George Booth, a newspaper magnate, had a vision to create a masterpiece of the Arts & Crafts style in 1908. He commissioned renowned Detroit architect Albert Kahn to design the Cranbrook estate, an English Tudor house with wooden frame. The house was situated on top of a hill overlooking the estate and was an Arts and Crafts variant of a traditional English manor house. Kahn was a rising young architect in Detroit who had previously built a barn at Booth's house in the city. He was joined by many artists who contributed to the house's beauty.
Sculptors Paul Manship and Mario Korbell; silversmiths Arthur J. Stone, Elizabeth Copeland and Omar Ramsden; Mary Chase Perry Stratton of Pewabic Pottery and Dr. Henry Mercer of Moravian pottery; the Edward J. Caldwell Studio in New York; blacksmiths Samuel Yellin and Frank Koralewsky; and wood carver John Kirschmayer of Cambridge, Massachusetts, all improved Cranbrook House with their art. The chief architect was Eliel Saarinen, while Albert Kahn was responsible for the Booth mansion.
The sculptors Carl Milles and Marshall Fredericks also resided for many years in Cranbrook. The house and gardens are the centerpiece of the campus and contain tapestries, hand-carved carpentry, and artistic and artisanal antiques. In 1904, Booth bought a 174-acre farm 20 miles northwest of Detroit which he named Cranbrook in honor of his ancient English home. He continued to acquire land and supervise workers as they leveled roads and hills, planted grass and created Lake Glastonbury (now Lake Kingswood), fed by waterfalls built from natural springs. Starting in 1909, Booth consulted landscape architect O.
Simonds who recommended a naturalistic approach to reforesting arid and undulating terrain. The edges of the lake were planted with native shrubs, trees and herbaceous plants, while the roads were lined with forests of pine, red cedars, hazelnuts and dogwood. As the oldest preserved historic mansion in the Detroit metropolitan area, Cranbrook House has a long and illustrious past. In 1971, Henry Scripps Booth and a small group of interested individuals organized what would later become the Cranbrook House Garden Assistant & with the intention of preserving, maintaining and sharing Booth's historic manor house and forty-acre estate. Booth also began building the Cranbrook Children's School, a college preparatory school exclusively for boys. To learn more about Cranbrook's rich history, visitors can visit the Cranbrook Collection and Research Center which is home to the Cranbrook Archives. The Cranbrook schools comprise a mixed day high school and boarding school, a preparatory high school, and a Brookside High School. The Cranbrook Institute of Science was inaugurated in 1933 and houses a collection of specimens related to natural history and science. The Cranbrook Art Museum maintains a contemporary art collection that includes works by Harry Bertoia, Maija Grotell, Carl Milles, Robert Motherwell, Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein.
Booth personally commissioned tapestries, wood carvings, furniture, goldsmithery, glass work, fine bindings and other decorative items from the workshops of leading American and European artisans and craft firms to place them in Cranbrook House. The founders also built Christ Church Cranbrook as a focal point to serve the educational complex. Aside from occasional receptions, parties, concerts, meetings and tours, Cranbrook House received unusual use in the years immediately following George and Ellen Booth's passing. This impeccable classic building was Cranbrook's first facility intended for public use. It is comprised of the Cranbrook Schools, the Cranbrook Academy of Art, the Cranbrook Museum of Art, the Cranbrook Institute of Science and the Cranbrook House and Gardens. From the entrance yard is a path that leads to an open-air Greek Theater designed by Burrowes which was built in 1915 (restoration 1990-1991 by Quinn Evans).Cranbrook is famous for its architecture in the style of the Arts and Crafts Movement by principal architects Albert Kahn and Eliel Saarinen. It is an iconic example of American Arts & Crafts style architecture that has been preserved for over 100 years.