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Cranbrook Foundation Office Records

Identifier: 1981-05

Collection Scope

Series I. Administrative (1927-1973): Included here is correspondence (both outgoing and incoming) from George G. Booth (chairman of the Foundation from 1927-1949), from Executive Directors, Harry S. Booth and Edward Lerchen, and with the Trustees. Also included are the minutes of the meetings of the Trustees, as well as correspondence regarding various members of the Foundation staff, including the Secretary and the educational consultant. Subseries 4: Office Administration has been arranged in five sub-subseries: Organization, Gifts, General Office Files, Legal, and Planning.

Series II. Departments (1925-1980): This series consists of the early areas that the Foundation oversaw, with the exception of the Institutions. These include accounting, building and grounds, maintenance, the Police and Fire departments, Cranbrook Photo (until 1939 when it fell under the Academy of Art), the Cranbrook Homestead, and the Foundation office. Additional departments included Guard and Patrolling Services, Jonah Swimming Pool, Architectural and Building Services, Rental Property and the Greenhouse. The departments generally remained in place until 1943 when the Cranbrook Central Committee was formed as a Division, and several of the departments fell under the supervision of the Committee.

The CAO was a separate department until May 1930 when all bookkeeping was assumed by the Foundation. For ease in use, all CAO records have been included in this series. In some instances, records relating to departments were filed by office staff and remain as topical files.

Series III. Divisions (1919-1981): This series includes several offices/committees that were established at Cranbrook in an attempt to centralize services.

Subseries 1, the Cranbrook Academy of Art (CAA), was formed in 1932 as a division of the Foundation. The records in this subseries relate to all issues pertaining to the Academy until it became a separate trust institution in mid-1942. Some records post-date 1942 as it was more logical to maintain a group of records than separate them by date. By and large, most pre-1942 records have been removed from the CAA Records of the Administration (1998-05) and housed here, with the exception of Academy student announcement catalogs and publications, such as the Academy News. In addition, the Art Collection Purchase records (formerly G88) have been added to this series. On 28 Nov 1927, George Booth donated an art collection to the Foundation and a purchase account was opened. In May 1942, the collection was given to the Academy of Art, however the purchase account remained open to record gifts from the Booths and a few purchases that were subsequently given to the Academy. This subseries consists of eight sub-subseries: Administrative, Financial Records, Art Collection, Correspondence, Evens, Exhibitions, Publications, and Topical.

The second through sixth subseries contain records regarding the various central organizations that were created to support the Cranbrook institutions from 1929 through the early 1970’s. Each organization was developed to address the changing non-academic needs of the institutions it was designed to serve. Outside consulting firms were used on two occasions to analyze the administrative structure of the institutions and to make recommendations for organizational improvements: Cresap, McCormick and Paget in 1960 and Heald, Hobson and Associates in 1969. The findings of the Cresap Report lead to the creation of the Cranbrook Central Services Commission (CCSC) in 1963. This report and all correspondence regarding it are included in the CCSC subseries. The Heald Report was commissioned by the Foundation in 1969 to review the organizational arrangement of Cranbrook’s institutions and eventually lead to the dissolution of the Foundation. The Heald organizational study, related correspondence, and recommendations, are included in the Cranbrook Central Business Office subseries.

1929-1931 Cranbrook Association

1943-1952 Cranbrook Central Committee (Paul Friedrich, Executive Secretary)

1963-1966 Cranbrook Central Service Commission (Arthur Wittliff, General Mgr)

1966-1967 Cranbrook Service Advisory Council

1967-1973 Cranbrook Central Business Office (Ed Lerchen, Executive Director)

Subseries 2. The Cranbrook Association, was short-lived just lasting from Jun 1929 to Oct 1931, and was formed as an advisory organization and counsel to the institutions and the Cranbrook Foundation through the Boards of each institution. The Foundation appointed a Chairman of the Board for the Association.

Subseries 3. Cranbrook Central Committee, was formed in Jul 1943, with an Executive Secretary, Paul Friedrich. The two primary functions of this committee was the supervision of common utilities and maintenance, and public relations for all of Cranbrook. The Cranbrook Central Committee was replaced in 1952 by the Public Relations Department, and in 1960, a Public Relations Advisory Council was formed. (By 1966, the Public Affairs Office replaced the P.R. Department and the Advisory Council, and had its offices in the Academy Administration building, functioning as part of the Central Business Office).

Subseries 4. Cranbrook Central Service Commission was formed in Apr 1963 with Arthur Wittliff as the General Manager. It was organized by the Foundation to perform non-academic functions, and was a semi-autonomous division of the Foundation which kept separate records and books. When the Public Relations Department was formed in 1952, the supervision of maintenance, buildings and grounds, and utilities fell under the auspices of the Foundation. In Jul 1964, the Cranbrook Central Service Commission assumed responsibility for the Fire and Police departments, utilities and the Cranbrook Press.

Subseries 5. Cranbrook Service Advisory Council was established in 1966 to fulfill some of the functions of the Central Service Commission, but only lasted until 1967 when the Cranbrook Business Office was formed.

Subseries 6. The Cranbrook Central Business Office (CCBO). In May 1967, the Foundation Board of Trustees adopted a resolution pertaining to the centralization of non-academic affairs. The Cranbrook Central Business Office was managed by the Executive Director, Ed Lerchen, and had six divisions: Controller, Purchasing and Personnel, Plant Services, Food Service, Public Relations and Educational Services. In addition, the Central Business Office had its own administration which included the central telephone and switchboard services and supervision of swimming on campus. The records in the following five sub-subseries have been arranged topically and chronologically for ease of use. Some records date from prior to the establishment of the CCBO, as noted below.

Sub-subseries A: Educational Services Division encompassed the Central Library (formed in 1964), the Archives (formed in 1966), and an Audio-Visual Center. These were located at Cranbrook House until the Central Library was transferred to Cranbrook School c1972. The Archives truly began as early as 1936 in the basement of Cranbrook House under the supervision of Helen McIlroy.

Sub-sub-series B: Personnel, contains records relating to Foundation employees, salary studies and benefits packages from 1955-1972.

Sub sub-series C: Plant Services-Buildings Maintenance contains records pertaining to skilled trades, and maintenance of the institutions and rental buildings from 1966-1973. Prior to the formation of this office, O.D. “Red” Hillman was in charge of the Building, Maintenance and Construction Departments, while Dominick Vettraino was in charge of the Grounds, Security and Utility Departments.

Sub sub-series D: Plant Services-Grounds Maintenance includes all transportation, security and utilities records. For ease in use, the Cranbrook Police and Fire Department (post 1950) records have been arranged in this series.

Sub sub-series E: Public Affairs, contains the records of all publicity efforts of the Foundation, including publications. For ease of use, all Public Relations records are contained in this subseries, even though the Public Affairs Office was not formed until 1966. The records in this subseries include publicity studies and efforts as early as 1935.

Series IV. Cranbrook Institutions (1926-1972): This series includes six subseries: Brookside School, Christ Church Cranbrook, Cranbrook School, the Institute of Science, Kingswood School and Trust Documents. Trust documents as well as related records for all institutions are included in the Trust Document subseries. Note, a large number of records pertaining to the trust documents were incorporated from the Lerchen Papers.

Series V. Auxiliary Organizations (1942-1972): This series is comprised of a variety of organizations that were supported financially by the Foundation, or used Foundation buildings or grounds for their activities.

Series VI. Events (1935-1972): This series relates to a variety of events that were held under the auspices of the Foundation.

Series VII. Property (1927-1973): This series includes one subseries, Real Estate, which the Foundation owned during its’ 46 year history.

Series VIII. Oversize (undated): This series consists of Cranbrook employee file cards.


  • 1926 - 1973



Access to the collection is unrestricted.


The Cranbrook Foundation (chartered 30 Jun 1955) was a trust and administrative entity established 28 Nov 1927 by George Gough and Ellen Warren Scripps Booth to endow and support the six institutions they founded: Brookside School Cranbrook, Cranbrook School, Kingswood School Cranbrook, Cranbrook Academy of Art, Cranbrook Institute of Science, and Christ Church Cranbrook. The initial mandate of the Foundation was to “add to and strengthen the educational and cultural facilities within the State of Michigan”, and to carry out certain Booth projects. The trust indenture mandated that the Trustees shall “hold, manage, care for, and control the cash and securities, and the properties” in the trust. Initially, this included 50,000 shares of the Class B preferred stock of the George G. Booth Corporation, the portion of the estate known as Cranbrook, and George Gough Booth’s art library and collection of art and architectural objects that were housed at the Architectural Office Building.

When the Foundation was formed in 1927, it was resolved that the Foundation continue the operation of the Cranbrook Architectural Office, and that the chairman, George G. Booth, be authorized to purchase objects that he deem suitable to add to the permanent collection of the Foundation. The Trustees immediately began discussing plans for the building of a girl’s school.

One of the original purposes of the Cranbrook Foundation was to provide for an Academy of Art, the nucleus of which already existed in a group of artisans who had been gathered together by George Gough Booth. During the construction of the other Cranbrook institutions, consideration was not given to the formation of an Academy until most of the work was completed. However, by 1932, the Academy was organized with a few students who were accepted as apprentices to the architects and artists. Instead of deeding the property to the

Academy, the Foundation kept the title, and the property was leased to the Academy Trustees for $1 per year. The Administration Building was built as a headquarters for the Foundation’s general office, in order to separate it from Academy offices. The Cranbrook Academy of Art was run by the Cranbrook Foundation until 1941. The Photography Department was under the Academy of Art from 1939-1943, when it then fell under the auspices of the Cranbrook Central Committee, and finally was under the direction of the P.R. Dept.

Ultimately, the Foundation maintained necessary services and utilities for the various institutions, sharing appropriate costs with them, and granting low interest loans as needed. The Foundation was administered by an office staff working under the authority of a Board of Trustees. The office was operated from several locations throughout its existence.

During the existence of the Foundation, its office occupied space in several buildings. The first office was on the ground floor of the Academy of Art Administration Building.

· 1927-Jun 1929 - The Detroit News, (accounting only)

· 1929-1930 - the Cranbrook Architectural Office, (first floor of north and south wing, Administration Building)

· Jan 1931 - the Cranbrook School headmaster’s residence (planned for Dr. Stevens)

· May 1931-Jun 1933 - the new Cranbrook Academy of Art Administration Building

· Jun 1933-1935 - 2500 Buhl Building, Detroit

· 1935-1942 - Cranbrook House, George Booth’s former office suite in the south end of the west (library) wing (with file rooms on the second floor)

· 1942-c1970 - the Cranbrook Academy of Art Administration Building, second floor (formerly the Art Library)

· Jul 1966-1973 - Cranbrook House (Board Chairman office only)

· c1970 – the Foundation Office moved to Cranbrook House, remaining there until its dissolution in 1973

By 1962, the Foundation Office was responsible for all bookkeeping and record keeping for property accounts, scholarship and special funds for the schools. Investments for all the Institutions were also handled by the office. Secretarial functions were handled by office staff, including typing and mailing minutes for all Board of Trustees. The Institutions, in turn, paid an annual fee to the Foundation for these bookkeeping and secretarial services. The Cranbrook Photo Department provided commercial photographic service to all of the Institutions, and even did some outside work for the Bloomfield Hills and Birmingham police departments.

Utilities, including water and electricity, were maintained by Foundation maintenance staff. The Fire Department (in 1962) had eleven volunteers residing on campus, and was under the supervision of the Foundation. All secretarial and bookkeeping for the Press, Photo and Utilities were provided by the Foundation at no charge. The institutions were billed an annual service fee for maintenance of the utilities.

Chairmen/Directors of the Cranbrook Foundation:

1927-1949: George G. Booth, Chairman

1949-1972: Henry S. Booth, Chairman

1946-1965: Henry S. Booth, Executive Director

1965-1973: Edward H. Lerchen, Executive Director


20.7 Linear Feet (49 MS, 1 OS)

Language of Materials



The Cranbrook Foundation was established on November 28, 1927, by George Gough Booth and Ellen Scripps Booth. It was a trust and administrative entity to endow and support the six institutions that George and Ellen had founded: Brookside School Cranbrook, Christ Church Cranbrook, Cranbrook Academy of Art, Cranbrook Institute of Science, Cranbrook School, and Kingswood School Cranbrook. It's initial mission was, "to add to and strengthen the educational and cultural facilities within the State of Michigan." While the other five institutions were created as independent institutions, the Academy of Art (established in 1932) was owned and run by the Cranbrook Foundation until 1941. The Cranbrook Foundation maintained necessary services and utilities for the institutions, sharing the costs with them. It was administered by an office staff working under a Board of Trustees. The institutions paid an annual fee for bookkeeping and secretarial services and an annual fee for utilities and maintenance. The collection includes the administrative records of trustees, staff, committees, and administration; departmental records documenting accounting, building and grounds, police and fire services, Cranbrook Central Committee; divisional records including the Academy of Art, Cranbrook Association, Cranbrook Central Committee, Central Service Commission, Service Advisory Council, and the Central Business Office; institutional records including the Trust documents and related records for Brookside School Cranbrook, Christ Church Cranbrook, Cranbrook School, the Institute of Science, and Kingswood School; auxiliary and event materials; and property records pertaining to Cranbrook Foundation real estate.


The bulk of this collection has first been arranged alphabetically, then chronologically. In some instances, notations of original file headings can be found on some of the documents and every attempt has been made to adhere to this order when possible. Due to the constantly evolving structure of the Foundation and its many departments and divisions, the records have primarily been arranged chronologically in the sub-series from which they grew. In some instances, records have been arranged in the sub-series in which they ultimately resided. For this reason, dates may not always correspond with the dates of the office of origin.

The collection is arranged into eight series: Administrative (boxes 1-13), Departments (boxes 13-17), Divisions (boxes 17-42), Cranbrook Institutions (boxes 42-46), Auxiliary Organizations (boxes 47-48), Events (box 48), Property (box 49), and Oversize (Box 50).

Series I: Administrative is futher arranged in four subseries: Board of Trustees Foundation Staff Committees Office Administration

Series II: Departments is futher arranged in three subseries: Building and Grounds Cranbrook Architectural Office (CAO) Cranbrook Homestead (includes Cranbrook House and Gardens and the Greek Theatre)

Series III: Divisions is further arranged in six subseries. Subseries 1: Cranbrook Academy of Art is further arranged in eight sub- subseries. Subseries 6: Cranbrook Central Business Office is further arranged in five sub-subseries.

Additional acces

An index to the collectioj is available.

Custodial History

In 1938, several boxes of George Gough Booth’s records pertaining to the Foundation were transferred to the Foundation, and occasionally, Booth added to them.


Transfer from the Cranbrook Foundation

Related Materials

Cranbrook Foundation Executive Secretary: William A. Frayer Records (1980-04)

George Gough and Ellen Scripps Booth Financial Papers (1981-02)

Cranbrook Foundation Financial Records (1981-05)

Helen McIlroy Papers (K-798)

Cranbrook Architectural Office Records (1989-01)

Institute for Advanced Pastoral Studies (1979-05)

Cranbrook Foundation Office of the Controller (1980-03)


Cranbrook Foundation Financial Records were separated as a separate record group and is currently unprocessed.

The records of the Office of the Controller were previously processed as a separate collection.

The records of the Director of Food Services have been removed from this collection to be processed separately as they pertain primarily to the Schools.

Processing History

Some portions of this collection were initially inventoried by Beverly Hoffman, Feb 1981. A larger portion of the collection was inventoried and processed by Judith Kirsch and Greg Trendowski, spring, 1990. Additions and changes were made by James M. Luzenski in May of 1991. From 2003-2004, Leslie S. Edwards collected the remaining records, incorporated them, and re-processed the collection. The finding aid was revised to reflect the changes. An additional review of the records with updated indexes was completed in 2012 by Nancy Yee.


Guide to the Cranbrook Foundation Office Records
Finding aid written by Judith Kirsch and Greg Trendowski
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Edition statement
Resource record created by Laura MacNewman

Revision Statements

  • 1991: Additions and changes made by James M. Luzenski
  • 2004: Additional materials incorporated and collection reprocessed by Leslie S. Edwards
  • 2012: Review of finding aid and updated indexes by Nancy Yee

Repository Details

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