Monday, January 4, 2010


Assembling my library ... there were several volumes of Cleveland history I had picked up during the 1990s, the heyday of Cleveland history tomes, apparently. I already own the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History, the Encyclopedia of Cleveland Biography, and Fine Arts In Cleveland though I was unaware they were all created by the same people. Duh.

Flipping through Fine Arts in Cleveland: An Illustrated History (The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History, Vol 3) while the kids tumbled off to sleep is a refresher course in theater of the period, so instead I was opening my eyes to areas in which I am weaker, the art museum, the orchestra, and so on.

SEVERANCE, JOHN LONG (8 May 1863-16 Jan. 1936), industrialist. Born in Cleveland, he graduated from Oberlin College in 1885 and returned to Cleveland to work for Standard Oil. In 1899 he was instrumental in founding American Linseed Co., into which Cleveland Linseed was merged. In 1901 he organized and became president of Colonial Salt Co. His other business connections included serving as chairman of the board of Cleveland Arcade Co. and Youngstown Steel Door Co., and as director of Cleveland Trust Co. and Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co.

Philanthropically, he was president of the Cleveland Museum of Art and Musical Arts Association. Besides being a liberal benefactor to the art museum during his life, at his death he left it a collection valued at over $3 million. In 1929 he gave the city $1.5 million to build a concert hall for the Cleveland Orchestra; in 1930 increasing his donation to $2.5 million in memory of his wife, who died in 1929. Severance died childless in Cleveland and is buried in Lake View Cemetery.

- Encyclopedia of Cleveland History
He lived a block from my house, where the big-box-mall Severance Center now stands. His considerable art collection was donated to the museum, a grand fountain from the interior of his home is now a piece of exterior art near the Police Station. Fine Arts in Cleveland says he died penniless.

Looking forward to re-reading: IT CAN'T HAPPEN HERE (playscript)

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