Indiana Jones and the Search for the Pergola Picture: My Senior May Experience

Growing up so close to the Henry Ford Museum, or watching my family’s favorite go-to movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark, I knew that I was interested in history from an early age. Yet, I never stopped to think about Cranbrook’s own fascinating and world-renowned past. To me, this community was just “home”, and the only history I thought of was of my family’s connection with the school. Nevertheless, for my Senior May project, I wanted to learn more about the inter-workings of the educational community as a whole. With this in mind, I chose to intern at the Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research and the Archives for my last senior assignment.

Elizabeth Fairman, CKU ’17

The purpose of Cranbrook’s Senior May project is to give soon-to-be Upper School graduates a taste of a “real world” job for the month of May in their field of interest.  Initially, I assumed I would be either in Art Museum storage moving art pieces or doing research on the computer every day, but I could not have been more wrong.

Over the course of my three weeks, I had behind-the-scenes tours of Cranbrook’s many historic landmarks, firsthand looks at restorations, handling and moving donated art pieces, and countless hours of both digital and primary source research. I met many people who are tasked with adding to and preserving this living historical landmark, no small task given the expansive campus. My perspective of the community, initially as the place of my education and a source of livelihood for my family, was altered, and I began to see it as an operational historical site.

In short, I had a very full, albeit whirlwind experience of almost everything that being an archivist or registrar entails.

Organizing original Kingswood School silverware in Heaven.

My favorite experiences were the tours of campus. Although I have attended this school for 14 years, very rarely did my classes study the history of Cranbrook or take field trips to different buildings on campus besides Cranbrook Institute of Science. In fact, I had only visited Saarinen House and Thornlea once before Senior May, just three weeks before I am set to graduate. My supervisor, Mrs. Mio, added another element of the visits, a look at them through the eyes of a registrar who is tasked with upkeep and restoration of historic sites. Through tasks such as cataloging Booth dinner plates at Cranbrook House, identifying historic bookbinding tools used at the Academy of Art, and even checking mouse traps at Thornlea, I developed a deeper appreciation for the amount of work it takes to showcase the history of this community, as well as a chance to see rooms or storage out of the public’s eye.

Clothing collection at Cranbrook House storage.

Another aspect I enjoyed was the research itself, like searching through “the stacks”, where many of the important archival files are kept. It is a place where you can find both important and unexpected things. For instance, one afternoon while searching for photos and records of the Cranbrook House Pergola for Ms. Edwards, I came across security reports from the 1960’s detailing the dangers of “hippie types” on campus. I was also able to piece together more of the history of Cranbrook firsthand through organizing and filing other primary sources created by prominent figures in the Community’s past.

Elizabeth Fairman, CKU ’17

Editor’s Note: Elizabeth Fairman is a “lifer” at Cranbrook, having attended school here since Kindergarten. In addition to that, her father Andy is the upper school baseball coach and physical education teacher at Brookside School. Both of Elizabeth’s grandmothers (Sue Tower and Marilyn Sutton) taught school at Brookside for many years. We thank Elizabeth for her exemplary work ethic and positive attitude and wish her the best of luck in her new adventure at Bates College in Maine.

Putting on a Holiday Scene

Every year, the Center for Collections and Research decorates George G. Booth’s Office for the Cranbrook House & Gardens Auxiliary’s Holiday Splendor event. This year, we were inspired by the Booth children and grandchildren.

xmas_grandkids1

Some of the Booth grandchildren put on a play at George and Ellen Booth’s 50th wedding anniversary, 1937. Courtesy of Cranbrook Archives.

All children enjoy playing “dress-up” – whether in a costume or in the clothes of a family member. For George and Ellen Booth’s family, especially their youngest children Florence (“Smike”) and Henry (“Thistle”), any occasion was an excuse to dress-up – a family picnic, a visit from family or friends, the arrival of a new boat for Glastonbury Lake.

xmas_marji

Marjorie Booth wearing her grandmother Ellen Scripps Booth’s wedding dress, on the occasion of George and Ellen’s 50th wedding anniversary, 1937. Courtesy of Cranbrook Archives

For this year’s holiday installation, we imagined the Booth grandchildren playing dress-up with clothes from their grandparent’s closet—their grandmother’s dresses and hats, costumes from performances at the Greek Theater, and other items stored in the vast closets here at Cranbrook House. Perhaps they’re putting on a play, as they did for their grandparents’ anniversary in 1937, or maybe they’re simply celebrating and having fun, as Smike and Thistle were so fond of doing in their youth.

Accompanying the five outfits, the Center decorated a small tree and the mantle with iridescent, green, and silver ornaments, drawing out the colors of Florence Booth’s green dress and a beautiful Rene Lalique (1860-1945) glass vase (before 1930) we’ve set out on the desk. In the center of the mantle we’ve displayed Henry Scripps Booth and Carolyn Farr Booth’s Nativity (mid-20th century), sculpted by Clivia Calder Morrison (1909-2010). A Michigan native, Calder Morrison studied at the Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts with Samuel Cashwan and later at the Art Students League in New York, and this small crèche featuring the three Magi with gifts, Mary holding Jesus, and Joseph was kept in the oratory at Thornlea. Oh, and the Santa bag and hat on display were part of Henry’s costume he donned for Christmas parties here at the House!

Our display will be up through the New Year.  If you are in Cranbrook House for the Center’s piano/violin concert & book launch, Carl Milles’s Muse: Ludwig van Beethoven on December 11, or a Holiday Tea, Luncheon, or just for a meeting, please stop by and visit.

-Kevin Adkisson, Center Collections Fellow; Leslie S. Mio, Assistant Registrar

Can You Say Lobster Roll?

It feels as though summer is winding down and this week is the final session of Cranbrook Art Museum Summer Camp. We enjoyed a visit from students earlier in the week who were part of the “Costumes and Characters” session. While pulling materials to show the students, we came across this photo of Ralph Russell Calder (1894-1969), an architect and friend of Henry Scripps Booth. He is in a lobster costume made by Loja Saarinen for a “May Party” in 1926.

1926

From the Henry Scripps and Carolyn Farr Booth Papers, Cranbrook Archives.

Calder, born in 1894, was a veteran of World War I and an accomplished musician. He graduated in 1923 from the University of Michigan College of Architecture (he and Henry were classmates). In 1924, he studied in England, France, and Italy as the winner of the George G. Booth Traveling Fellowship in Architecture.

Calder Card007

A card from Ralph Calder & Associates, Inc. with a 1924 sketch by Ralph Calder during his travels in Europe on the Booth Traveling Fellowship.

In 1925, Calder worked for several months as part of U of M’s Near East Research Expedition in Tunisia. The research and objects obtained from this expedition are the basis of the collection at the Francis W. Kelsey Museum of Archaeology at U of M. Calder joined the Cranbrook Architectural Office in 1926 and remained there until staff was reduced due to the economic depression. In 1937, he joined the firm of William G. Malcomson and Maurice E. Hammond where he stayed until 1945, when he started his own firm, Ralph Calder and Associates, in Detroit.

Calder worked on the following buildings on the Cranbrook campus: the main academic building (Hoey Hall) at Cranbrook School, Thornlea, and Thornlea Studio. In addition, he was the architect for buildings at Michigan State University, Michigan Technological University, Hope College, Northern Michigan University, Hillsdale College, Wayne State University, Ferris State University, Western Michigan University, and Lake Superior State University. He enjoyed music as a hobby and was the organist and choirmaster for St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral in Detroit in the 1940s.

Gina Tecos, Archivist

Object in Focus: Gone but Not Forgotten

Buddy_blog

Grave of Buddy. Photo taken by Cheri Gay.

Taking a stroll one day on the grounds of the Thornlea Studio (where Cranbrook Archives was previously housed) I was startled to come across small tombstones, almost buried in the grass. What were these, I wondered? Seeing the names, I immediately understood: Buddy, Homer, Perky, Heinie, Fellow, Ricky, Zorah—a pet cemetery, which had seen better days.

Thornlea Studio was the artistic lair of Henry Scripps Booth, who designed and placed the building across the wide expanse of lawn from his home Thornlea. The family actually lived in the studio in 1949 when “… our daughter Melinda was a student at Kingswood. She was embarrassed by our living in “such a big house” and prevailed on her mother to close the house and move across the lawn to the Studio.”

The Henry Scripps Booth and Carolyn Farr Booth Papers document six dogs, almost all black and tan German shepherds. Receipts from Sheldon Granite Co. in Detroit reveal they made the monuments for Heinie, Perky and the lyrically named, Homer the Wanderer. A 1961 notebook paper receipt identifies Albert Leipold, of Birmingham, as the stone carver for Fellow’s monument for $40.

Mike

Henry Scripps Booth with Mike, 1912. Cranbrook Archives.

Buddy 1929

Buddy at Thornlea, 1929. Cranbrook Archives.

When Henry was growing up, the Booth family had beagles, Prince and Mike, and a great Dane, Ginger. Mike, according to Henry, “ … loved having a fuss made over him, one time going so far as being pushed around in a doll carriage while wearing a canvas hat.” Oh to have a photograph of that! When Henry had his own family, black and tan German shepherds predominated.

Henry’s photo albums, called Pleasures of Life, include 17 different dogs, though not all are his. His hand-written captions under the photographs always give the dog’s name followed by (dog) in case there’s any doubt, for example, in a photo of Cynthia and Curlytail, who is who.

Though the grounds and building of the Thornlea Studio are maintained, unfortunately that care doesn’t extend to Henry Booth’s lovingly buried companions. It’s a project waiting to happen.

Dog Graveyard_Blog

Thornlea Studio pet cemetery. Photo by Cheri Gay.

–Cheri Gay, Archivist

Photo Friday: A Splash of Color

Kingswood School Rose Lounge. Cranbrook Archives

Kingswood School Rose Lounge, The Cranbrook Hand-Colored Lantern Slide Collection. Cranbrook Archives

As the weather here at Cranbrook is more than a little dreary, today’s photo provides a look into a bright and cozy atmosphere perfect for reading, relaxing and being inside. Taken around 1932, it shows a group of students gathered in the lounge of the Kingswood School dormitory (originally known as Reception Room III) listening to two of their peers play the piano. The photograph comes from Cranbrook Archives’ Hand-Colored Lantern Slide Collection. The photographs in this collection were originally black-and-white and were painted with watercolor years later, and not by the original photographer. This jump in time explains the vibrant color choices in the photograph as the painter was not present when the image was originally captured.

The Cranbrook Hand-Colored Lantern Slide Collection contains over 30 images of Cranbrook institutions taken primarily during the 1920s and 1930s. Several of the original black and white images were taken by architectural photographers for inclusion in publications.

Today’s photo was taken by George W. Hance, Cranbrook’s first paid staff photographer (1931-1932). Hance had been commissioned by George Booth as early as 1916 to photograph his art collection and later photographed Cranbrook’s campus and grounds including Kingswood, Cranbrook House (home to George and Ellen Booth) and Thornlea (home to Henry Scripps Booth). Explore more photographs like these on our digital image database or in person at the Archives!

Stefanie Dlugosz, Collections Fellow, Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research

 

 

Five Things in Four Years: A Cranbrook Goodbye*

I’m not a hugely sentimental person, but I am a nostalgic one (I swear, there’s a difference). As I leave Cranbrook after four years here to embark on the next phase of my career, I can’t help but think about all the different places on campus I will miss. Here are my top five:

Cranbrook House, 1925.  Cranbrook Archives.

Cranbrook House, 1925. Cranbrook Archives.

Continue reading

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: