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June 02, 2011

Namesakes - Florence Harkness Chapel and Florence Harkness Severance

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Florence Harkness Severance and Harkness Chapel

“Her works praise her in the gates.” So reads the inscription (Proverbs 31:31) on the north side of Harkness Chapel. Based on contemporaneous accounts of her life, the quote is a fitting tribute to Florence Harkness Severance. Her philanthropy benefited the Lend-a-Hand Mission and other charities.

Florence Harkness was the daughter of Anna Richardson Harkness and Stephen V. Harkness. Her father was a prominent Clevelander and an early investor in Standard Oil Co. Her mother was a notable philathropist. In 1894 she married Louis H. Severance, treasurer of Standard Oil and a Western Reserve University trustee. Florence Harkness Severance died less than a year after her marriage, at age 31.

The chapel named in her honor was a gift from her mother, husband, and brother, Charles W. Harkness. It was constructed 1899-1901, with transepts added in 1917. The chapel was only the third building constructed for Western Reserve University’s recently established College for Women. Besides serving as a chapel, the building contained classrooms and study rooms. It was used for assemblies, lectures, concerts, classes, and weddings. Designed by Charles H. Schweinfurth, Harkness Chapel was named a Cleveland Landmark in 1973.

Additional images of Harkness Chapel are available in Digital Case.

Posted by jmt3 at June 2, 2011 07:04 PM

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