Encyclopedia Of Detroit

Booth, George & Ellen

Detroit publishing magnates and Cranbrook founders George and Ellen Booth were married on June 1, 1887. George Gough Booth was born on September 24, 1864, and Ellen Warren Scripps was born on July 10, 1963. The Scripps family owned and operated the Detroit News. George joined the News staff soon after their marriage, and eventually became the company president.

George began to privately purchase small Michigan newspapers in the 1890s. These were combined with others belonging to his brother Ralph to form Booth Publishing Company in 1914, the forerunner of Booth Newspapers, Inc.

George Booth's contributions to cultural life increased markedly in the years after 1900. He helped to found the Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts and began to donate a considerable number of decorative arts objects to the Detroit Institute of Arts. He encouraged the study of architecture by endowing a travelling scholarship in that field at the University of Michigan and worked on behalf of many national organizations to advance opportunities for American craftsmen and artists.

In 1904, George and Ellen purchased land to build a house in Bloomfield Hills. They hired noted architect Albert Kahn to design their country manor, Cranbrook House. Ellen’s education in the history of fine arts enabled her to advise her husband in his purchases of art objects for their collection. She played an important though less publicized part in the building of Cranbrook.

Believing that their country estate should be given over to a larger public purpose, the Booths shifted their attention after 1922 toward the building of six institutions at Cranbrook: Brookside School for children, Christ Church Cranbrook, Cranbrook School for Boys, Cranbrook Academy of Art, Cranbrook Institute of Science, and Kingswood School for Girls. During construction in 1927, George Booth created the Cranbrook Foundation, a trust that that would be charged with the care, expansion, and upkeep of the entire Cranbrook family of schools and institutions. As their estate grew both in purpose and in scale, the Booths had both noted architect Eliel Saarinen and renowned sculptor Carl Milles in residence for many years.

In 1944, the family deeded the home, its contents and the surrounding property to the Cranbrook Foundation, though they continued living there under a life trust. The Cranbrook House now serves as the administrative center of the Foundation, which is still active today. The Booths had five children: James, Grace, Warren, Henry, and Florence. Ellen Booth passed away on January 24th, 1948, and George passed the following year on April 11, 1949.

 


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