When I was little my family lived in suburban Detroit. My grandmother lived in Bloomfield Hills in a big house filled with art and an actual Eames chair. Bloomfield Hills is home to Cranbrook House. Cranbrook is the former manor house of Detroit philanthropists George and Ellen Booth and was converted to an art institution a la Bauhaus in 1904.

Currently, Cranbrook consists of an art academy, art museum, institute of science, a private K-12 school and the home and gardens are available for tours.

The art school and museum featured such greats as Eliel Saarinen, Harry Bertoia and Ray and Charles Eames. Saarinen was commissioned to develop the site in 1925. He built a house for himself and his wife on the property and lived there until 1950.

Dining Room of Saarinen House

Courtyard of Saarinen House

Bertoia Chair

Eames Chair

I can remember going to summer camp at Cranbrook one year. I must have been 6 or 7. Aside from the mid century modern goldmine that it is, Cranbrook is also beautiful and I can remember archery in the yard, swimming in the sunken pool and sitting in a secret chair by a small pond. I can also remember the rooms where we did art - high ceilings and bright spaces - inspiring - even to a little kid.

Eames Studio at Cranbrook. Archive Photo.

I hope to visit again one day. I'm curious to walk the grounds that inspired such innovators as an adult. Maybe I won't try to find that secret chair, though, some things are better left as a memory.


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