Skip to main content

Cranbrook Lower School Brookside Records

Identifier: 2002-04

Collection Scope

The records in this collection cover Brookside School from its beginnings, as Bloomfield Hills School in 1922, then from 1930 as Brookside School Cranbrook through 2019.

Series I: Governance (1922-1984 contains correspondence, legal documents, and minutes for the Children's School Trust, Board of Trustees, and Board of Directors.

Series II: Administration (1922-2004) provides information on admissions; curriculum; histories; and headmistress/headmaster appointments, correspondence, reports, and resignations.

Series III: Financial (1923-1965) contains appraisals; invoices; Children's School Trust journal and ledger; and reports.

Series IV: Building Records (1929-1998) holds materials relating to the building and additions including the Early Childhood Center, and art objects.

Series V: Parent Organizations (1960-1985) holds a bulk of Parent Council materials with some Dads' Club and Mothers' Club materials.

Series VI: Programs (1929-2018) includes the invitations and brochures for annual and ad hoc school events.

Series VII: Publications (1924-2013) includes all printed materials created by and related to the activities of the school.

Series VIII: Oversize (1922-2009) contains photographic materials, a history of the school collated by John Denio, a financial ledger, and some items of realia.

Series IX: Audio-Visual (1953-2012) includes VHS, audio cassette, and mini-DV formats mostly of performing arts events.


  • 1922 - 2022
  • Majority of material found within 1923 - 1999



Access to the collection is unrestricted.


Permission to use collection materials must be requested in writing.


In 1912, the Booths organized a local school, the Bloomfield Hills Seminary, in the old Parke residence on Woodward Avenue and Lone Pine Road. It served the local community for four years and averaged about 35 students per term. Changing its name to Bloomfield Hills School in 1916, the school closed its doors in 1918. The interest and need in a private school for local children remained and Miss Geraldine Chrome Tritton, Florence Booth's former governess, attempted to meet the need by starting a day school in the Meeting House. This endeavor lasted only a single school year extending over the winter of 1920-1921. In Fall 1921, Tritton continued the school in the Oak Room of Cranbrook House. Among her students were the children of the Booths’ gardeners and chauffeur, as well as Elizabeth Wallace, a Booth granddaughter. The Oak Room school continued through the spring of 1922, along with a Sunday School in the Meeting House. During the spring of 1922, parents gathered to discuss the organization of a new school. Brookside School Cranbrook, originally known as the Bloomfield Hills School, opened its doors on 10 October 1922 in the old Meeting House at the corner of Lone Pine and Cranbrook Roads. Miss Jessie Tilt Winter was the first headmistress and only teacher, and there were eight students. The following year, the Bloomfield Hills School was incorporated, and George and Ellen Booth executed a 15-year lease of the property at $1.00 per year to the school.

During the summer of 1923, George Booth built a two-story fieldstone and half-timbered stucco addition of his own design to the northern end of the Meeting House and had it delightfully decorated in an Arts and Crafts manner. He called upon Detroit sculptor Joachim Jungwirth to carve an elaborate Mother Goose oriel window and grape patterned barge boards for the building and had Katherine McEwen paint the façade overlooking the river. Work was completed on September 15, 1923, in time to serve the 23 children, two teachers, and maintenance man who now made up the school’s student body, faculty, and staff. The Booths teamed with other stockholders to formally incorporate the institution on October 15, 1923. In the summer of 1924, George Booth added the Ram House section to the building, which boasted another elaborately carved barge board by Jungwirth. George and Ellen’s greatest early contribution to the school, however, occurred on June 16, 1925, when they created a Children’s School Trust for the Bloomfield Hills School under the trusteeship of their sons and sons-in-law. The Booths transferred the title of the property to the trust, established an endowment of $100,000 to support school operations, and added a dining room to the school. In addition, the Booths continued to liberally subsidize the school on a month-by-month basis.

From the beginning, it was apparent that growth of the school was imminent. In 1923, a stone-gabled wing was added to the Meeting House in order to accommodate 50 students, and was occupied in January 1924. In June 1925, the Children’s School Trust was created with a Board of Trustees. George and Ellen Booth conveyed the title of the property to the trust, and Mr. Booth also conveyed common stock in the Booth Publishing Co. to a trust at the Detroit Trust Co. This income was to be used for operations of the school. One year later, the Booths deeded property adjoining the school to the Trust in anticipation of future growth.

In 1929 the Cranbrook Foundation proposed construction of a new fireproof building and commissioned Henry Booth to design it. On 8 Jun 1929, the cornerstone was laid for a facility to house 125 students, which Headmistress Winter felt to be an optimal number for the school. The new building opened in the fall with an enrollment of 101 students and co-ed classrooms for kindergarten through sixth grades. After the construction of the Cranbrook School for boys (an upper school) in 1926, plans had evolved to build a similar school for girls. Established in 1929, but with no physical building until 1930, Kingswood School for girls operated for one school year in the Meeting House of the Bloomfield Hills School, where girls in seventh to tenth grades matriculated.

Also in 1929, the Booths imposed a dual-tiered governance system for the school modeled after the one the Cranbrook Foundation created for Cranbrook School. The school’s board of trustees thereafter controlled the school’s physical and financial assets while the management of the school’s operations was placed in the hands of a separate board of directors. The title of the property remained with the Children’s School Trust. The directors were given responsibility for all staff appointments and dismissals, tuition and fees, curricula, and the care of the school’s buildings and grounds. This action was followed by another in 1930 that resulted in changing the school’s name. In deference to the new public school that opened on Vaughan Road under the same name, the Bloomfield Hills School was changed to Brookside School Cranbrook, to reflect its location and affiliation with the other Cranbrook institutions. Brookside School returned to an elementary school with co-ed classes for K-6 grades, beginning the school year with nearly 100 students and 16 teachers.

The first sixty years of Brookside was administered under the steadfast leadership of two heads, Jessie Winter serving for forty years, followed by John Denio. During Denio's tenure, in 1973, the Cranbrook administration reorganized, establishing an educational community with three divisions: Academy of Art, Institute of Science, and Schools. Although each school retained a Headmistress or Headmaster, common administrative services governed them. The Early Childhood Center (ECC) was opened in 1996 under the leadership of President Lillian Bauder.


1922-1961: Jessie Tilt Winter

1961-1982: John D. “Jock” Denio

1982-1985: David Lowry

1985-1986: Keith Shahan (Interim)

1986-1987: Richard Marracino

1987-1988: Johanna “Honnie” McClear (Interim)

1988-1997: Johanna "Honnie" McClear (Head)

1997-2012: Brian Schiller

2012-Present: Keith McConnell


Jessie Tilt Winter
John D. “Jock” Denio
David Lowry
Keith Shahan (Interim)
Richard Marracino
Johanna “Honnie” McClear (Interim)
Johanna "Honnie" McClear (Head)


24 Linear Feet (23 MS, 10 SB, 3 OS)

Language of Materials



After various attempts at a school for young children in the area, the Bloomfield Hills School opened in 1922, occupying the Meeting House owned and built by George G. Booth at Lone Pine and Cranbrook Roads. With subsequent building additions by Booth and his son Henry Scripps Booth, the student body likewise grew from eight students in its first year to 101 by 1929. A private co-ed school for students in grades K-6, the school officially became Brookside School Cranbrook in 1930. Undergoing several financial, governance, and administrative structures throughout the years (many in conjunction with other Cranbrook Schools and Cranbrook Program Areas), and further construction, including the 1995 Early Childhood Center, the school now accommodates PreK-5 students and is known as Cranbrook Lower School Brookside. The collection documents ninety-seven years of the school’s operation from its inception as the Bloomfield Hills School. Governing structures, from various boards and committees, as well as financial administration, especially the Children’s School Trust, are captured in minutes, reports, by-laws, and correspondence. Day-to-day operations are reflected in invoices and ledgers, staff meeting minutes, and some admission and curriculum materials. Activities and events, including special programs, parent groups, fundraisers, and a rich tradition of performing arts are well-documented, including many audio and visual recordings. Materials are particularly strong during the sixty years (1922-1982) of the first two headmasters, Jessie Winter and John Denio, and include several histories of the school. Some records regarding the school’s physical structure and building contents round out the collection.


Cranbrook Lower School Brookside Records collection is arranged into the following nine series:

SERIES I: Governance (boxes 1-4) has four sub-series:

1) Children's School Trust;

2) Board of Trustees;

3) Board of Directors; and

4) Committees,

SERIES II: Administration (boxes 5-6),

SERIES III: Financial (boxes 6-12),

SERIES IV: Building Records (boxes 12-13),

SERIES V: Parent Organizations (box 13),

SERIES VI: Programs (box 13-16),

SERIES VII: Publications (box 16-19),

SERIES VIII: Oversize (box 20-27), and

SERIES IX: Audio-visual (box 28-34).

The collection is arranged alphabetically, then chronologically, except for Series IX which simply lists contents as they were found in the boxes.

Custodial History

Early records were in custody of Jessie Winter after her retirement.


Jessie Winter material donated in 1983. History Report albums compiled by John Denio were donated by Anne Denio Wiley in 1996. All other records were transferred by Brookside School.

Related Materials

Cranbrook Architectural Drawing Collection (1993-10), Series 6 Cranbrook Photograph Collection (2020-03) Bloomfield Hills Seminary Records (1989-53) Cranbrook School Records (1979-06) Kingswood School Records (1980-01) Cranbrook Publications (1995-13) Cranbrook Educational Community, Board of Trustees Records (1990-03) George G. Booth Papers (1981-01) Saarinen Family Papers (1990-08) Henry Scripps Booth and Carolyn Farr Booth Papers (1982-05)

Processing History

Preprocessed by Cranbrook Archives; final processing by Laura MacNewman, 2020.

Guide to the Cranbrook Lower School Brookside Records
Laura MacNewman
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Edition statement
Resource record created by Laura MacNewman.

Revision Statements

  • 2021-03-26: Abstract and history notes revised by Deborah Rice.

Repository Details

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