When most people hear the word “Cranbrook,” they think of Eliel Saarinen, modernist design, art and science, or private education. Some even think of our sister schools in England, British Columbia or Australia. But how many people think of farm animals named “Daisy Lovelace” or “Nellie of Cranbrook?” When the Booths purchased the old Alexander farm in 1904, one could see rolling farmland covered with hay fields and orchards. Indeed, George Booth soon became a gentleman farmer.
In fact, Cranbrook boasted TWO working farms, originally called Farm Group #1 and #2, situated on the grounds of what are now the campuses of Kingswood School and Cranbrook School respectively. Farm Group #1 (1904) was designed no, not by Saarinen, but by that other architect, Albert Kahn! – one of Kahn’s earliest commissions for George Booth. Farm Group #2 (1917) was designed by Canadian architect Marcus Burrowes and his partner Dalton Wells, recommended to Booth by Kahn who was getting mighty busy with his industrial projects. When the footprint for Cranbrook School for Boys was developed, George Booth asked Eliel Saarinen to follow the plan for Farm Group #2. Today’s Hoey Hall is on the site of the old silo. The only remaining evidence of the farm buildings is the orignal farmhouse designed by Burrowes and Wells.
~Leslie S. Edwards, Head Archivist