WADE, ELLEN GARRETSON (18 Jul. 1857 - 21 May 1917) was a prominent Cleveland philanthropist and public benefactor during the late 19th century. 

Wade was born on July 18th, 1857 to Ellen Howe Abbott Garretson and Hiram Garretson in Cleveland, Ohio.   

Wade spent her childhood in Cleveland and eventually married Jeptha Homer Wade II in 1878. Jeptha was a highly educated and successful businessman, serving in executive positions in forty five companies. Jeptha is considered to be one of Cleveland’s wealthiest men during the Gilded Age. 

When Wade married Jeptha, she ensured that her family was to be recognized for their philanthropy and charitable commitments. Wade’s most noticeable achievement was helping to found the Cleveland Museum of Art. The museum was a family project between Wade and her husband, Jeptha Homer Wade II, that sought to bring prominence, art, and culture to Cleveland. 

Wade and her husband jointly made decisions about the art acquisition for the museum. Some contributions to the museum were done in Ellen’s name alone, signifying her status as a collector and donator. Wade and her family contributed about 3,000 items to the museum, such as lace and paintings, and made personal contributions to the museum like donating her jewelry collection. In 1916, she gave the museum her embroidery collection, at the time worth $16,000 but $1,000,000 as of 2020. Although Wade was a vital component to the art museum’s establishment, she never assumed an official title or position in the museum’s administration. 

Wade also gave charity to the Cleveland Protestant Orphan Asylum, currently known as Beech Brook. Wade personally contributed financial support and material contributions, such as food, toys, and clothes to the children of Beech Brook. 

Upon her death in 1917, Wade’s husband established a memorial fund in her name worth about $1,000,000. Wade’s left behind a legacy of philanthropy and charitable commitments. Although she and Jeptha were wealthy capitalists, they ensured that their communities benefited from their wealth. From the Cleveland Museum of Art, to her donations to the orphan asylum, Wade was an integral part of Cleveland’s history and continues to be through her trust fund. 

Wade had three children: Jeptha H., Jr., George G., and Helen W. (Mrs. E.B. Greene). Ellen Wade is buried in Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland, Ohio.

Therese Ruane

Article Categories