Crafting Networks: Detroit's Role in the Building of Cranbrook
Leslie S. Edwards
Cranbrook Archives, Bloomfield Hills, MI, USA
This paper will examine the correlation between architecture and the allied arts by focusing on three arts and crafts buildings at Cranbrook Educational Community (Bloomfield Hills) as a microcosm of the broader Detroit arts and crafts experience. While the contributions of such architects as Albert Kahn (1869-1942) and Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue (1869-1924) were well known, the contributions of the craftsmen and women who brought useful and beautiful workmanship to Cranbrook and the Detroit area were much less publicized. It is clear that the architects benefitted from their work, but how did these architects learn of John Kirchmayer (1860-1930), Katherine McEwen (1875-1957), Henry Chapman Mercer (1856-1930) and others? And, what was the role of the patron in these processes?
I will evaluate the social networks that promoted the spread of usefulness and beauty in the Detroit area, among them the Detroit Architectural Sketch Club (later the Detroit Architectural Club) and the Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts. The premise of the DAC was the advancement of architecture and the allied arts, and leading architects of Detroit including Kahn, George Mason, Wirt K. Rowland and William B. Stratton joined the club. Meetings were held regularly; lectures and exhibitions contributed to the education not only of members but the public at large. This group of architects collectively laid the groundwork for a network of communication between themselves and the Arts and Crafts movement, which flourished through the work of the DSAC.
Examining three arts and crafts buildings on Cranbrook's campus (the Meeting House, Cranbrook House and Christ Church Cranbrook), I will analyze how the social networks between the Detroit clubs (and others like them) enabled architects to fully share resources (the craftsmen) and help further creative intellectual collaboration as well as the principles of the Arts and Crafts Movement.