Did you know? Flora Stone Mather

In honor of Women’s History Month, we are highlighting women who made an impact on Case Western Reserve University and their respective fields.

By Jacey Kepich

portrait of Flora Stone Mather

Flora Stone Mather (1852-1909) was a philanthropist dedicated to Cleveland’s religious, educational and social-reform activities. Today, her name is synonymous with many parts of the Case Western Reserve campus—from the women’s center that bears her name to the quad that’s home to our arts and humanities departments.

Mather actively supported Western Reserve University, including its College for Women, which was renamed Mather College in her honor in 1931. In 1892, she funded construction of Guilford Cottage—known today as Guilford House—followed by funding in 1902 for Haydn Hall. Both buildings functioned as dormitories and were named to recognize her close acquaintances, one for a former teacher, Linda T. Guilford; the other for her pastor, Hiram C. Haydn of Old Stone Church. Her first major gift to the university—$50,000 in 1888—founded the Haydn Chair of History.

Today, Mather Quad is home to the majority of Case Western Reserve’s arts and humanities departments, including art history, Classics, English, history, modern languages and literatures, music, philosophy, religious studies and theater, as well as the Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities. Nearby, inside the Tinkham Veale University Center, is the Flora Stone Mather Center for Women, which opened in 2004 and named in her memory.

But her legacy doesn’t end at Mather Quad. In her will, Mather left funds to complete the Amasa Stone Chapel on the Case Quad, in honor of her father. And beyond Case Western Reserve, she worked actively for and gave generously to local religious and social-reform institutions, including the Legal Aid Society, the Children’s Aid Society, Old Stone Church, Boards of Foreign and Home Missions, Freedmen, Goodrich House and more.

Friends and colleagues attributed such extraordinary generosity to her extraordinary character. “Mrs. Mather’s wisdom was as great as her generosity,” former Western Reserve University President Charles F. Thwing said. “With every gift, she gave herself.”

As another observer proclaimed: “In the history of Cleveland there has never been her like. I am sure that in the future history of Cleveland there will never be anyone to take her place.”

These and other tributes can be found in the compilation prepared by her husband Samuel Mather, available through Digital Case: In memoriam, Flora Stone Mather, 1852 to 1909.