On October 4, 1923, George Booth committed to building a church; this church later became known as Christ Church Cranbrook. Although Booth made his decision to build in 1923, Christ Church Cranbrook’s conception actually began nearly 20 years before in 1904, when he purchased a one-hundred-acre farm in Bloomfield Township. The purchase of this farmland occurred after Booth and the previous owner, a farmer, came to an agreement, which took nearly two years of negotiations to reach.
In 1904, the same year that Booth bought the farmland, his father, Henry Wood Booth, felt called to start a Sunday School. This service was actually held at the corner of what is now Cranbrook Road and Lone Pine Road. These services led to the Booth family’s realization that there was not a church close by to serve the citizens of the Bloomfield hillsides, and they began discussing the need for a chapel. After deciding to build, Booth planned for the church to be a gift for the community from himself and his wife, Ellen Booth, as well as their five children who contributed to the construction funds.
Many steps needed to be completed before construction began in 1925, and Booth personally completed every step from selecting an appropriate clergyman to obtaining bids from construction companies.
One of these many steps required George Booth to hire an architect firm. The firm that he selected to help construct the church was Goodhue Associates. Although he hired a firm, Booth still played a major role in the plans for the architecture of the church. In fact, some of his own sketches were included in the plans! Booth and the architect firm collaborated and agreed that the church would have a gothic design. Although the architecture of Christ Church Cranbrook is primarily considered English Gothic today, the excellence and diversity of craftsmanship throughout the building showcases Booth’s interest in the British-inspired Arts and Crafts Movement.
On July 5, 1925, Booth dug his shovel into the ground and lifted up a shovelful of clay signifying the beginning of construction of Christ Church Cranbrook. In order to beautify the inside of the church during construction, the Booth family went on a search for talented artisans. At the end of their search, they were able to find several contemporary artists that were able to enhance the church. Two of these artists include Katherine McEwen, who painted the fresco, and Mary Chase Stratton, who created the ceiling of the Baptistry. There is also an exact replica of the Paschal Candlestick that was created after Booth was able to convince the Sicilian government to give him permission to make one.
The church was consecrated on September 29, 1928, with the Booth family, friends, members of the Parish and representatives of other churches in attendance. This day was also the first day that services were held in the church. Many years later, in 1989, Christ Church Cranbrook was designated a National Historic Landmark.
“The skills and dedicated effort of hundreds had brought it to completion. The vision of a few, inspired by the donor’s original idea, had become a tangible expression of the promise and joy of the Christian belief. Now came the time to put it to good use in the service of the Lord”.