William E. Scripps Estate, Lake Orion, MI

Lake Orion,


United States

William E. Scripps Estate

Known initially as Wildwood Farm and at its largest, 3,830 acres, this estate was the home of William E. Scripps and his wife Nina A. Downey. In 1916 Scripps established an experimental working farm which soon became famous for its stockbreeding enterprise. Architect Clarence Day was hired in 1926 to design the Tudor-style mansion, Moulton Manor, with landscape architect Bryant Fleming to design the 75-acre core. Fleming, who spent time at the American Academy in Rome, included both formal gardens and naturalistic woodlands in the design. Close to the mansion the landscape is more formal, with a sculpture-lined allée, paved terraces, and planting beds that mix unique specimen plants with naturalized natives. Walled garden rooms that open onto other gardens incorporate elaborate stone and wrought iron architectural ornament and water features that range from elaborate fountains to waterfalls. Fleming collaborated with metalworker Samuel Yellin on several iron gates. Further from the house, Fleming enhanced the diverse pre-existing environment, enlarging ponds, dredging streams, and creating berms to accentuate and frame views of the surrounding picturesque landscape. Scripps and Fleming were both interested in conservation and used innovative irrigation techniques on the site.

After Scripps death in 1952 the estate was dismantled, with the core sixty acres purchased as a retreat for Episcopalian clergy. The farm became part of the Keatington Antique Village, now known as Canturbury Village, while more than 3000 acres are now county and state parkland. The estate was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2007.

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