Lillian Sefton Dodge Relatives Visit Mill Neck Manor
Relatives of the late cosmetic heiress Lillian Sefton Thomas Dodge—the former owner of what is now known as our beloved Mill Neck Manor—visited the campus to tour and reminisce about the majestic Tudor revival mansion.
Terry Meade, Lillian’s great-great nephew, along with a few family members, walked every inch of the 34-room estate, offering in-depth family history and a personal recount of stories. They were awestruck by the beautiful condition of the mansion, and even more so when they viewed the “Lillian Room”—an entire room dedicated to Lillian, filled with artifacts from her many professional and personal achievements. One family member contributed to the room by donating a perfume bottle that can be traced back to Lillian’s cosmetic company, the aerating scent still distinctly intact.
Lillian, who paved her way in the cosmetic industry as President of Harriet Hubbard Ayer, soon became the highest paid female executive in America during the 1930s. In 1947, 68-year old Lillian sold Harriet Hubbard Ayer to the Lever Brothers for $5,500,000, a low price in the eyes of analysts. Soon after, she also sold the estate to Lutheran Friends of the Deaf, the founding member of the Mill Neck Family of Organizations, using the mansion as an educational school for Deaf children.
During the visit, Terry sifted through dozens of old photographs and one-of-a-kind valuables (that he then donated to the Mill Neck Archive Committee) and read aloud a letter that was penned by Lillian herself, completely captivating all who were in attendance. As Terry pleasantly played the 25-year-old piano in the great room toward the end of the visit, the presence of Lillian Sefton Dodge was definitely felt.
Since the visit, Terry and his partner Roy have donated countless antiques and collectibles to Mill Neck.