Ohio Biographies

Benjamin Rose

It is the rare good fortune of Cleveland that the character and services of the late Benjamin Rose, as expressed during his residence in this city of fifty years, are perpetuated and continued through visible memorials, one of which at least, the Benjamin rose Institute is one of the noblest philanthropies of the city. A large part of Mr. Rose's wealth went to the founding of this institution, other minor beneficiaries of his will being Lakeside Hospital and a number of relatives. On other pages of this publication will be found an article entitled "The Benjamin Rose Institute" written by its secretary, Irene Brush.

At this point it remains only to tell the story briefly of the career of this eminent Cleveland business man, capitalist and philanthropist. He was born in Warwickshire, England, March 13, 1838, a son of George and Mary (Browning) Rose. He was reared and educated in his native land and in 1848 came to America, first locating at Buffalo, New York, and afterwards at Cincinnati, where he was in the employ of a wholesale provision merchant. From there he came to Cleveland in 1851 and formed a partnership with his brother, George, in the provision business under the name Rose & Brother.  The next year he bought George Rose's interests, and associated himself with his brother Edward as a partner under the same name.  In 1854 the brothers established a business partnership with John Outhwaite, which continued until it was dissolved in 1861. The same year Benjamin Rose became associated with Chauncey Prentiss, under the firm name of Rose & Prentiss. For fourteen years this partnership continued, and in that time the business grew to immense proportions. Mr. Prentiss retired in 1875, and about 1877 Mr. Rose organized the Cleveland Provision Company, of which he became president. He remained the executive head of this extensive business the rest of his life, his successor not being elected until after his death.

Much of the success of Benjamin Rose as a merchant was due to his striking originality and forcefulness in carrying out his plans. It was due to his enterprise and originality that meat in cold storage was first shipped direct from Cleveland to Liverpool, England, by water route all the way. For that purpose he contracted for space, and iced around these spaces on a line of steamers carrying his products from Cleveland to Montreal. At Montreal he had the same arrangements with ocean steamers to which the meat products were transferred. Mr. Rose also organized a special line of cars for cattle and hogs and refrigerator cars to provide for the transportation of the fresh meats and other perishable provisions of the company.

The name Benjamin Rose in fact deserves commemoration in connection with the history of the development of the meat industry in its present form. One of his important contributions was the introduction in 1879 of the first ice machines to be used in packing houses. He also invented a singeing machine to remove hair from the hogs instead of scalding it.

Many thousands of Cleveland citizens not otherwise familiar with the business record of Benjamin Rose have a daily reminder in the great Rose Building, which when it was completed in 1900 was the largest office building in the State of Ohio. Several years before Mr. Rose had developed and executed a plan for constructing a great office building at Prospect Avenue and East Ninth Street, now in the heart of Cleveland's business district. Many advisers endeavored to discourage him from the enterprise. They argued that such a building was far in advance of the needs and standards of the city, and was in a locality out of the direct line of the march of improvement. But Mr. Rose when once persuaded of the feasibility of a plan could not easily be turned aside, and the result was the great office structure which was finished in 1900, and which has in many ways justified his courage and foresight. After that he continued his plans for developing the business section along East Ninth Street, and the last work he did in Cleveland before his death was giving his final approval to plans for the construction of new buildings in that section.

Naturally his business interests and connections were many and important. He was an organizer and director of the Euclid Avenue National Bank, a director of the Citizens Savings & Loan Association, of the Cleveland Terminal & Valley Railroad, was a director of the First National Bank, the State Banking & Trust Company, the Broadway Warehouse Company, the Scott-Griggs Company, the Cleveland Union Stock Yards Company, was a stockholder in the Cleveland Trust Company, and the Central National Bank. The cause of education owes him a permanent debt of gratitude and he was one of the incorporators of the Case School of Applied Science and for many years one of its trustees. He was one of the thirty citizens of the United States who contributed $1,000 each to the Garfield Memorial Fund. He was active in the Cleveland Chamber of Commerce, was a member of the Colonial Club, and a member and vestryman of St. Paul's Episcopal Church. In 1855 Mr. Rose married Miss Julia Still, daughter of Charles Still, of Cleveland. She survived both the children born to their union.

Benjamin Rose died at London, England, June 28, 1908, in his eight-first year. It had been his custom for a number of years to take his annual vacation by a trip abroad to England, the home of his boyhood. In May, 1908, he had started on the voyage, accompanied by his physician, a friend of long standing. Mr. Rose had a large number of friends in London, but his death came suddenly, with only his trusted physician at his side.

The Benjamin Rose Institute

by Irene Brush, Executive Secretary

The Benjamin Rose Institute during the nine years of its existence has become a potent force in the philanthropic life of Cleveland. When Benjamin Rose, an old resident of Cleveland, died in the summer of 1908, he left a remarkable will, generous in its conception, humanitarian in its purposes and far-reaching in its results. After various bequests to relatives, Mr. Rose left his large fortune in the hands of the Citizens Savings & Trust Company as trustee and executor to provide for the founding and maintenance of the Benjamin Rose Institute under the direction of a board of trustees composed of fifteen prominent Cleveland women who should perpetuate the institution. Mr. Rose named women as trustees because he thought them in sympathy with the unfortunate and qualified to determine who should have relief.

The following women were named as the first board of trustees: Mrs. J. J. Sullivan, Mrs. Charles H. Weed, Mrs. J. M. Lewis, Mrs. C.C. Bolton, Mrs. Henry White, Mrs. Peter Hitchcock, Mrs. John Sherwin, Mrs. Ambrose Swasey, Mrs. W. P. Champney, Mrs. Margaret Huntington Smith, Mrs. Harvey D. Goulder, Mrs. Imogene Fisher, Mrs. Lena Lewis Riddle, Mrs. Harry King and Mrs. A. T. Perry.

In the last few years the board has lost by death four of its valued members: Mrs. Ambrose Swasey, Mrs. Harvey D. Goulder, Mrs. Lena L. Riddle and Mrs. A. T. Perry. These vacancies were filled by the election of Mrs. Luther Allen, Mrs. John Teagle, Mrs. John Hord and Mrs. Arthur St. John Newberry.

The Will of Mr. Rose was broadly drawn, making it possible for other philanthropists to add to the fund at any time for whatever special purpose and under whatever name they might desire. Such additions to the fund might bear the name of the donor or otherwise. These bequests could be administered by the board of trustees of the Benjamin Rose Institute. In this way, while the income might be doubled or quadrupled, the increased cost of disbursement would be comparatively small. The ladies of the board serve without remuneration, giving largely of their time and strength to the faithful administration of the noble work which has been left in their hands.

Headquarters of the institute are at 1010 Rose Building.  This is in accordance with Mr. Rose's desire that his own private offices should be used for the work.

Miss Irene Brush was appointed secretary by the board of trustees when headquarters were opened and has remained with the board since that time.

It was Mr. Rose's purpose, as expressed in his will, to provide relief and assistance so far as the income would allow for respectable and deserving needy aged people, mostly of the Anglo-Saxon race, to men of sixty-five years and upwards, and to supply temporary relief to needy crippled children or youth.

The board of trustees is directed to supply and furnish to the aged either at their own homes or at other places of abode or in homes to be established for them such sums or amounts not exceeding the necessities of the case as the trustees deem to be reasonably required. The amount paid to any aged couple living together or to any aged single person shall not exceed $50 per month.

It was stipulated that the relief to crippled children should be in the way of assisting them to receive treatment at hospitals or other places of cure and restoration to health, no child to be provided for for a period exceeding six months, and that not more than one-fourth of the income paid over from the estate should be used for this purpose.

Acting under these provisions the work is carried on. It has come as a blessed relief to many aged couples who were confronted with the possibility of separation, and to many who dreaded institutional life. Those who have known better days are particularly the type which the trust is designed to benefit. The institute does not give relief to the improvident and shiftless. Thorough investigation of each case is made following a formal application. It is not the purpose of the work to relieve children of their duties to their parents. Wherever there are children able to provide they are expected to do so. When one becomes a beneficiary of the institute a monthly check is sent for current expenses. In this way people live in their own homes, rent rooms and de light housekeeping, or board, and few know the source of their income. Relief is limited in the main to residents of Cleveland. The institute is not financially able to assist more than 10 per cent of all those who make application. It is only when vacancies occur that others can be helped. There is always a long waiting list.

There are at the present time between 200 and 300 persons enrolled as beneficiaries of the institute. Four hundred and eleven persons have received assistance during the nine years of the work. Many and varied are the walks of life from which these people have come. Some of the men have been prominent in the business world, in real estate, in life insurance and in various forms of commercial enterprise. Some have followed the professions. Many of the women have been mistresses of pleasant homes in happier years when comfort and plenty abounded. Some have themselves been benefactors to others in years gone by. The fund for the aged which Mr. Rose wisely left for the deserving poor brings an inestimable blessing in the hour of need, whether the recipients be those who through unfortunate investments have lost their property, or those who have often given a helping hand to others and made no provision for their future, or those whose whole lives have been a hand-to-hand struggle with poverty. The work for crippled children was not begun until January, 1911. Lakeside Hospital and Rainbow Hospital were chosen as the two institutions best suited for orthopedic work. Since that time many thousands of dollars have been paid tot he two institutions for surgical care and treatment of over 900 children.

Admission and monthly report cards are furnished the hospitals by the Rose Institute. Before any child is placed on the Rose Fund the admission card, filled out by the superintendent of the hospital, accompanied by a letter recommending the child as a probable curative case for which parents are unable to pay expenses, must be approved by the chairman of the committee on crippled children of the institute board. In this way all crippled children of this great city who meet these conditions are eligible to the Rose Fund.

While the work of physical restoration goes on, the minds and the hands of the children are being carefully trained by special teachers at Lakeside and Rainbow hospitals. Many of these children later attend the Cripple School on East Fifty-fifth Street, well qualified to carry on the work of their grade.

During the year 1917 the work for crippled children was broadened and extended to other fields of operation, including Mount Sinai Hospital on East One Hundred Fifth Street and the Babies' Dispensary on East Thirty-fifth Street. Mount Sinai offers similar facilities to those furnished the Rose Fund children at Lakeside, while children at the Babies' Dispensary receive special massage and electrical treatment paid for by the institute. These are in the main cases of infantile paralysis. Treatment properly and systematically given results in partial or complete restoration of the use of the affected limbs.

While the income at the disposal of the board of trustees is large, it is impossible to estimate in terms of dollars and cents the blessings brought into the lives of many people through this legacy which Mr. Rose left to young and old. His central idea in regard tot he aged was the maintenance of the home. This has been carried out with marked success and satisfaction. Scattered throughout the city in clean and respectable neighborhoods are many homes supported in whole or in part by the institute, homes and not institutions, preserving to the individual that for which all have longed through the ages, the comfort, independence and happiness which only the home life can give.

No gleaming shaft of marble or stately edifice that could be erected to the founder of any philanthropy would be a nobler memorial of a life's work that the living tribute expressed daily in many grateful human hearts.


From Cleveland, Special Limited Edition, The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago & New York, 1918