Thursday, September 10, 2015

Tea and Tour at Cranbrook House and Gardens

Today I had 1:15 p.m. reservations for Afternoon Tea and a tour of Cranbrook House and Gardens. I've been to Cranbrook House twice before, but never for an official tour of the mansion, and both occasions were in December when the gardens were dormant.  So pour yourself a cup of tea and come along on an armchair tour with me.

Below are the entrance gates to Cranbrook House and Gardens - the centerpiece of Cranbrook Educational Community Campus.

~ Front of Cranbrook House ~

George G. Booth married Ellen Warren Scripps in 1887.  The Scripps family owned the Detroit News and George eventually became president of the newspaper.  He also founded the independent Booth newspapers which spanned the southern half of Michigan.

In 1904 the couple purchased 174-acres of barren farm land for what was originally going to become a 'summer country house'.   The Booths hired architect Albert Kahn [who designed Edsel & Eleanor Ford's house in 1927, and other notable buildings in Detroit] to design their English Arts and Crafts style mansion.  The house was completed in 1908, and due to unforeseen circumstances, Cranbrook became their permanent residence.  The Booths, with their five children [three boys and two girls], were the first family of wealth to live in Bloomfield Hills year-round.

~ Entrance ~

George Booth named Cranbrook after his father's birthplace in Kent County, England.  It is the oldest manor house in metropolitan Detroit.  Wings were added after the family took up residence. The west wing [library and offices] was built in 1918, and the east wing - Oak Room [originally called the Common Room for plays, dances, and entertainment] and servant's quarters were built in 1919.   

~ West Wing ~ 

~ East Wing ~

The mansion is 40,000 square feet.  The first floor tour consisted of the library, enclosed sun porch, living room, reception room, Mr. Booth's office, formal dining room, small dining room, and Oak Room.  The second floor, which was not part of the tour, once had 13 bedrooms and 5 bathrooms, but the bedrooms have been converted to executive offices for the Cranbrook educational staff. Outside are 40 acres of beautiful gardens.

The tea was held in the library, but we toured the mansion first.  There were between 35-40 people in attendance - mostly ladies, and a few brave men.

~ Carving over the fireplace mantle depicting various craftsmen. ~

~ Living Room ~

~ Notice entrance to the library to the right of the living room fireplace ~

~ Enclosed sun porch just off  the living room ~

~ The living room opens to the Reception Room.  Portrait is of Booth's oldest daughter. ~

Entrance to the mansion is off the Reception Room, as well as staircase leading to 2nd floor.

~ Mr. Booth's office is to the right of the entrance hallway. ~

~ Formal Dining Room ~

The dining room table is original to the Booth family and seats 34.

~ Looking from the dining room into the reception room ~

The Oak Room is accessed by a door on the east side of the dining room [see second photo above].

Linen-fold paneling, and Bible "picture" fireplace surround.  These were common for people who couldn't read, and since Mr. Booth was very involved in the Arts and Crafts movement, he wanted it represented in his Oak Room.  

The photo below is a scene from the upper right corner of the surround depicting Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

~ Gorgeous Ceiling - Incredible Craftsmanship! ~

~ Doorway in the Oak Room ~

Below are portraits of Ellen and George Booth in the Oak Room.  Desiring to serve the public, they began construction of six institutions on Cranbrook property in 1922 [Brookside School for Children, Christ Church of Cranbrook, Cranbrook School for Boys, Cranbrook Academy of Arts, Cranbrook Institute of Science, and Kingswood School for Girls].  They deeded Cranbrook House and Gardens to the Cranbrook Foundation in 1944.  Mrs. Booth passed away in 1948, and Mr. Booth in 1949.

Now... it's back to the library for tea!  Beverage Station - Iced Tea, Lemonade, Hot Tea [tea bags - I chose Bigelow's Lemon Lift black tea] or Coffee.

Yummy sandwiches:  Michigan Chicken Cherry, Egg Salad, Smoked Salmon, and Cucumber Boursin, in generous supply.

~ Fresh Fruit and Dip ~

~  Scones and Desserts ~

I sat at a table with five delightful ladies.   A mother and daughter, Cindy and Ellie, and three other ladies who were friends - two of whom were from England.  It was a delightful afternoon. Tea and Tours are only held on the 2nd Thursdays of August, September and October.   If you live in the area, I highly recommend going to October's.  

[Cindy and her daughter, Ellie]

~ Tomorrow's post will conclude with Cranbrook Gardens. ~


  1. It looks wonderful! I'm sorry I could not go, I know I would have enjoyed it. Maybe another time.

  2. Oh, what a beautiful place! I enjoyed the armchair tour today and will look forward to seeing the gardens.


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