The Booth Legacy
The history of Cranbrook Schools and the Cranbrook Educational Community is rich and extensive, tracing its roots back to the 1800s and the auspicious marriage of Ellen Scripps to George Booth. The Booths went on to become the founders of Cranbrook, the visionaries who dreamed these institutions into being and who believed they should build something lasting and valuable with their lives and resources.
George and Ellen Booth bought the land that would become Cranbrook in 1904 and began to improve it for use as a vacation spot and potential home site. In 1908, they moved into their new home, Cranbrook House, designed by Detroit architect Albert Kahn. The Booths then began to look toward the future, hoping that the property could assume a higher service of some public nature.
In 1922, the Booths joined with a few local parents to organize a school for neighborhood children at the Meeting House. Known as the Bloomfield Hills School in its early years, the institution was helped considerably by the Booths, who set up a trust to underwrite its educational programs and made additions to the Meeting House as required to accommodate the growing number of pupils. In 1929, the school was enlarged substantially by the Booth's son Henry. Its name was changed to Brookside School the following year.
In 1925, George Booth began to collaborate with architect Eliel Saarinen to develop plans for other educational institutions on the Cranbrook campus. The first project Saarinen undertook for the Cranbrook Foundation established by the Booths in 1927 was to build Cranbrook School, which was completed in 1928. In 1929, Saarinen began to design the girls' school, Kingswood School Cranbrook, and he collaborated with artisans to create furniture, fabrics, and other decorative elements for the schools. Kingswood school opened to students in 1931.
For years, the schools were governed as separate bodies. In 1970, an agreement was made to create a single board to govern the three schools—Brookside, Kingswood, and Cranbrook. This agreement created administrative and educational collaboration between the schools, co-educational classes in the upper schools, and programs which allowed faculty and resource sharing.
The present organization of Cranbrook Schools, begun in October 1984 and completed the following autumn, included the merging of Cranbrook and Kingswood upper schools to create the unified, co-educational Cranbrook Kingswood Upper School that spans two campuses. Similarly, the middle schools were reorganized as Cranbrook Kingswood Middle School, with two single-sex campuses. Brookside School, the Cranbrook Kingswood Lower School, continues to operate in its historical quarters as a co-educational school. In 1996, the Vlasic Early Childhood Center, designed by architect Peter Rose, first opened on the Brookside campus to students in pre-, junior- and senior-kindergarten.
Cranbrook Schools continues to be a highly respected institution, part of a unique educational center which includes a respected scientific institute, a successful artistic community, beautiful grounds, and exceptional architecture. As we grow, we respect and honor the vision and foundation of our schools as set forth by George and Ellen Booth upon the founding of Cranbrook.