It’s all in the details: Cranbrook’s Homestead Property

In 1914 George Gough Booth commissioned the Coats & Burchard Company to complete an appraisal of the “Homestead Property” which included a full inventory of Cranbrook House and its outbuildings. This was not uncommon, and Booth continued the practice several times during his life as the Cranbrook campus and its buildings grew and changed.

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Selection of Cranbrook House flooring materials. Courtesy Cranbrook Archives.

Since Cranbrook House was constructed in 1908, the 1914 appraisal ledger is the first in our collection, and is markedly different from the subsequent ones. The biggest difference is that in addition to the furnishings and artwork, all building materials, down to every last detail including number of bricks used, cubic feet for flooring, and even all of the hardware was judiciously and meticulously cataloged.

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Selection of “Bill of Materials” for Cranbrook House. Courtesy Cranbrook Archives.

This ledger and the others (which were taken in 1921, 1933, 1937, and in 1944) have been immensely helpful in historic research of the home and properties. They can be used to help locate objects in their original location in the house, and often point to the year they were purchased and even original purchase invoices. Using this ledger in conjunction with the original drawings and blueprints have been assisted campus architects and project managers with restoration projects on campus as well as projects which determine the structural integrity of buildings for building use and preservation.

Stefanie Kae Dlugosz, Collections Fellow, Center for Collections and Research

Photo Friday: The Great Outdoors

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George G. Booth by Kingswood school area. c. 1906. Courtesy Cranbrook Archives.

Since it has yet to snow and cover the campus with glistening white, I though it best to show the beauty of the greenery and foliage all over this campus. Enjoy the end of the year and holidays with this photo of George G. Booth in the midst of the nature of Cranbrook! We will see you next year!

– Stefanie Kae Dlugosz, Collections Fellow, Center for Collections and Research

Object in Focus: Travel with Saarinen

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Trunks in storage. Photographer, Gretchen Sawatzki.

While organizing and re-arranging some of the cultural properties late last week, Associate Registrar Gretchen Sawatzki and I came across an exciting surprise. Tucked away in a corner of one of the many storage areas across the Cranbrook Campus, we found a pair of steamer trunks. (Steamer trunks are traveling trunks that were used when steamships and ocean liners were the best way to travel overseas.) Upon further inspection we realized that they had many stickers bearing international hotels and transatlantic ocean liners. Painted on one of the trunks we found the initials ES.

E.S. Initials. Photographer, Gretchen Sawatzki.

E.S. Initials. Photographer, Gretchen Sawatzki.

Trunk interior. Photographer, Gretchen Sawatzki.

With a bit more digging and some research we found that these trunks were purchased by Eliel Saarinen from The J.L. Hudson Company in Detroit shortly after his arrival to Michigan in 1923. These trunks traveled with the Saarinens back to Finland, and to other European and international destinations. Check out the inside of the trunks. This is a wardrobe trunk, which you can see from the drawers and hanging section with hangers still inside! Although I don’t think it is practical for travel today, I imagine all the exciting places it voyaged while accompanying Eliel Saarinen on his journeys.

Stefanie Kae Dlugosz, Collections Fellow, Center for Collections and Research

Welcome to the Kitchen Sink!

A Home Economics classroom from Kingswood School, 1932.  Ironically, there's no kitchen sink in sight.

Home Economics classroom at Kingswood School, 1932. Cranbrook Archives.

Welcome to the Cranbrook Kitchen Sink!  This is our very first post, so please bear with us as we explain what we’re doing here and get all excited.  If we had glitter, we’d be throwing it right now.

The Cranbrook Kitchen Sink is an exciting new undertaking for the Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research.  And what is the Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research, you might ask?  Well, we’re essentially a department of archivists and historians who focus on all things Cranbrook.  We’re charged with interpreting the history of this unique educational community, from its founding in 1908 as a country estate for George and Ellen Booth to its current incarnation as a 319-acre campus that includes a prestigious private school, a science museum, a graduate art academy and an art museum.  Also three historic houses, legendary gardens, architecture with National Historic Landmark status, a world-class art collection, and an archive so in-depth you could get lost in it for days…. you get the idea.  This is a big place with a lot of history, and we’re here to cover it all.

So what will you find at the Cranbrook Kitchen Sink?  Well, everything but the!  We want the Kitchen Sink to be a place where Cranbrook Center and Archives staff can post about their research, report back on cool and interesting documents or stories we’ve uncovered, and get just a sliver of the amazing material that makes up Cranbrook’s 100+ year history out into the wider world.  We’re here to tell you the stories you  haven’t heard about this strange, incredible place called Cranbrook.  So sit back, relax, and enjoy all things Cranbrook!

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