Join the Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research as we take you inside three remarkable homes from across the twentieth century. There’s no tour quite like it, with a look into the distinct visions for American life from three internationally significant architects: Albert Kahn, Eliel Saarinen, and Frank Lloyd Wright. Your expert guide will take you through the architecture and innovations of each home, while also sharing the stories of the families who built and lived in these special places. Each house maintains unique and rich collections of decorative and fine art, and over the course of this tour, you will learn about the Arts and Crafts Movement and how its legacy lived on at Cranbrook well into the twentieth century.
THE WALKING TOUR INCLUDES
1:00pm Walk to Cranbrook House. After meeting your guide in the parking lot of Cranbrook Art Museum (details are noted below under Tour Information), walk through woods and terraced gardens to Cranbrook House.
1:15pm Albert Kahn-designed Cranbrook House. The founders of Cranbrook, George and Ellen Booth, worked with Detroit architect Albert Kahn to create a large country house in the English Arts & Crafts style. Completed in 1908, with additions in 1918 and 1919, the house was filled not with antiques but with handmade decorative arts from the best makers of their age. Of special interest is the grand library, with its handwoven World War One memorial tapestry and incredible hand-carved oak overmantel celebrating the Arts and Crafts Movement.
1:50pm Walk to Saarinen House. The walk includes stops at the Triton Pools, with sculptures by Carl Milles, and the Saarinen-designed Arts and Crafts Courtyard, where Cranbrook Academy of Art began.
2:10pm Eliel Saarinen-designed Saarinen House. Eliel Saarinen acted as both client and architect for this landmark Art Deco home and studio, which was built to serve the president of Cranbrook Academy of Art. Eliel lived there with his wife Loja from 1930 until 1950. This Gesamtkunstwerk, or total work of art, features handwoven textiles, handcrafted furniture, and custom fixtures, all designed by the Saarinens and many made at Cranbrook. Our tour includes the gold-domed dining room, one of the country’s most spectacular spaces.
3:05pm Refreshments at Cranbrook Art Museum’s Peristyle. A light snack and water will be provided, and restrooms are available. Your guide is available for conversation and to answer any questions about Cranbrook you may have.
3:25pm Drive to Smith House. A map will be provided for this short, one-mile drive into a neighboring subdivision.
3:35pm Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Smith House. Detroit public schoolteachers Melvyn and Sara Smith built this unique family home, an example of Wright’s vision for American living, which he called Usonia, in 1950. The Smiths dedicated themselves to filling their home with works of art, much of it from Cranbrook student and alumni studios. The tour highlights a tour de force mosaic folding screen by Glen Michaels and a monumental metal credenza by Paul Evans. The Smiths’ heyday of collecting came in the 1970s, making this house a time-capsule of that period as much as it is a work by America’s foremost architect.
4:30pm Tour concludes.
Three Visions of Home tours depart from the parking lot of Cranbrook Art Museum, located at 39221 Woodward Avenue, Bloomfield Hills, MI 48304. Your guide will meet you at the base of the covered stairway leading up to the museum, at the southwest corner of the parking lot.
Please arrive at least 10 minutes in advance of your tour time to check-in.
All tours are walking tours and guests must be able to walk and stand throughout most of the tour. The tour will include walking outdoors between campus buildings and multiple sets of stairs.
Your personal vehicle will be required for travel from Cranbrook Art Museum to the final stop on the tour, Smith House. A map and details about parking at Smith House will be provided at the start of the tour.
There are no public restroom facilities at Cranbrook House, Saarinen House, or Smith House; restrooms are available at Cranbrook Art Museum. Tours take place rain or shine, and there is no air conditioning in the homes. To protect the historic integrity of Saarinen and Smith Houses, you will be asked to remove your shoes and wear slippers that will be provided.
For the safety and comfort of all visitors, children younger than eight years old, including infants and toddlers, are not permitted on this tour. Due to the historical status and intimate nature of the houses, many rooms and passageways are very narrow and therefore the houses are not wheelchair accessible.
Only small wallets and handheld cameras are permitted on the tours. Please leave all backpacks, purses, camera bags, camera equipment, and other cumbersome items in your vehicle. This policy was created for the security and protection of our collections of fine and decorative art. Personal photography is permitted on the tour.
Admission includes refreshments.
Advance registration is required as participation is limited. Tickets are non-refundable (but may be transferred to another participant). This tour does not include admission to Cranbrook Art Museum. For more information, please contact Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research at firstname.lastname@example.org. Advance ticket sales close at 10:00am on the Friday before the Saturday tour date.
SPECIAL COVID-19 INFORMATION
Don’t feel well? Stay home. Visitors showing signs of illness will be asked to return at a later date.
Wear a mask. Face masks must be worn by all visitors inside Cranbrook buildings, at all times. Your guide will also be wearing a mask.
Stay 3 to 6 feet apart. Physical distancing is required and will be enforced. Households may remain together.
Be aware of space and people around you. Please be aware of the number of people in each space before entering.
Keep your hands clean. Hand-sanitizer will be available.
Be smart, stay safe. An inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present. Please observe the precautions above!
Photography by James Haefner. Courtesy of Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research.
Smith House interior photography by Brett Mountain for SEEN Magazine. Courtesy of Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research.