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Swanson Associates, Inc. Records

Identifier: 2009-01

Collection Scope

Series I: Personal (1922-1985)

Subseries 1:Correspondence contains letters relating to personal purchases and affiliations, family history, and genealogy.

Subseries 2: Legal consists of wills, trusts, and legal correspondence relating thereto.

Subseries 3: Memorial contains memorials and condolences for Pipsan and Robert.

Subseries 4: News clippings contains articles relating to Pipsan, the Swanson family, and Frances Erickson, a former employee of Swanson Associates.

Subseries 5: Publications

SERIES II: Professional (1940-1983)

Subseries 1: Swanson Associates, Inc. contains correspondence and financial documents (1940-1975)

Subseries 2: Countryside Investment Corporation (CIC)

Sub-subseries Administration contains correspondence, financial and legal documents (1973-1987)

Sub-sbuseries Financial contains financial documents relating to CIC and Pine-Wood

Sub-subseries Legal contains agreements and legal instruments relating to the purchase of the property at Lone Pine Road and Woodward by Jorgensen, Pine-Wood and CIC, materials relative to the design and construction of an office building, as well as documents relative to the preservation of the Lone Pine Inn. This venture led to the creation of the partnership Pine-Wood, Limited (1973-1982).

Sub-subseries News clippings contains articles relating to the purchase of land and the construction of the office building.

SERIES III: Project Files (1924-1977) documents the architectural and interior design projects of Swanson Associates, Inc. and include correspondence, financial documents, bids, notes, and meeting minutes. These records illustrate the working relationship between Bob and Pipsan Swanson, as well as their design choices. In several cases, samples of textiles are included with invoices that show Pipsan’s use of contemporary materials.

Suberies include: Commercial, Competitions, Educational, Industrial, Institutional, and Residential. This series

SERIES IV: Photographic (1924 1977), contains photographs relative to Countryside Design, Inc. (1968-1978), and those specific to the preservation of the Lone Pine Inn and the relocation of the Teahouse building.

SERIES V: Oversize (1929-1975) contains publications and correspondence relating to the architectural design (by Smith Hinchman and Grylls) and construction of the State Capitol Building in Lansing. Pipsan sat on the State Legislative Committee that considered bids for the new building. This series also contains oversize architectural project portfolios as well as loose photographs.


  • 1924 - 1982



Access to the collection is unrestricted.


Permission to use collection materials must be requested in writing.


The architectural firm of Swanson Associates had its beginnings in 1924 when J. Robert F. Swanson and Henry Scripps Booth formed a partnership called Swanson and Booth which terminated in 1926. Swanson then practiced on his own from 1927 until his wife, Pipsan Saarinen Swanson, began working with him in 1929. In 1939, Swanson partnered with Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen and his son Eero to form Saarinen and Swanson, which was renamed Saarinen, Swanson and Saarinen until the partnership was dissolved in 1947, at which time Swanson Associates, Inc. was established. This architecture and planning firm, which incorporated interior design headed by Pipsan, carried out a number of significant projects, primarily throughout Michigan. The philosophy of Swanson Associates, Inc. was the integration of city planning, building design, and interior design. The firm went on to acquire real estate and marketable securities in addition to its operating assets.

From 1945-1967, the Swansons operated their offices at 74 West Long Lake Road, Bloomfield Hills in the old Bloomfield Hills Circle School building. When the firm of Saarinen, Swanson and Saarinen was dissolved, the Saarinens occupied one half of the building while the Swansons occupied the other half. The school building/office was demolished in March 1967. Swanson Associates built a more contemporary building on the same site just a few yards away and retained the old school bell onsite.

In December 1965, Swanson Associates, Inc. split into two affiliated companies: Swanson Associates, Inc. was re-established to manage the operating assets of the architectural and planning division, and Countryside Investment Corporation, Inc. was established to maintain the rental and investment assets. Though she drew no salary, Pipsan Saarinen Swanson was director of Countryside Investment Corporation, whose stock was owned by the Swanson family. Pipsan also formed Countryside Design, Inc. with Vincent Vandenburg.

In 1973, Ludwig Jorgensen negotiated the purchase of the “Lone Pine Inn” at the corner of Lone Pine Road and Woodward Avenue from the Cranbrook Foundation, with the intention of designing and building an office space. Countryside Investment Corporation, Inc. began negotiations with Jorgensen in order to save the historic building, originally the home of Bloomfield’s first postmaster, Ezra Parke, and later owned by George Gough Booth and the Cranbrook Foundation. In February 1975, Countryside Investment Corporation, Inc. acquired the building and the 0.7 acres of surrounding property and trees, to ensure it was excluded from surrounding office building ventures. Pine-Wood, Ltd. managed the leasing of office space in the building from 1975, including space for Countryside Investment Corporation, Inc. offices.

Swanson Associates, Inc. was liquidated in 1978.


17.4 Linear Feet (15 MS, 6 OS)

Language of Materials



Swanson Associates, Inc., an architectural and planning firm that incorporated interior design, was established in 1947 by J. Robert F. Swanson and Pipsan Saarinen Swanson. In December 1965, it split into two affiliated companies, Swanson Associates, Inc., and Countryside Investment Corporation, which managed rental and investment assets. Pipsan was its director and the Swanson family owned its stock. In 1973, Ludwig Jorgensen negotiated the purchase of the Lone Pine Inn from the Cranbrook Foundation to design and build an office building in its place. Countryside Investment Corporation negotiated to save it (it was the historic home of Ezra Parke, first postmaster). They acquired it in February 1975 and Pine-Wood, Ltd., was created to manage leasing of office space. Swanson Associates, Inc. was liquidated in 1978. This collections contains personal correspondence, legal documents, memorials, clippings, and publications. It also documents the professional life of Swanson and Pipsan comprising the correspondence, legal, and financial materials of Swanson Associates, Inc. (1940-1975), and Countryside Investment Corporation (1973-1987). There is an extensive project files series, covering commercial, competitions, educational, industrial, institutional, and residential projects. The photographic series includes photographs of architecture and design (1924-1977); Countryside Design, Inc. (1968-1978); the preservation of Lone Pine Inn, and the relocation of the Lone Pine Inn teahouse. Oversize materials relate to architecture and design, as well as Pipsan's involvement with the State Legislative Committee for the construction of the new State Capitol Building.


This collection is divided into five series: Personal (boxes 1-2); Professional (boxes 2-3); Project Files (boxes 4-12); Photographic (boxes 13-15); and Oversize (boxes 16-21), some of which are also further divided into subseries and sub-subseries.

SERIES IV: Photographic is arranged by architectural and design projects

Additional Access

An index to the collection is available. Arrchitectural drawings not listed in the finding aid are cataloged.


Gift of Ronald Saarinen Swanson

Related Materials

J. Robert F. and Pipsan Saarinen Swanson Papers (1990-01)

Saarinen Family Reproductions Records (1990-01)

Benedict House Records (2009-01)

Saarinen Family Papers (1990-08)

Saarinen/Swanson Reunion Records (2001-14)

Separated Material

Architectural and furniture drawings were transferred to the Cranbrook Architectural Drawing Collection.

Processing History

Processed by Leslie S. Edwards and Laura MacNewman in April 2017

Guide to the Swanson Associates, Inc. Records
Finding aid written by Leslie S. Edwards and Laura MacNewman.
April 2017
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Edition statement
Resource record created by Laura MacNewman

Repository Details

Part of the Cranbrook Archives, Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research Repository