Recreating craftsmanship

A Michigan contractor reroofs an HGTV-spotlighted building—the Cranbrook House

Being involved with the roofing industry, you know the importance of stellar craftsmanship whether you are installing the most intricate roof system detail or repairing a leak.

George Gouh Booth also appreciated fine craftsmanship, and his love of the arts and crafts inspired him to create what would become Cranbrook Educational Community (CEC), Bloomfield Hills, Mich. The community is dedicated to art, education and science.

Booth, a former Detroit News publisher, was fascinated by the English Arts and Crafts Movement that started in the late 1800s. This fascination inspired him and his wife, Ellen, to found CEC, which got its start when the Booths' private residence, the Cranbrook House, was built in 1908. Booth asked Albert Kahn, a renowned Detroit architect, to design a house that reflected arts and crafts. The Tudor Revival-style house, which sits at the front of CEC's property, features ornate wood carvings and moldings, decorative copper gutters, a tile roof system, and handcrafted tapestries and tiles and is surrounded by breathtaking gardens. As the Booth family grew, a west wing was added to the house in 1918 and an east wing was built in 1922.

The house originally sat on 40 acres (16 hectares) of land, but the Booths expanded the property to 315 acres (126 hectares) so their arts-and-crafts movement could begin. After World War I, the Booths built a theater, boys school, girls school and church. Since then, CEC has grown to include the Cranbrook Institute of Science, a natural history museum; Cranbrook Art Museum; Cranbrook Academy of Arts, which offers Master of Fine Arts and Master of Architecture degrees; and Cranbrook Schools, which include a co-educational Lower School for kindergarten to fifth grade, Middle School with separate boys and girls programs for sixth grade to eighth grade and co-educational Upper School for ninth grade to 12th grade. The community has been named a National Historic Landmark.

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