Louis H. Severance: Benefactor and Friend
After the 1901 fire destroyed Old Main, one of the businessmen who Presiden Holden contacted for support was Louis H. Severance, the treasurer of Standard Oil and the owner of Union Sulfur. Not only did Severance contribute to rebuilding after the fire, he became a trustee and a life-long friend to the University. As a dedicated Presbyterian, Severance had an interest in Christian higher education before meeting Holden. When he received a letter from The University of Wooster’s president in 1901, Severance offered to pay for the construction of any one of the school’s new academic buildings. Holden asked him to fund the most expensive - the chemistry building. After giving $65,000 for the construction of Severance Hall, he became a member of the Board of Trustees.1 Over the course of his thirteen years as a trustee, Louis Severance contributed more than half a million dollars to the school.2 Holden, who delivered Severance’s eulogy, remarked, “But for him, I doubt very much if the University would have been in existence”.3
1 Nicole C. Cook, “The Ressurection and the Life: The Importance of Louis Severance on the University of Wooster, 1901-1913” (College of Wooster Independent Study, 2000), 12.
2 Lucy Lillian Notestein, Wooster of the Middle West, (Kent: Kent State University Press, 1971) Vol 2., 83.
3 Louis E. Holden, “Eulogy remarks at the funeral of Louis H. Severance,” (June 28, 1913), Severance Family Papers, 1826-1989. Western Reserve Historical Society, Cleveland, Ohio.