Illumination!

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  This was recorded during the 1980’s in Henry’s unpublished History (which relates the history of Cranbrook Educational Community and the Booth family between 1800 and 1987).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

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