Photo Friday: Garnett’s Orange Grove

Florida, it seems, has always been a tourist destination. In 1911, Henry Wood Booth, Clara Gagnier Booth, and their granddaughter Grace Ellen Booth visited a tourist attraction known as Dr. Garnett’s Orange Grove in St. Augustine, Florida. It was the novelty of picking oranges in “rural” St. Augustine that attracted visitors. Dr. Garnett was ready to capture a memory of your visit, installing a photography studio in his orange grove. Lewis W. Blair was the onsite photographer at Garnett’s from 1910 to 1912.

From left: Grace Ellen Booth, Henry Wood Booth, Clara Gagnier Booth picking oranges at Garnett's Orange Grove in St. Augustine, Florida, 1911. Photo by Lewis W. Blair.

From left: Grace Ellen Booth, Henry Wood Booth, Clara Gagnier Booth picking oranges at Garnett’s Orange Grove in St. Augustine, Florida, 1911. Photo by Lewis W. Blair. Courtesy Cranbrook Archives.

This postcard was mailed to George and Ellen Booth March 14, 1911. The note read, “Just had lunch Mch 14. Grace, Gail, Ma and I went by boat this AM to north shore. Fran just learned that James is coming. We are all well today. Temp 68 – 83. H.W.B.”

Leslie S. Mio, Associate Registrar

The Skeptics Tale

The dichotomy of reading is much like the daily work undertaken in the archives. Reading, like research, can feel private, almost sacrosanct, something to escape to; on the other hand, there is a great draw to share the stories and information one discovers, seek commentary and comparison, enlighten someone’s thought process. As archivists, it is our job to assist researchers on their paths to discovery. Often times this direction and assistance leads us to insights as well. In fact, I have yet to assist a researcher along their path of inquiry without further developing my own along the way.

This was very much the case last week while I was scouring our collections for autumnal ephemera to add color to our Facebook followers’ harvest season. In my seasonally focused search I was delighted to come across Cranbrook’s very own ghost story—Cranbrook Boasts a Ghost; or, The Skeptics Tale, by Henry Scripps Booth (Thistle, as he was commonly known). I was intrigued and excited — what a timely discovery, what with Halloween just around the corner! And while I was enticed by the mystery, and enjoyed reading the descriptions of the vaulted spaces of St. Dunstan’s chapel [editor’s note: St. Dunstan’s is at Christ Church Cranbrook] filled with apparitions (a place I was lucky enough to tour, and you can too!) The Skeptics Tale, more importantly, reiterated an intrinsic truth about Cranbrook – that it is a space imagined and created by many minds and hands.

Christ Church Cranbrook, from "Highlights of Detroit". Cut by Eugene Reeber, Jefferson Intermediate School, 1932.

Christ Church Cranbrook, from “Highlights of Detroit”. Cut by Eugene Reeber, Jefferson Intermediate School, 1932.

Throughout the tale, I gained a sense of workmanship and craft, two features indicative of most spaces on Cranbrook’s sprawling campus. The characters in the tale pined over the construction of the brilliant structure, venerating its beauty as a testament to their commitment to their craft. It is, however, only near the end of the short story where I began to feel (if not see) the intentions of individuals who worked throughout the years to craft Cranbrook into the sprawling idyllic landscape of natural and man-made elements we know today.

“He discovered familiar faces in that strange assembly—faces of men who had lived and worked at Cranbrook. There before him was Tony by the column which bears his name; Mike Vettraino; Henry Booth, the coppersmith; his distinguished-looking father with the sideburns who brought the craftsman’s tradition from the ancient Cranbrook to this continent. There in the fourth chair of the fifth row: Milles, famed for his sculpture; a row or two behind, Saarinen, famed for his buildings; and nearby, Kirk, the silversmith.”

Though only apparitions in The Skeptics Tale, these individuals’ real accomplishments and contributions to Cranbrook, along with those of countless other influential men, women, and students, can be discovered through our collections. In the spirit of the season, we invite you to journey into our crypt and discover some of their stories yourself.

Belinda Krencicki, Associate Archivist

Kaoka: Homeopathic Coffee?

Kaoka, the brainchild of Henry Wood Booth, came about after a doctor suggested that he quit drinking caffeine and gave Booth a recipe for “bran coffee.” Since Booth and his children all liked the beverage, he determined one night that it might make a good business venture. He experimented with various roasting pans– even one in the form of a coffee roaster which was a failure as “it nearly blew up with the generated steam.” Booth finally made one that roasted to his satisfaction and the family gathered together to name this new beverage and “Kaoka” was born. Wrappers were printed and family members made paper boxes to put in local grocery stores.

On June 10, 1879, a patent was issued to the Kaoka Manufacturing Company in St. Thomas, Ontario. Booth located a building and fitted it with a large steam engine and boiler and seven roasters which ran day and night. In addition to the male employees, seventy-five women were employed (to make boxes), and soon a joint stock company was formed. Booth was retained as the manager of the plant and also served as the public relations “salesman.” In November 1879, Booth set up a display at the First Annual Exhibition of the Agricultural and Industrial Exhibition Association of Toronto with a “kaoka coffee pot” and gave away free samples of the drink. A local newspaper reported that “kaoka was found to be palatable and quite fit – at least with a large number of people – to be used as a regular beverage.”

The Kaoka Factory, 1879. Henry Wood Booth Papers.

The Kaoka Manufacturing Company, 1879. Henry Wood Booth Papers.

In 1880, the company’s directors asked Booth to go to Detroit in order to establish the business in the United States. However, Booth made the decision (which he later deemed “unwise”) to strike out on his own and set up the American business for himself, and sold his interest in the Canadian venture. After several set-backs, and his money ran out, Henry Wood Booth got out of the Kaoka business and went to work for the United States Post Office. The Detroit venture was, however, what ultimately relocated the Booth family to Detroit. And, Henry Wood Booth was considered the originator of the commercial cereal beverage.

Sidebar: during the time the company was trying to set up the Detroit enterprise, two men who had worked at the Kaoka plant in St. Thomas went to Battle Creek and established the cereal drink under a new name!

Leslie S. Edwards, Head Archivist

A Portrait Comes Home to Cranbrook House

The portrait of Clara Gagnier Booth, mother of Cranbrook founder George Gough Booth, has been mounted in the Oak Room at Cranbrook House. This painting is on long-term loan to Cranbrook from the Saginaw Art Museum, which acquired the painting through a donation from Clara Booth’s grandson, John Lord Booth I.


Conservation in-progress, April 2013 by Kenneth B. Katz, Conservation and Museum Services.

After receiving conservation treatment and a new frame, this painting of Clara Booth will accompany that of her husband, Henry Wood Booth, as well as their son George, his wife Ellen Scripps Booth, and Ellen’s father James Edmund Scripps. Financial support from John Lord Booth II affords this opportunity to join the painting of the Booth family matriarch with those of her relatives at Cranbrook House.

The artwork was painted in 1918 by Russian-born artist Ossip Perelma, known particularly for his portraits of men of stature such as President Woodrow Wilson, King Albert I of Belgium, and several Russian and French political officials. Perelma also executed the stately portrait of Henry Wood Booth, currently on view in the Oak Room.

Demure in size and executed with soft and fluid brush strokes, Clara Booth’s portrait contrasts with that of her husband. While Henry is depicted in full length in an outdoor background, his wife is shown only by profile, with just the upper half of her torso included in the composition. The stylistic distinction between Clara’s portrait and that of her husband—and indeed many of Perelma’s other subjects—emphasizes the differing approach Perelma took to depicting a woman.

In the early twentieth century, even women of position, beauty, and culture were often removed from public view after their role as wife and mother was fulfilled, and their youth had faded. This portrait was painted when Clara Booth was 79, and it is notable that Perelma chose not to conceal his subject’s age. Indeed, the portrait is a rare and significant example of art providing legitimacy and prestige to a woman who remained elegant and strong as she reached an age when most women no longer had a public presence or were being immortalized by artists.

Both portraits, Clara Gagnier Booth and Henry Wood Booth, will be available for viewing when Cranbrook House opens for public tours on Sunday June 14th! For more information on the tours check out the Cranbrook House & Gardens Auxillary website.

Stefanie Dlugosz-Acton, Collections Fellow, Center for Collections and Research

Meeting House Inaugurated


Henry Wood Booth outside the Meeting House (now Brookside School)

Henry Wood Booth outside the Meeting House (now Brookside School).

On January 5, 1919, Henry Wood Booth (HWB), father of George Gough Booth (GGB), “opened the Meeting House for divine worship,” according to the historical notes of Henry Scripps Booth (HSB). HWB, who would turn 82 on January 21st, conducted a vesper service and continued to officiate for six months. The Meeting House, designed by GGB and HSB, was the foundation for what later became Brookside School.

Cheri Gay, Archivist

Photo Friday: The Other Cranbrook

Coppersmith's shop, Cranbrook, England.  July, 1901.  Henry Wood Booth Papers, Cranbrook Archives.

Coppersmith’s shop, Cranbrook, England. July, 1901. Henry Wood Booth Papers, Cranbrook Archives.

In 1901, Henry Wood Booth, Cranbrook founder George Gough Booth’s father, took this photograph of the shop in Cranbrook, Kent, where his own father had worked as a coppersmith before moving to Canada with his young family.   A handwritten note on the back of the photograph, which is held in the Henry Wood Booth Papers at the Cranbrook Archives, explains that the copper tea kettle hanging from the door was made by Henry’s grandfather (the original George Booth), who also made his trade as a coppersmith.  Three generations (and a whole lot of people named Booth) later, George Booth’s great-great-grandson George Gough Booth would build an entire campus around the idea of promoting the applied arts, naming it “Cranbrook” in honor of this town and community.

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