Evolution of a Rink

Sixty years ago Cranbrook School headmaster, Harry Hoey, spoke to a group bundled in their warmest winter clothes at the formal dedication of the new outside skating rink at Cranbrook. The rink was unveiled on January 12th, 1957, at an estimated cost of $104,000. The new “artificial” rink, built on the site of the original natural ice surface, was constructed because there was a constant risk that the natural ice would not sustain a hockey season due to unreliable weather.

Hockey player on the “natural” ice rink, 1940. Photographer Richard G. Askew. Copyright Cranbrook Archives.

The new rink was built to hockey specifications (85 x 190 ft.) and was refrigerated by two over-sized compressors designed to operate in adverse weather conditions. Artificial rinks were a relatively new phenomenon in the 1950s and Cranbrook researched the project for several years before proceeding. The planning team looked at rinks around the country, including Dartmouth, Cornell, and Williams College.

Skaters at the artificial rink dedication. The Pontiac Press, 14 Jan 1957.

The rink was open six months out of the year and accommodated Cranbrook School ice hockey teams and students, as well as the outlying communities for day and night skating. From 1957-1982 the Cranbrook Skating Club oversaw all operations of the rink. During this time the club held Board of Directors meetings, generated correspondence for the raising of funds for daily operations, and supervised various program schedules, benefits, and employees of the skating rink.

By the 1970s the rink was showing wear and the Varsity, Junior Varsity, and middle school teams were forced to buy ice time at neighboring rinks for practice and games. A committee was formed and students, faculty, and friends staged a skate-a-thon and worked with then-Cranbrook president, Arthur Kiendl, to raise money.

The original plan was to build a new enclosed facility for winter skating and summer tennis, but the price was too high, so committee members and Cranbrook administrators decided to complete the work in phases. The first step – cement work for the rink surface and spectators’ section, new boards, and new piping – was completed with a gift by Grace Booth Wallace and her family in 1978. The final phases of the project – which included total enclosure of the arena – were completed in 1979.

A view of Wallace Ice Arena with the tennis courts in the foreground. Photographer Balthazar Korab, Oct 2000.

Today Cranbrook athletes, students, faculty, and the public enjoy the state-of-the art Wallace Ice Arena.

Gina Tecos, Archivist

Think Snow!

Kingswood School Headmistress residence, 1955.

Kingswood School Headmistress residence, 1955.

Boys from Cranbrook School playing hockey outdoors, 1928.

Boys from Cranbrook School playing hockey outdoors, 1928.

Brookside children ice skating, 1928.

Brookside children ice skating, 1928.

Academy of Art students, Florence Chang and Margueritte Kimball cross-country skiing at Cranbrook, 1944.

Academy of Art students Florence Chang and Margueritte Kimball cross-country skiing at Cranbrook, 1944.

Christ Church Cranbrook, ca 1938.

Christ Church Cranbrook, ca 1938.

The Story of a Sweater: 1930-1953

As fall fast approaches and the nights are cooler, all Michiganders are pulling out their jackets and sweaters. Cranbrook School for Boys (as it was once known) had, over the years a variety of sweaters made for the boys to wear, particularly if they were involved in athletics. Although Cranbrook Archives primary collects manuscript collections and institutional records, sometimes we are lucky enough to acquire objects that relate to our past, particularly that of the schools. The Cranbrook Sweater is one such object.

First featured in a team photo for the 1930-31 basketball team, it was a signature uniform for the basketball team photo for the next 22 years. Throughout Cranbrook School’s sports history, athletes on the basketball team, golf team, wrestling team, hockey team, football team, and baseball team all wore the sweater.  Beginning in the 1934-35 season, members of the golf team wore the sweater.

As time passed, the sweater gained increasing momentum in its popularity and peaked among the athletes in the 1940s. However, aside from the basketball team and golf team photos (where the sweater was worn by the entire team), most of the other team photos show only one or two members wearing the sweater for the team photo.  This could be due to the fact that the sweater is made of 100% wool!

Gradually, the sweater lost popularity and by the end of the 1953 school year, it faded out altogether. We are lucky to be caretakers of such a great piece of history, and the type of object that current school students love to see on their visits to the Archives.

Donald Leighton (far left in the photo below) is shown wearing the sweater in our collection.

Golf team 1935-36.

Golf team 1935-36.

Leslie S. Edwards, Head Archivist

Photo Friday: Cranbrook Hockey, Football-style


Cranbrook School hockey practice on the football oval, 1928. Cranbrook Archives.

Hockey at Cranbrook has a long tradition, but it didn’t always have a home.  In 1928, the Cranbrook School hockey team found itself with two out of the three elements necessary for a successful game.  Eager players, check.  Required equipment, check (minus helmets, apparently).  Ice rink?  Not so much.  Always resourceful, however, the team made do, holding practices on the iced-over Cranbrook football field.  Things have changed since then; now the team plays at Wallace Arena, and they tend to wear helmets as well.

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