In addition to its breathtaking grounds, Cranbrook features two historic homes from the early 1900s right on campus, and also operates tours of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Smith House, which is just down the road. Surround yourself in art and design history with one of our three immersive visiting experiences, open for tour season every year in the springtime and through the fall.
Saarinen House is Eliel Saarinen’s Art Deco masterwork and the jewel of Cranbrook’s architectural treasures. Designed in the late 1920s and located at the heart of Cranbrook Academy of Art, from 1930 through 1950 Saarinen House served as the home and studio of the Finnish-American designer Eliel Saarinen—Cranbrook’s first resident architect and the Art Academy’s first president and head of the Architecture Department—and Loja Saarinen—the Academy’s first head of the Weaving Department. The extraordinary interior, now impeccably restored, features the Saarinens’ original furnishings, including Eliel’s delicately veneered furniture and Loja’s sumptuous textiles, as well as early furniture designs by their son, Eero Saarinen.
School teachers Sara Stein Smith and Melvyn Maxwell Smith, undeterred by their modest salaries and guided by a shared love of architecture, met Frank Lloyd Wright at his Taliesin studio in 1941 and commissioned a custom home. The Smith House in Bloomfield Hills is an excellent example of Wright’s Usonian ideal which aimed to build quality houses for the American middle class. The lovingly restored home, which Wright called “My Little Gem” during a 1951 visit, features an L-shaped floor plan and horizontal, cantilevered roof planes. This tour offers a unique view of this special home, its landscape, and the story of a couple whose vision and determination allowed them to achieve their dream. Tours of the Smith House, which is owned by a private foundation, are available through the Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research.
Cranbrook House is the English-Tudor, Arts & Crafts style estate of Cranbrook’s founders, George Gough and Ellen Scripps Booth. Completed in 1908 by Detroit architect Albert Kahn, Cranbrook House is the oldest surviving manor home in the metro-Detroit area and the centerpiece of the Cranbrook Educational Community campus, a National Historic Landmark. On your tour, docents will highlight handcrafted furnishings, tapestries, and a selection of the Booth’s large collection of world class art.
Cranbrook House is surrounded by 40 acres of beautiful gardens featuring iconic fountains and statuary. With the melody of water streaming from iconic fountains, the smell of flowers in our remarkable gardens, and incredible vistas at every turn, the feeling of history and architectural wonder are all around you. Both the house and gardens are maintained by Cranbrook House and Gardens Auxiliary, a non-profit, volunteer-run organization.
Cranbrook Gardens are open 9am to 5pm daily, from May through October. Admission is FREE for the 2016 tour season, courtesy of presenting sponsor PNC Bank, and sponsors All Seasons and Roberts Restaurant Group.
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