, sheep, and poultry were raised. William Scripps, the son of Detroit News founder James E. Scripps and himself the founder of Detroit's WWJ radio station, made the estate his family's full-time residence in 1930. After Scripps died in 1952, part of the property was sold to investors. Since 1956, the mansion has been the home of Guest House, a substance abuse treatment center for Roman Catholic clergy, while much of the surrounding farm acreage has become part of local, county, and state park systems. The Scripps Mansion was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007.

William E. Scripps Mansion, 2008

Plant, Building, Window, Sky

William Edmund Scripps was the son of Detroit News founder James E. Scripps. He married Nina A. Downey in 1901, with whom he had four children. Although Scripps was the heir to the Detroit News and the Scripps family of newspapers, the operation of the newspaper empire was run for the most part by Scripps' brother-in-law, George Gough Booth, leaving William Scripps free to pursue his interests in sustainable agriculture, mechanical engineering, and aviation. Scripps was interested in pursuing modern, scientific methods of stock breeding and began purchasing farm acreage in Orion Township as early as 1916. There he established Wildwood Farms to be a model stock operation. Many of his Aberdeen Angus cattle were award winners. He was also licensed to operate a wildlife refuge on the property.

Scripps' other interests led him to found a glider manufacturing company, and to co-found the first commercial radio station in the United States, known as WWJ, among other notable activities.

The Scripps mansion house was built at Wildwood Farm in 1926-27. It was designed by Clarence E. Day, who was Nina Scripps' brother-in-law, in the Norman and Tudor styles. The grounds of the mansion were designed by landscape architect Bryant Fleming in 1927-28.

In 1955, the house and 105 acres were acquired by Austin Ripley for Guest House, Inc., a non-profit organization seeking to establish a residential treatment center for alcoholic priests and women religious. It remains the home of Guest House, Inc. to this day.

In 1966-1967, a section of the estate containing tenant homes and barns were developed as Keatington Antique Village, later named Olde World Canterbury Village. Most of the remaining estate acreage was eventually acquired by the state of Michigan to form the Bald Mountain State Recreation Area. Another portion became a township campus and park.

National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form, Scripps, William Edmund and Nina A. Downey Estate, National Archives and Records Administration [ : retrieved 23 Oct 2021]

"William Edmund Scripps," in Burton, Clarence Monroe, History of Wayne County And the City of Detroit, Michigan. Chicago: The S. J. Clarke publishing company, 1930, pp.97-98.

Janette, Fred E. "Michigan Gets Angus Honors," Detroit News, December 2, 1930, p.35.

"William E. Scripps Dies," Detroit News, June 12, 1952, p.1.

Konzelman, Carl. "Big-Scale Planning Arrives: City-Size Concept in Orion Twp. Looks Toward Growth Needs," Detroit News, July 3, 1964, p.20.

"Public dedication of historical marker to take place at William E. Scripps estate," May 11, 2009, Metro Mode Metro Detroit Edition [Second Wave Media, : retrieved 25 Oct 2021]

Image Sources(Click to expand)

Guest House, GFDL <>, via Wikimedia Commons