Celebrating and Preserving Cranbrook’s History: My Senior May Experience

My three weeks at the Center for Collections and Research have been an exhaustive tour of all the activities and responsibilities of maintaining Cranbrook’s history. From getting ready for the annual House Party, scanning historical documents, and cleaning the Smith House in preparation for summer, being a member of this community requires one to wear many hats to preserve its history.

Scrubbing the Frank Lloyd Wright Smith House in Bloomfield Township. Photo by Leslie Mio.

During my first week with the Center, I entered into the great anticipation of the annual House Party fundraiser. With this year’s theme involving Cranbrook’s influences from England, many of my projects involved making Cranbrook House a better fit for this theme. As favors for the guests, I assembled nearly 300 pastry boxes to fill with scones and other iconic English treats like tea and marmalade.

My collection of pastry boxes from my week at Cranbrook House. Photo by Grace Quinn.

Following the party, I helped scan many folders of documents from the Archives on George G. Booth and his involvement with the Detroit Arts and Crafts Society and with renowned architect Albert Kahn. Although I knew very little about the Arts and Crafts movements, I came to a much stronger understanding of how the Booths focused much of their wealth and influence on buying and displaying handcrafted goods.

These were not just shows of wealth but were a way of honoring the artisans who built this campus and saying, without words, that a quality place like this will withstand much more than inhuman, mass-produced art and furniture. Even though this notion is not new, rising technological advances seem to only make cheapness and speed priorities in design, rather than beauty or emotional value. The art of patience and supporting artists is a refreshing notion compared to the on-demand nature of online shopping and rampant consumerism.

While scanning documents from the George G. Booth Papers was my main Archives project, I also got to work with architectural drawings of Glen Paulsen from the 1950s. Photo by Deborah Rice.

When reflecting on what I had learned during this internship, I realized that before this I had never given much thought to how this campus came to fruition. I knew that some famous architects built it, but as I scanned archival documents and helped maintain Cranbrook’s houses, I can now fully realize the cultural influence Cranbrook has had in Detroit’s history.

Cranbrook’s inspiration stretches across borders and countries; it has a prominent space in contemporary architecture and in the earlier Arts and Crafts Movement. Cranbrook’s exercises in art and design are on display to inspire others to emphasize detail, quality, and creative talent in designing schools and creating diverse communities.

—Grace Quinn, Cranbrook Kingswood Upper School 2023

Editor’s Note: The Senior May Project is a school-sponsored activity that encourages Cranbrook Kingswood Upper School seniors to acquire work experience in a field they are considering as a college major, a potential profession, and/or as a personal interest.

Grace’s efforts in making A House Party at Two Cranbrooks a success, her can-do attitude, and her flexibility in tackling projects large and small were much appreciated by the Center staff. We wish her luck as she heads to the Rochester Institute of Technology’s College of Art and Design in the fall!

A Century Ago: Travel to France with Messrs. Booth and Swanson

May 30, 2023, marks one hundred years since Henry S. Booth and J. Robert F. Swanson returned home from ten months of travel in Europe. Midway through their architecture studies at the University of Michigan, the friends and classmates set off on August 1, 1922 for a “Grand Tour” through Norway, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Tunisia, Italy, France, and England to study and sketch European architecture.

In today’s post, I want to share moments from their journey through France, which is so beautifully documented by Henry’s letters and photographs, and by both of their sketches.

Eglise St. Pierre de Coutances, April 29, 1923, J. Robert F. Swanson. Courtesy of Cranbrook Art Museum.

Arriving in France in March 1923, Harry and Bob journeyed through Nice to Cannes, then through Lyon to the city of Bourges. Henry describes the scenery en route:

…mountains on the right and the “Cote d’Azure” on the other, flowers overhanging balustraded walls, old olives and tall but easily climbed palms, rocks and breaking waves, and then always the bluest of skies and sea to match, and dazzling sunlight–quite warm and ‘drowsy’.

At Bourges, they headed for the Cathedral, which they visited several times: at night by the light of gas lamps; in the afternoon sunlight; at dusk with a handful of worshippers on their knees; and then later that evening filled with the faithful.

Cathédrale St. Etiénne de Bourges, March 1923. Henry Scripps Booth, photographer. Courtesy of Cranbrook Archives.

It was an inspiring sight—the nave packed, and both the inner and outer aisles (for there are two) on the north side filled also, and not a few on the other side of the church. The light was dim all during the sermon, and when that was over, a quantity of candles were lighted almost instantaneously about the “Host,” and all the electric candles down the nave came on, so that suddenly this great cathedral was changed from a imaginative forrest in the night, to a great cathedral church ablaze with the lights associated with a feast.

But I thought more of other things than of the architecture that night. The preacher talked too fast for me to understand his French, but I knew what he should have been saying even if he wasn’t…, I looked at the great number of long black vails [sic] everywhere, noticed the lack of men of middle age, and saw many young fellows who are now “heads” of their father’s family standing by their veiled mother’s side.”

They stopped in Tours before taking in the Chateaux of the Loire: from Loche to Langais, Ussé, Villandry and Azey.

Continue reading

Step-back with a Peacock

From the moment I entered Saarinen House twenty-seven years ago to give my first public tour, to my upcoming presentation for the Kingswood Middle School for Girls Explore Cranbrook students, I remain . . . simply enthralled. No more so than by the vibrant Peacock Andirons gracing the living room hearth.

Eliel Saarinen’s cast bronze Peacock Andirons, 1928-29. Each 21-1/4” W x 22-3/8” H x 27-1/4” D. Collection of Cranbrook Art Museum, CAM1985.2 a-b. Robert Hensleigh, photographer.

Designed by Finnish-American architect Eliel Saarinen and produced by Sterling Bronze Company, New York between 1928 and 1929, these cast bronze andirons were paid for by the Cranbrook Foundation and entered in the 1928-1930 Arts & Crafts Building ledger on pages 40-41 (third line from the bottom)—Date: 1-7-30; No.: 515; Name: Sterling Bronze Co; Remarks: 1 pair/ Andirons for Saarinen Res[idence]; Amount: $152.50 (the equivalent of $2,631.50 in 2023).

Arts & Crafts Building ledger, 1928-30. Laura MacNewman, photographer, 2023. Cranbrook Archives.

The pair of birds are fabulous. Ready and alert, they face each other, ankles bent, balanced upon splayed toes.

Continue reading

Spring Cleaning 2023

Each year, the Center staff does spring cleaning around the Cranbrook Community’s campus.

To kick off our spring cleaning this year, in collaboration with Meghan Morrow from Cranbrook Art Museum, Brookside’s Vlasic Early Childhood Center Pre K, JK, and multi-age classes helped us “awaken” the outdoor sculptures, covered for the winter, with a good-morning song. They helped remove the covers, check for any new cracks, and wipe and polish the sculptures.

Friends from the ECC help polish Marshall M. Fredericks’ The Thinker . . .
. . . and the Chinese Lion at Cranbrook Art Museum. Both images are courtesy Cranbrook Schools.

We then needed to get the fountains and sculptures ready for our House Party fundraiser on May 20 (sorry, already sold out). Utilizing Graffiti Solutions’ “Elephant Snot,” we worked with Cranbrook House and Gardens Auxiliary volunteers to clean the Fountain on West Terrace and Mario Korbel’s Harmony.

Cranbrook House and Gardens Auxiliary volunteers Helen Maiman, Bruce Kasl, Cheryl Becker, and Joyce Harding assist me in cleaning the Fountain on West Terrace at Cranbrook House. Auxiliary volunteer Nancy Kulish, photographer.
Joyce and I giving Harmony her spring mani-pedi. Nina Blomfield, photographer.
Nina gives Harmony a quick rinse. Leslie Mio, photographer.

Below are the results. This was just one day after the cleaning, and, typically, the sculptures look better and better as the weeks go on.

Look for an upcoming post about our ECC friends working with the Elephant Snot to clean more stonework in the garden!

The spring also means a new season of work in the Japanese Garden. Pulling vines, before the poison ivy blooms, was a fun, end-of-the-day task for our volunteers this week.

Volunteers Lindsay Shimon and Melinda Krajniak assist Master Gardener Emily Fronckowiak with invasive vines around the Japanese Garden. Leslie Mio, photographer.

Interested in becoming a Cranbrook Japanese Garden Volunteer Gardener? We would love to hear from you!

Not to be outdone, Saarinen House wanted to be part of spring cleaning as well. On location in the Art Museum vault for a photoshoot this past winter, the Saarinen House Studio rug was carried back to the house and reinstalled. As Greg Wittkopp, Center Director, said, “The room does look less Gesamtkunstwerk-ish without it.”

“I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. [Haefner].”
The Saarinen House Studio rug gets the star treatment from photographer James Haefner as Center volunteer Jessica Majeski looks on. Kevin Adkisson, photographer.
Center staff and volunteers move the Studio rug back to Saarinen House. Leslie Mio, photographer.
James Haefner, photographer.

The best part about our spring cleaning is showing off the results. Come see Harmony in the Cranbrook House gardens on a warm day.

The Center’s 2023 Tour season is also beginning. In addition to our Saarinen House and Smith House tours, new tours have been added:

Japanese Garden Tours – Center staff-guided tours of the Japanese Garden have been added to the public tour calendar on one Sunday a month at 1:30pm, May through October.

Three Visions of Home tours – Join Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research as we take you inside three remarkable homes from across the twentieth century. There’s no tour quite like it, with a look into the distinct visions for American life from three internationally significant architects: Albert Kahn, Eliel Saarinen, and Frank Lloyd Wright. Your expert guide will take you through the architecture and innovations of each home, while also sharing the stories of the families who built and lived in these special places.

We hope to see you on campus this season!

Leslie Mio, Associate Registrar, Cranbrook Center for Collections and Resarch

Finding Olmsted at Cranbrook

George G. Booth didn’t just commission renowned architects in building Cranbrook, he also engaged well-respected landscape designers. Architecture and nature were equally considered. Booth’s own 1904 topographical map demonstrates his grandiose vision for reshaping what was then farmland. It is not surprising, therefore, that Cranbrook has a connection to the American “father of landscape architecture,” Frederick Law Olmsted.

Leading up to and following the Center’s most recent Bauder lectureExperiencing Olmsted: The Enduring Legacy of Frederick Law Olmsted’s North American Landscapes, Olmsted-related materials in the Archives were revisited and new associations were made.

It was Frederick Law Olmsted’s successor firm, the Olmsted Brothers, led by his sons, that worked on the landscape of Christ Church Cranbrook from 1926-1928. Simultaneous to the construction of the church by the architecture firm Bertram G. Goodhue Associates, the Olmsteds created plans for the surrounding land between Lone Pine, Cranbrook, and Church Roads.

Artistic rendering of Christ Church Cranbrook Rectory, 1924. Bertram G. Goodhue Associates. Courtesy of Cranbrook Archives.

A few pieces of correspondence in the George Gough Booth Papers shed light on the close relationship between Booth, the chief architect Oscar H. Murray, and the Olmsted Brothers. But there are many more letters from Job 7754 (aka Christ Church Cranbrook)  in the Frederick Law Olmsted Papers and Olmsted Associates Records held by the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., all of which can be read online.

Letter from Oscar H. Murray to George G. Booth relating a response from Olmsted Brothers, December 7, 1927. Courtesy of Cranbrook Archives.

The Archives also holds two reproductions of Olmsted Brothers plans: the second and the tenth drawing revisions submitted in 1927 and 1928, respectively. In these, plants are clearly numbered, but the Archives does not hold the accompanying keys. At the suggestion of Bauder lecturer, Charles Birnbaum, President, CEO, and Founder of The Cultural Landscape Foundation in Washington, D.C., I reached out to the Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site in Brookline, Massachusetts. They graciously shared scanned copies of both planting plans, for our reference.

Christ Church Cranbrook Planting Plan, March 11, 1927, revised October 1927. Blueprint for Revised Plan Number 2. Olmsted Brothers. Courtesy of Cranbrook Archives.

We now know, for example, that the large evergreens that George Booth mentions in a letter to Oscar Murray likely refer to the Austrian Pine (10 and 82), Douglas Fir (83), and White Pine (90) enumerated in a November 4, 1927 plant list for Plan No. 2. And, we can see where on the blueprint those trees were proposed to be planted!

Excerpt from page two of George Booth’s letter to Oscar Murray, November 23, 1927. Courtesy of Cranbrook Archives.

Many more discoveries are sure to come, now that we have a more complete picture of the original landscape design for Christ Church Cranbrook. I know that next time I drive or walk by the church, I will be taking a closer look at the vegetation.

Deborah Rice, Head Archivist, Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research

Editor’s note: To view the five drawings in the Olmsted Archives at Brookline, including originals of  the Cranbrook copies, and eight scrapbook pages that include Goodhue Associates renderings, visit their Flickr albums.

From Birdhouses to Wildflowers: Cranbrook Institute of Science Bulletins

We recently reorganized materials in the Archives Reading Room to provide easier access to Cranbrook Publications and encourage greater use of these informative resources. The first series available for ready reference are the Cranbrook Institute of Science (CIS) Bulletins, which are arranged in the full series of 64 issues. The Bulletins are periodically published works of original scientific research, which was part of the mission of the early Institute.

Newly shelved Cranbrook Institute of Science Bulletins. Photograpy by Laura MacNewman.

Initially established in 1930, the Institute’s stated purpose was, “to add to and strengthen the educational and cultural facilities within the State of Michigan.” It was established as a separate Cranbrook institution on February 10, 1932. An aim set for the staff was not only to supplement the facilities of the several Cranbrook Schools, but to engage in original research and publication, “to add to the sum total of human knowledge.” The CIS originally comprised nine divisions of scientific fields and administration: Astronomy, Geology, Botany, Entomology, Aquatic Biology, Mammology, Anthropology, Education, and Preparation, and the Bulletins reflect these fields of inquiry.

The Bulletins range in size, from pamphlets to hard cover books, and are published ad hoc according to the completion of research projects. The incredible diversity and particularity of topics make it exceedingly difficult to select which to highlight for your interest. Thus, I have tried to pick across the divisions of research to deliver to you an array of examples, not only works of scientific distinction but of artistic beauty and thoughtfulness in their presentation.

This series of periodicals, published between 1931 and 1999, focus predominantly on Michigan with some studies further afield. They are of unequivocal research value to students and scientists with an interest in the natural world, including its flora and fauna, lakes and fish, archaeological history, and geological development, as well as human geography and cultural history.

The CIS Bulletins are available for research in our public Reading Room. If you are curious to learn more and to explore their contributions to scientific knowledge, come and see! All are welcome to explore and study our collections by appointment Monday to Friday, 9am to 4 pm.

Laura MacNewman, Associate Archivist, Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research

Florals for Spring? A Groundbreaking Garden Gala at Cranbrook House

As the Center team prepares for our upcoming fundraiser on May 20, 2023, A House Party at Two Cranbrooks, we have been peeking into closets and cabinets in search of what the Booth family might have worn to a garden gala at Cranbrook House, in the early decades of the Cranbrook estate, about 1908 to 1918.

Pierre Brissaud, summer dresses by Jeanne Lanvin, July 1914. Costume Institute Fashion Plate Collection, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The early years of Cranbrook House, from dedication of the main building in 1908 through the addition of the Library in 1918 and Oak Room in 1919, spanned major changes in society. Fashion changed significantly during this period, moving from the tightly corseted looks of the Edwardian era to the loose, drop-waisted garments that were popular by the time of Florence Booth’s debut party at Cranbrook in 1922.

Draped green chiffon and gold lamé dress, circa 1920. Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research.
Painted cartouche commemorating Florence Booth’s 1922 debut. Photograph by Tryst Mallett. Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research.

George Booth and his family were deeply inspired by the British Arts and Crafts movement and collected textiles and furnishings from important figures like designer and expert embroiderer May Morris.

Arts and Crafts fashions drew on the same visual language, with rich colors and textures embellished with flowers, foliage, and patterns drawn from the natural world. The so-called Aesthetic Dress of the late nineteenth century combined artistic appeal with efforts to reform social attitudes about clothing. The flowing silhouettes of tea gowns were a spectacle for the display of luxurious silks, but also allowed for a greater range of movement without the need for restrictive undergarments.

May Morris, circa 1909. Bain Collection, Library of Congress.
May Morris, Bed-Hangings, circa 1917. Cranbrook Art Museum, Gift of George Gough Booth and Ellen Scripps Booth.

Aesthetic Dress may have inspired the costuming for theatrical events staged by members of the Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts. Images of the 1910 Masque of Arcadia show soft, flowing gowns and floral crowns, while costumes for the 1916 Cranbrook Masque were designed by Helen Plumb and Katherine and Alexandrine McEwen, with fine fabrics appropriate to the newly opened Greek Theater.

Continue reading

Cranbrook Institute of Science Films Digitized

Cranbrook Archives is pleased to announce the preservation and digitization of eight Institute of Science early education films. Made possible through generous funding by the National Film Preservation Foundation (NFPF), these silent films were sent to a professional film lab where they were inspected and expertly cleaned, repaired, copied onto archival safe film stock, and scanned. Previously inaccessible to users due to their fragility, a combined ninety-four minutes (2,450 feet) of footage can now be viewed digitally.

Opening credits from Emergence of the Periodical Cicada at Cranbrook, 1936. Courtesy of Cranbrook Archives.

In a post exactly one year ago, I first mentioned the Institute’s early forays into the burgeoning educational film market of the 1930s. Using 16mm film technology (the amateur version of Hollywood motion picture film), Institute staff documented scientific field research, captured the work of exhibition preparators, and recorded educational programs. Many of these films were shown regularly to museum patrons and were often accompanied by lectures.

With the exception of one 1955 film, the NFPF grant films were all created between 1935 and 1938. Six of the films collectively display a range of astronomical, botanical, zoological, ornithological, and marine ecological research efforts. In addition to Emergence of the Periodical Cicada at Cranbrook, finished titles include Solar Prominences, featuring telescopic footage of solar flares, and Birds in Summer, which tells the story of newly born birds. Untitled films show the behavior of adult birds, deer, and coral reef life.

Birds in Summer, 1935. An Institute scientist can be seen banding a young blue heron. Courtesy of Cranbrook Archives.

While these snapshots in time may no longer be useful as originally intended – to educate the public on their present natural world – they do have the potential to inform current and future research on conservation or climate change. For example, a film on coral reef life, with its unique early underwater footage, offers the opportunity for comparing current conditions with those documented by Institute scientists three generations ago.

Untitled film with underwater footage of a coral reef, circa 1955. Courtesy of Cranbrook Archives.

The remaining two films demonstrate curatorial and membership activities. In one, staff are seen in the Institute library; painting scenes for exhibit backdrops and gathering botanical specimens in a forested setting; and making plaster molds of specimens in an Institute workroom. In another, Institute Junior Members and staff take a field trip to a local quarry to collect rocks and minerals.

Untitled film showing exhibition preparator, Dudley Blakely, painting a display case backdrop, 1936. Courtesy of Cranbrook Archives.

The Institute of Science film project marks the beginning of a concerted effort to digitize the Archives’ audiovisual collections. Due to their age, complex chemical/mechanical makeup, and obsolescent playback equipment (who still owns a VCR?), audio and video recordings capturing the sights and sounds of Cranbrook’s past are some of our most at-risk materials. I hope to share more stories of success in the near future!

Deborah Rice, Head Archivist, Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research

The Gothic Grotesque: Have Confidence, Enter the Sanctuary

When I was asked to gather archival materials related to Cranbrook in Kent, England, a short series of correspondence in the Henry Scripps and Carolyn Farr Booth Papers particularly caught my notice. Written to Henry Scripps Booth, the letters discuss a stone from St. Dunstan’s Church in Cranbrook, Kent, and its overseas delivery to Christ Church Cranbrook. I became quite curious about it.

Carved coign from St. Dunstan’s Church, Cranbrook, Kent, at Christ Church Cranbrook. Laura MacNewman, photographer. Courtesy of Cranbrook Archives.

One handwritten letter in the correspondence was rather difficult to decipher, but once I got the pattern of it, it helped me begin to comprehend the story.

In July 1930, St. Dunstan’s Vicar, Rev. Swingler, acknowledged a request from Booth for a fragment of the church which could be placed in the chapel of the same name at Christ Church Cranbrook.

It was July 1931 before Rev. Swingler wrote again to inform Booth that the stone was ready for dispatch. He explained that the Church Council had welcomed the idea and directed the Fabric Committee to select a stone, which they had, but that the Secretary had forgotten to inform Booth until then, a year later, and it was already on its way!

The forgetfulness of the Secretary and finding appropriate shipping arrangements for such an unusual commodity had caused quite a delay, to which Rev. Swingler writes,

“I am sorry that the matter has not been dealt with more speedily but old Cranbrook has hardly yet learned modern methods of business, as perhaps you know.”

St. Dunstan’s Church, Cranbrook, Kent. Kevin Adkisson, photographer. Courtesy of the Center for Collections and Research.

He goes on to describe the provenance of the stone, at least as far as he could tell. A fifteenth century carved coign (an architectural term for a “projected corner”), it once formed part of the string course (a projected band of stone) which runs at the base of the battlements of the church nave. The course includes a series of grotesque heads, some of which were pierced for waterspouts. A grotesque, common in medieval church architecture, is a decoratively carved stone used to ward off evil spirits and to signify the sanctuary and safety of the church. On inspecting an historic photograph of the church, I could identify similar stones at the top of the drainpipes and around the tower battlements.

St. Dunstan’s Church, Cranbrook, Kent, July 1901, with grotesques in situ. Courtesy of Cranbrook Archives.

Rev. Swingler had first seen it laying in the churchyard and surmised that it had not been replaced during past repairs. He doesn’t mention why they selected that particular stone, but one could conjecture that it was because it was no longer part of the fabric of the church building and hence was available to be gifted to Christ Church. He notes that it is probably of Hartley stone, which was quarried in the Parish.

Henry Scripps Booth contributed great efforts to building relationships between the old and new Cranbrooks by establishing and maintaining connections between the two churches. The grotesque that arrived at Christ Church more than 90 years ago is an artifact that tells just one story of his efforts. From St. Dunstan’s of old Cranbrook, known as the “Cathedral of the Weald,” to St. Dunstan’s of Christ Church Cranbrook, the carved coign continues to herald sanctuary and give confidence to those who enter.

Laura MacNewman
Associate Archivist, Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research

Editor’s Note:
To learn more about Cranbrook in Kent and its part in the history of Cranbrook, Bloomfield Hills, register for Kevin Adkisson’s upcoming lecture, Uncovering Cranbrook: Two Pilgrimages to Kentish Cranbrook and join us for this year’s fundraiser: A House Party at Two Cranbrooks.

Ruth Adler Schnee’s Interior Design Legacy

Cranbrook Archives was saddened at the passing of design icon Ruth Adler Schnee last month. As proud custodians of the Edward and Ruth Adler Schnee Papers we know that her legacy lives on in the many documents, photographs, drawings, and textile samples available to researchers. With a long and varied career in textile design and interior design, there are a plethora of materials to inform and admire, adding nuance and context to her catalog of accomplishments seen in current textile production, museum collections worldwide, and public, commercial, and residential buildings throughout the Detroit area.

Ruth and Edward Schnee, circa 1990. Courtesy of Cranbrook Archives.

Her personal and professional story is inspiring in so many ways, not the least of which were the interior design projects completed for Schnee & Schnee Consultants, a company that Ruth owned with her husband Edward Schnee from 1977-1985. She designed, and he ran the business, much like their other design consulting partnerships, the earlier Adler-Schnee Associates, and the later Schnee and Schnee Inc.

One of their major commissions, and particularly well-documented in their papers, was the Jewish Community Center’s Edward and Freda Fleischman Residence/Blumberg Plaza in West Bloomfield, a three-year project spanning 1982-1985. One does not automatically think of innovative design when considering assisted living facilities, so it is particularly a delight to view Ruth’s colorful palette at work in her project sketches and product choices, both of which evoke her affinity for vibrant textiles.

The Schnees’ thoughtful work in addressing the needs of the residents is evident in the detailed project records and numerous oversized room design presentation boards. In comments about the project Ruth stated, “every design decision became an important element in providing a warm and protective environment.” The residence quickly became a model for similar projects across the country as the modern idea of assisted living facilities, versus the institutional nursing home model, grew in popularity.

Immediately following their success with the Fleischman Residence, Schnee & Schnee consulted on a similar project just north of Cranbrook Educational Community, St. Elizabeth Briarbank. Collaborating with the architectural firm John Stevens Associates Inc. (Ruth was their Director of Interior Design from 1977-1979), Ruth designed the interiors for an addition to the Catholic assisted living community for women, drawing on her research and application at the Fleischman Residence. From the red and orange beauty parlor, featuring the same John Yellen chairs, to the softer wall murals in common rooms, to the light-hearted wallpaper in the communal kitchen, Ruth’s touch is irrefutable.

The Fleischman and Briarbank projects are just two of the eight senior residential complexes (four with architect John Stevens) that Ruth “transformed” with her sensitivity and playfulness, demonstrating yet another intriguing facet of Ruth Adler Schnee’s career.

Deborah Rice, Head Archivist, Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research

Editor’s Note: Find out more about Ruth’s early design pursuits and her retail business venture with husband Eddie in previous Cranbrook Kitchen Sink posts. Browse additional images from the Edward and Ruth Adler Schnee Papers here.

Create a website or blog at WordPress.com

%d bloggers like this: