BLOOMFIELD HILLS — For the first time ever, the historic home of Cranbrook founders George and Ellen Booth is opening its doors to guests in the winter — a time when the elegant estate is traditionally closed.
What’s more, when visitors come to experience any of the four tours planned at the Cranbrook House through May, they’ll get the chance to view rarely-seen rooms and artifacts usually kept hidden inside the oldest manor in metro Detroit.
The first of the tours, according to Cranbrook House and Gardens Auxiliary Docent Chair Cheryl Becker, will have a romantic theme just in time for Valentine’s Day. Titled “From There to Eternity,” Becker said, the highlight of the first off-season tour will be the recently restored wedding gown of Ellen Booth, which is normally not on display.
“I just picked it up from the cleaners the other day,” said Becker. “It’s exquisite. It’s from 1887. I was awestruck when I saw it.”
Along with the gown, guests of the tour will be able to see the couple’s wedding invitations, Ellen Booth’s wedding shoes and a love letter George gave to Ellen on the day of their nuptials. Visitors will also get an exclusive peek into Ellen Booth’s former bedroom suite on the home’s second floor, yet another historic treasure usually kept from public eyes.
“It’s a combination of taking them into the rooms that have previously been off limits, but it’s also telling a different story,” said Robbie Terman, Cranbrook House docent and archivist. “It’s the story of their courtship, and we haven’t really gotten into that before. How they met, how they got engaged — there’s definitely new material that I don’t think people have heard.”
According to Judy Lindstrom, Cranbrook House and Gardens auxiliary board chair, the price of admission to the tour includes a boxed lunch, a small memento to take home and the opportunity to learn more about one of southeastern Michigan’s most influential couples, who shared more than 60 years of marriage.
“The only thing I can tell you is this is very new. We have not opened the house traditionally during winter months because there were no blooms in the garden,” said Lindstrom, explaining that the summer tours are largely of the estate grounds. “But turning on the lights and having that wonderful winter cast in there makes it so much more atmospheric.”
“From There to Eternity: The Love Story of George and Ellen Booth” will be held at 11 a.m. Feb. 9 and 14. Tickets are $30, or guests can purchase admission to all four winter/spring tours at a discounted price of $100. For more information, call (248) 645-3149 or visit housegardens.cran brook.edu.
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