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

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