Cranbrook Educational Community

The Cranbrook Educational Community is an education, research, and public museum complex in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. This National Historic Landmark was founded in the early 20th century by newspaper mogul George Gough Booth. It consists of Cranbrook Schools, Cranbrook Academy of Art, Cranbrook Art Museum, Cranbrook Institute of Science, and Cranbrook House and Gardens. The founders also built Christ Church Cranbrook as a focal point in order to serve the educational complex. However, the church is a separate entity under the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan.[3] The sprawling 319-acre (1,290,000 m2) campus began as a 174-acre (700,000 m2) farm, purchased in 1904. The organization takes its name from Cranbrook, England, the birthplace of the founder's father.

Cranbrook Art Museum
Location39221 Woodward Avenue
Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
Coordinates42°34′3.4″N 83°14′36.9″W
ArchitectEliel Saarinen
Architectural style20th Century American
NRHP reference #73000954
Significant dates
Added to NRHPMarch 7, 1973[1]
Designated NHLDJune 29, 1989[2]

Cranbrook is renowned for its architecture in the Arts and Crafts and Art Deco styles. The chief architect was Eliel Saarinen while Albert Kahn was responsible for the Booth mansion. Sculptors Carl Milles and Marshall Fredericks also spent many years in residence at Cranbrook.

Schools at Cranbrook

Cranbrook Schools comprise a co-educational day and boarding college preparatory "upper" school, a middle school, and Brookside Lower School.[4]

In 1922, the Bloomfield Hills School was the first school to open on the Cranbrook grounds. Founded by George Booth, the Bloomfield Hills School was intended as the community school for local area children. The Bloomfield Hills School ultimately evolved into Brookside School. Following completion of the Bloomfield Hills School, Booth looked forward to building the Cranbrook School for Boys, an all-boys College-Preparatory school at which students from the Detroit area and abroad would come to reside. Booth wanted the Cranbrook School to possess an architecture reminiscent of the finest British Boarding Schools; he hired Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen to design the campus. Cranbrook's initial phase of building was completed in 1928.

Over the years, the Cranbrook School for Boys campus grew to include Stevens Hall, Page Hall, and Coulter Hall. While primarily functioning as only residential spaces, Page Hall featured a smoking lounge as well as a shooting range. Lerchen Gymnasium, Keppel Gymnasium, and Thompson Oval were also constructed on the campus. In the 1960s, Cranbrook School for Boys also constructed a state-of-the-art Science Building named the Gordon Science Center.

Realizing that young women would also need a place of their own to learn, Ellen Scripps Booth, Booth's wife, pressured Booth into building a school for girls. Scripps Booth supervised the project, which she named the Kingswood School Cranbrook. Unlike her husband, Scripps Booth encouraged Eliel Saarinen to come up with a unique interior design for the campus completely on his own. Instead of the several buildings that housed the Cranbrook School for Boys, the Kingswood School Cranbrook was contained within one building that included all necessary features, including dormitories, a dining hall, an auditorium, classrooms, a bowling alley, a ballroom, and lounges and common areas. The education at Kingswood School Cranbrook was initially viewed as a "finishing school", though that changed over time.

In 1986, the Cranbrook School for Boys and Kingswood School Cranbrook entered a joint agreement, renaming the new institution the Cranbrook Kingswood Upper School.

Cranbrook Academy of Art

The Cranbrook Academy of Art, one of the nation's leading graduate schools for architecture, art, and design, was founded by George Booth and Ellen Scripps Booth in 1932. In 1984, The New York Times wrote that "the effect of Cranbrook and its graduates and faculty on the physical environment of this country has been profound ... Cranbrook, surely more than any other institution, has a right to think of itself as synonymous with contemporary American design."[5]

The buildings were designed and the school first headed by Eliel Saarinen, who integrated design practices and theories from the Arts and Crafts movement through the international style. The school continues to be known for its apprenticeship method of teaching, in which a small group of students—usually only 10 to 16 per class, or 150 students in total for the ten departments—study under a single artist-in-residence for the duration of their curriculum. The graduate program is unconventional because there are no traditional courses; all learning is self-directed under the guidance and supervision of the respective artist-in-residence.[6]

Beginning in 1983, a major exhibition of works by Cranbrook's faculty and graduates, entitled "Design in America: The Cranbrook Vision 1925–1950", toured major museums in the United States and Europe.[5] The Detroit Institute of Arts and Metropolitan Museum of Art co-authored a book detailing the works in the exhibit.[7]


The school currently confers two degrees: Master of Fine Arts and Master of Architecture. The Master of Architecture degree is a post-professional degree and is not accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board. Cranbrook Art Academy currently has 11 D[8]epartments (2D Design, 3D Design, 4D Design, Architecture, Ceramics, Fiber, Metalsmithing, Painting, Photography, Print Media and Sculpture The latest department (4D Design) began taking students in the fall of 2019. It is led by Carla D[9]iana, a Cranbrook Art Academy Alum. ( Susan Ewing[10] was recently appointed interim Director and is now permanent Director[11] of the Academy, making her the first woman to hold that role in the history of the Academy (

Notable alumni and faculty

Notable alumni and faculty of the Cranbrook Academy of Art include Harry Bertoia, Richard DeVore, Charles Eames, Ray Eames, Waylande Gregory, Florence Knoll (did not graduate), Daniel Libeskind, and Eero Saarinen. In 1932, sculptor Marshall Fredericks accepted an invite by Carl Milles to join the staff of the academy and schools, teaching there until he enlisted in the armed forces in 1942. In 1987, Keith Haring served as an artist-in-residence.[12]

Cranbrook Art Museum

The Cranbrook Art Museum is a museum of contemporary art with a permanent collection, including works by Charles and Ray Eames, Harry Bertoia, Maija Grotell, Carl Milles, Robert Motherwell, Andy Warhol, and Roy Lichtenstein.[13] Completed in 1942 under the direction of architect Eliel Saarinen, the museum is housed in the same building as the Cranbrook Academy of Art.

The museum also offers tours of Saarinen House, which has undergone painstaking restoration beginning in 1977.[14] The remaining areas of the house were completed between 1988 and 1994.[15] The museum is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums.

Sculptor Carl Milles' numerous works in Metro Detroit include those at Cranbrook Educational Community, such as Mermaids & Tritons Fountain (1930), Sven Hedin on a Camel (1932), Jonah and the Whale Fountain (1932), Orpheus Fountain (1936), and Spirit of Transportation (1952), currently in Cobo Center.[16]

In 2009, the museum closed for renovation and expansion, reopening in November 2011. The project restored aspects of the original building designed by Saarinen, made necessary structural repairs, replaced windows, and upgraded mechanical systems. The renovated museum features year-round, changing exhibitions and a new Collections and Education Wing—an additional 20,000 sq ft (1,900 m2) of storage and classroom space open to visitors by guided tour. Based on an open storage plan, the new wing allows the museum's entire collection to be seen.[17]

Cranbrook Institute of Science

The Cranbrook Institute of Science includes a permanent collection of scientific artifacts, as well as displays of annual temporary exhibits. It also features a planetarium and a powerful telescope through which visitors may peer on selected nights.

The museum grounds feature a life-sized statue of a Stegosaurus.

From 1946 to 1970, the institute awarded the Mary Soper Pope Medal for notable achievement in plant sciences.[18]

Cranbrook House and Gardens

Cranbrook House and Gardens are the centerpiece of the Cranbrook Educational Community campus. The 1908 English Arts and Crafts-style house was designed by Albert Kahn for Cranbrook founders George Booth and Ellen Scripps Booth. Ten first-floor rooms can be seen on guided tours; the rooms contain tapestries, hand-carved woodworking, and English antiques in the Arts and Crafts style. The upper floors are used for the executive offices of the Cranbrook Educational Community.

Originally designed by George Booth, the 40-acre (160,000 m2) gardens include a sunken garden, formal gardens, a bog garden, a herb garden, a wildflower garden, an Oriental garden, a sculpture, fountains, specimen trees, and a lake.

Leonard Bernstein recalled composing portions of his Symphony No. 2, The Age of Anxiety, on the Cranbrook House Steinway concert grand piano while residing there in April 1946.[19][20] Bernstein had come to Detroit at the request of Zoltan Sepeshy to conduct the Detroit Symphony Orchestra at Music Hall. While visiting, he requested studio space where he could compose, and Sepeshy had the piano moved from Cranbrook House into St. Dunstan's Playhouse.[21]

The house and gardens are open to the public from May through October.

St. Dunstan's Playhouse

St. Dunstan's Playhouse, while not formally a part of the Cranbrook Educational Community, is located on the Cranbrook grounds near the Cranbrook House. The Playhouse, a 206-seat theater, houses the St. Dunstan's Theatre Guild of Cranbrook. The guild was founded in 1932 by Henry Scripps Booth, the son of Cranbrook's founders George and Ellen Booth.

In the summer months, the St. Dunstan's Theatre Guild performs in the outdoor Greek Theatre adjacent to the Cranbrook House. The theater was restored in 1990-91.[15]

Historic landmark

Fourteen buildings making up the Cranbrook complex were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973[1] and were further designated a National Historic Landmark in 1989,[2] cited as being "one of the most important groups of educational and architectural structures in America".[22]

The contributing buildings are:[22]

  1. Brookside School Cranbrook
  2. Buildings & Grounds Offices
  3. Christ Church, Cranbrook
  4. Cranbrook Academy of Art
  5. Cranbrook Foundation Office
  6. Cranbrook House & Gardens
  7. Cranbrook Institute of Science
  8. Cranbrook School
  9. Cranbrook School Auditorium
  10. Edison House
  11. Faculty Housing
  12. Greek Theater at St. Dunstan's
  13. Kingswood School Cranbrook
  14. Visitors Entrance

See also


  1. "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. April 15, 2008.
  2. "Cranbrook". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Archived from the original on 2014-07-26. Retrieved 2008-06-27.
  3. Coir, Mark (2005). "Cranbrook: A brief history" (PDF). Cranbrook Community. Retrieved 2019-03-22.
  4. Newton-Matza, Mitchell (6 September 2016). Historic Sites and Landmarks that Shaped America: From Acoma Pueblo to Ground Zero [2 volumes]: From Acoma Pueblo to Ground Zero. ABC-CLIO. p. 128. ISBN 978-1-61069-750-7.
  5. Goldberger, Paul (8 April 1984). "The Cranbrook Vision". The New York Times Magazine. Retrieved 2009-10-10.
  6. Palacio, Bryony Gomez; Vit, Armin (December 1, 2011). Graphic Design, Referenced: A Visual Guide to the Language, Applications, and History of Graphic Design. Rockport Publishers. p. 130. ISBN 978-1-59253-742-6.
  7. Clark, Robert J; Andrea P. A. Belloli (March 1984). Design in America: The Cranbrook Vision, 1925–1950. New York: Harry N Abrams. ISBN 978-0-8109-0801-7.
  8. "Cranbrook Art Departments".
  9. "Carla Diana Launches 4D Design at Cranbrook".
  10. Dubeauclard, Antoine. "Cranbrook Art Leadership".
  11. "Cranbrook Academy of Art Names Susan Ewing as new director".
  12. "Keith Haring - Biography". Renoir Fine Art Inc. Retrieved 2013-08-01.
  13. "Cranbrook Art Museum". Cranbrook Community. Archived from the original on 2011-02-24. Retrieved 2011-04-07.
  14. Wittkopp, Gregory; Balmori, Diana (March 1995). Saarinen House and Garden: A Total Work of Art. Harry Abrams. pp. 8–9. ISBN 978-0-8109-4462-6. Retrieved 2019-03-22.
  15. "Building Chronology 1976-2000". Cranbrook Community. Archived from the original on 2012-04-14. Retrieved 2011-11-09.
  16. Baluch, Vivian M. (6 September 1999). "Michigan History: Carl Milles, Cranbrook's favorite sculptor". The Detroit News. Retrieved 2007-11-23.
  17. "At the Birthplace of Modernism, A Rebirth" (Press release). Cranbrook Community. 27 July 2011. Archived from the original on 28 November 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-10.
  18. "Cranbrook Institute of Science Director's Papers". Cranbrook Community. Retrieved Dec. 27, 2016.
  19. Your Gateway to Cranbrook, Cranbook Community. Accessed March 22, 2019.
  20. Presenter: Richard Guy Wilson (1997). "Newspaper Moguls, Pittock Mansion, Cranbrook House & Gardens, The American Swedish Institute". America's Castles. A&E.
  21. Luzenski, James (July 2006). "St. Dunstan's Guild Records (Summary)" (PDF). Cranbrook Archives. p. 4. Retrieved 2013-08-01.
  22. Pitts, Carolyn (February 9, 1989). "National Register of Historic Places Registration Form: Cranbrook". National Park Service. Retrieved January 24, 2016. Accompanying nine photos from 1959 and 1980.

Further reading

  • A&E with Richard Guy Wilson, Ph.D.,(2000). America's Castles: Newspaper Moguls, Pittock Mansion, Cranbrook House & Gardens, The American Swedish Institute. A&E Television Network.
  • Hill, Eric J. and John Gallagher (2002). AIA Detroit: The American Institute of Architects Guide to Detroit Architecture. Wayne State University Press. ISBN 0-8143-3120-3.
  • Merkel, Jayne (2005). Eero Saarinen. London: Phaidon Press. ISBN 0-7148-4277-X.
  • Pelkonen, Eeva-Liisa (2006). Eero Saarinen. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-11282-3.
  • Roman, Antonio (2003). Eero Saarinen. New York: Princeton Architectural Press. ISBN 1-56898-340-9.
  • Saarinen, Aline B. (ed) (1968). Eero Saarinen on His Work. New Haven: Yale University Press.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  • Serraino, Pierluigi (2006). Saarinen, 1910–1961: a Structural Expressionist. Köln: Taschen. ISBN 3-8228-3645-1.
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