Photo Friday: Good Things Come To Those Who Wait

In October 2014, archivist Cheri Gay, wrote a blog on the pet cemetery at Thornlea Studio and the love the Booth family had for their animals.

In the blog, Cheri states, “When Henry was growing up, the Booth family had beagles, Prince and Mike, and a great dane, Ginger. Mike, according to Henry, ‘… loved having a fuss made over him, one time going so far as being pushed around in a doll carriage while wearing a canvas hat.’ Oh to have a photograph of that!”

On this Photo Friday, the Cranbrook Kitchen Sink is proud to present:

Mike the beagle, being pushed in a doll stroller... wearing a canvas hat!

Mike the beagle, being pushed around in a doll carriage… while wearing a canvas hat!

Leslie S. Mio, Assistant Registrar

A Fond Farewell

It’s been a little over five years since I accepted a position as archivist at Cranbrook Archives. I had toured the Archives some years before, when I first became photo archivist in the Burton Historical Collection of the Detroit Public Library. Though familiar with Cranbrook from growing up in the area, I thought, boy, this would be a cool place to work.

My wishful thinking turned into reality when, after retiring from Detroit Public Library and working as a volunteer in Cranbrook Archives, a position opened up. Lucky me! And my first assignment was to process the papers of Edward and Ruth Adler Schnee. I had shopped in their iconic store in Harmonie Park and was delighted to meet Ruth and hear all about her fascinating life, which gave me a framework for processing her papers.


Ruth Adler Schnee in a fun moment.

Meeting Ruth was just the beginning of a deep plunge into subjects of which I was only marginally aware: the George Gough Booth family who founded Cranbrook; the Saarinens who designed its campus, many of its buildings and furnishings; artists such as Harry Bertoia, Marianne Strengell, Katherine McEwen, Charles & Ray Eames, Maija Grotell, Harry Weese. My head was spinning trying to keep up!

Gradually I became familiar with the history of Cranbrook as documented by the rich material in the Cranbrook Archives. The manuscript collection (institutional and individual), the photograph collection, the architectural drawings, and the myriad other informational sources, not to mention my coworkers, other Cranbrook staff, and Archives’ volunteers, all helped fill in the blanks. Most of all, head archivist Leslie S. Edwards, guided me through the intricacies of building names and campus personalities, filling me in on strange anomalies such as Chanticleer Cottage, or some of the unheralded people like the Vettraino family or John Buckberrough who, in small but important ways, helped make Cranbrook what it is today.


A favorite view when eating outside in the summer!

If you haven’t guessed by now, I’m moving on to other adventures; today is my last day. I learned so much here, thanks to everyone I worked with. And it turns out I was right. Cranbrook is a cool place to work!

– Cheri Gay, Archivist


The Fascinating Notebooks of John Buckberrough

John H. Buckberrough (1874-1955), an immigrant from Ontario, Canada, was a civil engineer for the Cranbrook Foundation from 1927 until he retired in 1955. As described by Henry Scripps Booth:

Buckberrough, a slight man of medium height, started working for Swanson and Booth as that firm’s sole employee two years before Cranbrook officially employed him. That was in the firm’s tiny architectural office located in the below-road-level room of the Ram House section of Brookside’s buildings. … He became one of the first employees of what was known as the Cranbrook Architectural Office in January 1927. … Over the years he was chief surveyor, planned most of the pump rooms, transformer vaults and underground systems, kept copious notes and made detailed plans regarding changes which not only proved increasingly valuable in solving complicated problems but put to shame those who were later supposed to fill his shoes.

In addition to numerous architectural drawings that bear his signature, Buckberrough’s legacy in the Cranbrook Archives is 10 calfskin engineers’ field books, chock full of drawings and notations, covering 1926-1955.

Courtesy Cranbrook Archives

Courtesy Cranbrook Archives

Descriptions and diagrams of Cranbrook property, heating and plumbing data for Cranbrook buildings, data on Cranbrook roads and lakes, drawings of pump houses, sidewalks, lighting layouts and water lines can be found in the notebooks. Here are some examples:

Design of a bridge.

Bridge at Kingswood Lake, 1938.

Column design for fireplace in Cranbrook House living room.

Column design for fireplace in Cranbrook House living room.

The Archives’ staff often finds valuable information in the notebooks, which is used for campus restoration and renovation projects including the recent restoration of Cranbrook School Quad. Little did Buckberrough know how valuable his meticulous note-taking would prove to be. Though a search for information requires a careful page-by-page hunt, it’s a pleasant change from the impersonality of electronic resources.

Cheri Y. Gay, Archivist

Historical Menus Reveal Cultural Past

The Henry Scripps Booth Collection of Menus is a fascinating glimpse into another era and the travel exploits of the leisure class. The Cranbrook Archives has digitized a portion of the collection, mainly menu covers, that can be viewed in our digital database. Menus are wonderful cultural documents that reveal economic, dietary, artistic, sometimes geographic and even literary information about an era.

Many of the menu covers have artistic renderings, some of them signed. The 1952 menu for the farewell dinner on the Queen Elizabeth has a reproduction of a painting of the ship, with the name “C.F. Hopkinson” visible in the lower right corner.

Farewell Dinner Menu for R.M.S. Queen Elizabeth Courtesy Cranbrook Archives

Farewell Dinner Menu for R.M.S. Queen Elizabeth.
Courtesy Henry Scripps Booth Menu Collection, Cranbrook Archives

Doing a Google search, I found Hopkinson’s name in a blog post, written by the archivist in charge of the Cunard Archives (imagine what a fascinating archive that must be) in the Special Collections & Archives at the University of Liverpool Library. The blog cited C.F. Hopkinson in a discussion about land-based Cunard employees who served during World War I. The Cunard Line Staff Magazine was the source for this information, and the blog emphasized the importance of staff magazines in an archival collection, as company records rarely contain information about individual employees. The little information they presented on C.F. Hopkinson confirmed that he was an artist, even though employed as an accountant by Cunard. Moreover, the blog post elicited a response and additional information from C.F. Hopkinson’s daughter.

Charles Francis Hopkinson completeing bust of Samuel Cunard Courtesy Cunard Archiv, Special Collections and Archives at the University of Liverpool

Charles Francis Hopkinson working on bust of Samuel Cunard.
Courtesy Cunard Archive, Special Collections and Archives at the University of Liverpool

While there’s nothing earthshaking about the tidbit of information I found, it’s always fun to have a bit of serendipity in one’s work and to be reminded of what a small world we live in–and of the power of blogs!

– Cheri Y. Gay, Archvist

Faculty Housing is for the Birds

While working in our digital database recently, I came across an image of something called Chanticleer Cottage. The unusual name and image piqued my interest.

Chanticleer Cottage, 1998

Chanticleer Cottage, 1998. Courtesy Cranbrook Archives

Chanticleer Cottage started out as the “Chicken House,” built in 1945 on the site of the old toboggan slide at Cranbrook School. It was also known as the “Biological Lab,” “Experimental Building,” and “Animal House.” The structure was built to house chickens that accompanied Holland Sperry, the new head of Cranbrook School’s science department. The cost of the 20 x 30 foot building was just under $10,000. Sperry used the chickens to study genetics, and students in the science department completed experiments and conducted research on animals. The most famous resident of the “Chicken House” was Esmerelda, a single-comb White Leghorn who celebrated her 12th birthday (100 in human years) with a cake and candles.

Early cottage occupant Esmerelda celebrates her birthday

Early cottage occupant Esmerelda celebrates her birthday with student Ethan Golden. Pontiac Daily Press

Sperry retired in 1957. In 1958 the building was remodeled into a three bedroom house, at a recommended cost of $25,000 and turned into faculty housing. It was given the more elegant name of Chanticleer Cottage. The building was demolished in 1998 to make way for the Natatorium.

Cheri Y. Gay, Archivist


Cranbrook’s Tenuous Connection to “Crime of the Century”

Birdwatcher. It sounds so benign, doesn’t it? And difficult to reconcile with the infamous names of Leopold and Loeb, perpetrators of the “Crime of the Century” in 1924.

While refiling some material in the Cranbrook Institute of Science (CIS) Director’s Papers recently, I came across a folder labeled “Leopold, Nathan F., correspondence, 1924-1974.” Imagine my surprise—the name leapt out at me! Leopold was half of an infamous pair of murderers in the early 1920s. The correspondence file deals with Leopold’s experience as an amateur ornithologist. While a student at the University of Chicago he authored a monograph called “The Kirtland’s Warbler in its Summer Home,” published in the now defunct The Auk (Jan. 1924). The Kirtland’s warbler is considered a rare bird because in the summer, the only place in the world that it nests is a few counties in northern Michigan (upper and lower peninsulas), in Wisconsin and in Ontario.

Jan. 1924 issue of The Auk. Courtesy Cranbrook Archives

Jan. 1924 issue of The Auk. Courtesy Cranbrook Archives

Leopold’s explorations in ornithology were cut short when he followed his friend Richard Loeb’s challenge to commit a murder, to “see how it felt.” The two boys, from wealthy Chicago families, thought they could commit the perfect crime. On Loeb’s initiative they kidnapped the 14-year old son of a Chicago millionaire, murdered him and dumped the body. The pair were quickly apprehended and prosecuted, and faced the death penalty. Their rich parents were able to hire Clarence Darrow who won them life in prison.

Nathan Leopold was released in 1958, moving to Puerto Rico where he worked in medical research until his death in 1971. He contacted CIS director Dr. Robert Hatt in 1964 to see if the Institute was interested in receiving his diorama of a family of Kirtland’s warbler. “The birds were collected by me with a 16 gauge, double-barreled shotgun … in the late morning of June 20, 1923 … timed [for] the arrival in Oscoda of the only daily train south as would allow for preparing the birds for shipment to Chicago,” he explained in a letter to Hatt. Leopold chose Cranbrook, over the Smithsonian or the New York Museum of Natural History because “ … I believe that this typical Michigan bird should remain in Michigan …” He also donated correspondence with another birder, Douglas S. Middleton, started when he was in prison, and with a friend, Kate Friedman.

leopold postcard2

Postcard sent to Leopold friend upon finding Kirkland's warbler. Courtesy Cranbrook Archives

Postcard Leopold sent to friend upon finding Kirtland’s warbler. Courtesy Cranbrook Archives

In a book called Life Plus 99 Years, Leopold explained that he was already in prison by the time the taxidermist completed the exhibit of the warbler. However, the warden allowed the Leopold family chauffeur to drive the exhibit to the prison for Leopold to view.

The diorama was part of a CIS exhibit called One Does Not Live Alone, under a section called “Conflict,” in June 19, 1967.

– Cheri Y. Gay, Archivist

Early Bicycle Sled?

Courtesy Cranbrook Archives

Courtesy Cranbrook Archives

This gentleman caught my eye as a colleague was browsing through a George G. Booth (GGB) scrapbook containing clippings of illustrations from magazines. The scrapbook was GGB’s “Dream Book” of art and architecture examples on which to model his new home at Cranbrook, and is part of his papers.

Amidst illustrations of terraces, statues and waterfalls was this Alpine dandy. Why is his picture there, and what is that contraption he’s sitting on? A search on the Internet revealed no information on this early 20th century, bladed “vehicle” for seated conveyance. If anyone out there knows more about it, I’d be delighted to know!

–Cheri Gay, Archivist

Good news! One of the Archives’ volunteers, Lois Harsh, spent a cold afternoon diligently searching the Internet and found this web site, that identifies several versions of the ski bike. This particular version is from around 1914. Thanks, Lois!



Glass etched Edison bulb from 1920, found in Cranbrook House.

Glass-etched Edison bulb from 1920, Cranbrook Cultural Properties Collection..

While browsing the historical writings of Henry Scripps Booth recently, I came upon the answer to a question that Collections Fellow, Stefanie Dlugosz, had posed late last year. As she prepared the Center for Collections and Research’s Holiday Tables exhibit (“Illuminate the Seasons” was the theme), which highlighted the early use of electricity in Cranbrook House, Stefanie had wondered what the source of electricity was, in 1908, for a relatively isolated place like Cranbrook. Efforts by several people could not turn up an answer. Until now.

“Although Caldwell’s electric fixtures had been installed about December 1, we still had to use candles and oil lamps for light because the private Edison line being installed from Highland Park to Cranbrook House was incomplete.”  This was recorded during the 1980’s in Henry’s unpublished History (which relates the history of Cranbrook Educational Community and the Booth family between 1800 and 1987).

As the bill from Albert Kahn shows, George G. Booth spent $1863.48, around $49,000 in today’s dollars, on lighting fixtures in Cranbrook House. The order is itemized, room by room, on seven pages of legal-sized paper, in Booth’s papers.

Albert Kahn’s bill to George Booth for Cranbrook House lighting fixtures provided by Edward.F. Caldwell Co.  Papers of George and Ellen Booth 14:23

George Gough Booth Papers, courtesy Cranbrook Archives.

Read the original blog for more information on the Caldwell lighting fixtures at Cranbrook House.

— Cheri Gay, Archivist

Meeting House Inaugurated


Henry Wood Booth outside the Meeting House (now Brookside School)

Henry Wood Booth outside the Meeting House (now Brookside School).

On January 5, 1919, Henry Wood Booth (HWB), father of George Gough Booth (GGB), “opened the Meeting House for divine worship,” according to the historical notes of Henry Scripps Booth (HSB). HWB, who would turn 82 on January 21st, conducted a vesper service and continued to officiate for six months. The Meeting House, designed by GGB and HSB, was the foundation for what later became Brookside School.

Cheri Gay, Archivist

Form Follows Emotion

View-Master 3D Viewer by Design Logic

View-Master 3D Viewer by Design Logic

This is one of the more successful products created by Design Logic, a product design company whose records I’m currently processing. This View-Master 3D Viewer was a new take on an old, familiar product, and reflected the company’s philosophy that every product has both a technical and emotional element. This new version, created in 1985, featured “push-button technology,” and larger image magnification to make it more technologically competitive with other toys of the era, while maintaining the overall look of its predecessor. Time magazine named it one of the best designs of the year.

Design Logic was founded in 1985 by Cranbrook Art Academy graduate David Gresham, and Martin Thayer, a Royal College of Art graduate; the two worked together at ITT Corporation. Operating out of Chicago, the mission of the company was to “create designs that are functional, beautiful, profitable and based on a distinctively American perspective.” The company is no longer in business.

Once the processing of the Design Logic records is complete, a finding aid will be posted on our web site and more images of their creative, unusual products will be in our digital database, so keep an eye out!

– Cheri Gay, Archivist

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