speech in Chapel by
Dean Emeritus Helen M. Smith
on April 1948,
honoring Flora Stone Mather.
have met today to honor Mrs. Flora Stone Mather who was born
in Cleveland April 1852. Mrs. Bishop, Mrs. Mather’s daughter,
tells us that, “one of her (mother’s) cherished
childhood recollections was Abraham Lincoln’s
visit to Cleveland on the way to his inauguration in
Washington. She proffered him a little bunch of flowers
and received a kiss from him in return.” It
is not of Mrs. Mather’s childhood, however, that
I wish to speak but rather of her varied interest and
especially her interest in this college.
Emerson said “an institution is the lengthened
shadow of one man.” If he could see this college today,
I think he would day this institution is pretty nearly the lengthened
shadow of one woman, Flora Stone Mather.
The buildings on this campus speak eloquently
of here. She gave Guilford House as a tribute to her former teacher
Miss Linda Guildford. Although Mrs. Mather shunned publicity,
she was prevailed upon to speak on its presentation at the College,
principally, I believe, that she might acknowledge her debt and
the debt of the community to the inspiration of Miss Guilford
who taught her girls to seek the things of “supremest worth.”
Mrs. Mather gave Haydn Hall, but delegated the
presentation of it to the College to Mrs. Worcester Warne then
president of the Advisory Council who said Mrs. Mather chose
not to speak for herself.
Mather House was the gift of the alumnae and their friends in
loving recognition of what Mrs. Mather had done for their Alma
Mater. If you will read the bronze tablet at the entrance of
that dormitory, you will see what the givers thought of Mrs.
The Mather Memorial Building was the gift of her
husband and children as a fitting and lasting memorial to her.
Truly this campus speaks eloquently of her.
But the beauty of Mrs. Mather giving was that
she gave so unsparing of herself. She was a frail woman all her
life, yet with the urgent demands of a large house and growing
children, church and community affairs, she found time to make
frequent visits to Guilford House, often staying for lunch with
the sixteen girls who lived there getting acquainted with them
and their needs and the needs to make living there more comfortable
and homelike. She brought flowers and books for the sparse library
and books to individual girls which she thought they might enjoy
She did not forget the interest of the town girls.
She gave Haydn Hall especially so that the town girls might have
a place for relaxation and comfort when they had to spend long
hours on the campus and had no place but the basement of Clark
Hall for other than academic activities.
She brought to the Chapel noted lecturers and
musicians, whom the students might otherwise have seen and heard.
On one occasion she brought, from Boston, Villa White who had
a glorious soprano voice and gave an all-Grieg program. For one
of the students in that audience, interest in Grieg’s music
began on that day.
She was a very wise, understanding and fair woman.
In the early days it wasn’t considered quite
proper for young ladies to go to a down-town hotel without an
escort. Because there were no facilities for serving large number
on the campus, the students decided to go to a hotel for a banquet.
The Advisory Council perhaps wisely objected. One student was
delegated to talk about it with Mrs. Mather. With her usual generosity
she offered to pay the whole expense for a caterer to serve the
banquet on the campus. But when it was pointed out to her that
that would defeat the very purpose of getting the students to
do something for themselves, she said, “I see your point,
go a head with your banquet at the hotel.”
Mrs. Mather never put herself in the foreground.
She worked through other people and never sought credit for her
You have seen that although she gave Guilford
House and Haydn Hall, she put Miss Guilford in the foreground
on one occasion and had another person for Haydn Hall.
President Thwing said she was one of the most
self-less women ever known to him. And yet Mrs. Mather was the
guiding spirit in the many organizations she sponsored. Dr. Haydn
turned to her to make the Advisory Council of interest to the
prominent women who belonged to it. Church organizations testified
to her wisdom in straightening out differences and difficulties
without offending anyone.
Her work with the Home for Aged Women, The Children’s
Aid Society, the Day Nursery Association, the Young Men’s
and Young Women’s Associations, the Welfare Federation,
Goodrich House, struggling schools, churches, and colleges the
country over, much have meant a great tax on her strength and
composure. Dr. Meldrum, her pastor said to her: “Mrs. Mather
it is easier to ask you for a contribution that to thank you
for it” and she replied, “That is as it should be.
It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
Self-effacement was so characteristic of her.
As early as 1898 the President, the Advisory Council, the students
and the alumnae were interested in an appropriate name for the
College. Although a number of names were suggested and rejected,
all agreed upon one name, “but the woman who bore it was
too modest to permit its use.” As Professor Bourne said: “Happily
three decades later it could be made the name of the College – Flora
Mrs. Mather died in 1909. A half–hour service
of utmost simplicity was conducted a the Old Stone Church, where
she had so long worshipped. Then the funeral procession moved
slowly to Lake View Cemetery. At Adelbert College and the College
for Women hundreds of students of the University stood at attention
to pay their last tribute to the one who had done so much for
It is an amazing thing that one so frail could
have lived such a triumphant life, accomplished so much, meant
so much to so many people, to this city and to so many the country
No fonder hope could be entertained than that
this College should express itself, in its students and graduates
the wisdom, graciousness, and understanding that characterized
The Mather Memorial Building
was the gift of her husband and children as a fitting and
lasting memorial to her.
She gave Guilford House as a tribute
to her former teacher
Miss Linda Guildford.
Flora Mather House was the gift
of the alumnae and their friends in loving recognition of what
Mrs. Mather had done for their Alma Mater.
Originally a combination of dormitory
and classroom building, Haydn Hall was given to the college by
Flora Stone Mather.
The building was named in honor of Hiram Collins Haydn,
fifth president of Western Reserve University.
Amasa Stone Chapel.
This dignified Gothic chapel was designed by Henry Vaughn, a Boston architect
who made a career of recreating English gothic chapels in America.
The Chapel was given by Clara Stone Hay, wife of U.S. Secretary of State John Hay,
and Flora Stone Mather as a memorial to their father, Amasa Stone.