Midwest Living Review
Built by renowned Finnish-American architect Eliel Saarinen, the Saarinen house sits on the grounds of the Cranbrook Art Academy where Saarinen once served as president. The academy is located within an educational community that is home to a science museum, a respected independent school and a church. Filled with impressive contemporary sculpture and set on about 100 acres of rolling land, it is a vibrant source of artistic creativity. Though Saarinen died in 1950, his house was restored only recently. The 1920s brick rowhouse can only be viewed Thursday through Sunday during guided tours at 2 p.m. The tour includes a mile-long walk to the house. Once inside, visitors cannot touch the austere furnishings, notably the custom rugs and furniture, and must wear booties to protect the floors. While the gardens were once lovely, they have not yet been restored. The tour turned out to not be for casual travelers. When we called ahead of time and asked about walking and the level of difficulty, we were told it was short and easy. But when we arrived, the docent let us know that it was a mile-long, hilly walk. It also is a precarious tour for those with joint or balance issues because the stairway to the upper floor has no railing. The dining room, with a gold domed ceiling and an elaborately engraved table, is the tour highlight. The highly detailed two-hour tour (and ours started half an hour late) is a long time in a house that is only about 2,000 square feet. This is not a tour for children, or for anyone who is not a serious architectural student. $10 fee.