Western Reserve Historical Society

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The Hay-McKinney Mansion is part of the Western Reserve Historical Society's complex in University Circle.

The Western Reserve Historical Society (WRHS) was founded in 1867, making it the oldest cultural institution in Northeast Ohio. WRHS is located in Cleveland, Ohio, USA, and is focused on the history of the Western Reserve.


Located in University Circle, an arts and culture district of Cleveland, the Society houses and curates collections of cultural artifacts and documents from various people. The mission of the Western Reserve Historical Society is "to inspire people to discover the American experience by exploring the tangible history of Northeast Ohio."[1] This is accomplished by collecting, preserving and presenting the history of all the people of the Western Reserve. WRHS is a private, membership-based society that also receives funding through investments, grants, and gifts.

Cleveland History Center[edit]

The Society's headquarters in University Circle, styled the History Center, houses several facilities:

  • The Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum houses over 150 vintage and antique automobiles and airplanes.
  • The Euclid Beach Park Grand Carousel, fully restored 45 years after the park closed, opened November 23, 2014.[2]
  • The History Museum has changing exhibits of local history. The History Museum also includes:
    • The Hay-McKinney House, a 1911 home with luxurious turn-of-the-century parlors and living areas designed by Abram Garfield, the son of James A. Garfield.
    • The Bingham-Hanna House, built between 1916 and 1919 on the land neighboring the Hay-McKinney property, Harry Payne Bingham built a 35-room house designed by Walker & Gillette, with a landscape by Olmsted Brothers and featuring ironwork by Samuel Yellin.
    • The Chisholm Halle Costume Wing, houses over 30,000 garments from the late 18th century to the present.
  • The Library and Archives feature over 20 million archives and manuscripts for genealogical research or any aspect of Northeast Ohio history. The institutions significant collections includes the World's largest and most comprehensive collection of Shaker Materials. Other substantial collections include the Civil War and the automotive industry.[3]

Other properties[edit]

The society also owns and operates the Hale Farm & Village in Bath, Ohio and Shandy Hall in Unionville, Ohio. Built in 1815, Shandy Hall is an example of early life and architecture found in the Western Reserve.[4] The society also operates Loghurst, built in 1805 in Canfield, Ohio which is thought to be the oldest residence in the Western Reserve.[5] The society also owned and operated Lawnfield, President James A. Garfield's home in Mentor, Ohio, from 1936, when it was donated by the Garfield family, until 2008, when it was turned over to the National Park Service.[6]


The Western Reserve & Northern Ohio Historical Society formed in 1867, initially as a branch of the Cleveland Library Association.[7] Its first president was Charles Whittlesey, "a geologist and historian". "Originally, the society was located on the third floor of the Society for Savings Bank in downtown Cleveland."[8] The institution first opened to the public in 1871 and purchased the entire bank building in 1892 due to the increasing size of the collections. From 1898 until 1938 the society resided at E. 107th St. and Euclid Avenue. [9] WRHS moved to its present location in the late 1930s.[10]

"By the early 1980s, the Western Reserve Historical Society had become one of the largest private historical societies in the United States. In 1986, its library contained approximately 250,000 books and six million manuscript items."[8][11]

In 2009, WHRS sold 19 of its historic vehicles in an effort to raise money for the organization.[12] As of March 2010, the Historical Society was continuing to sell pieces from its collections to pay down debt obligations, generating ill will in the community.[13]


  1. ^ Western Reserve Historical Society, "Mission and Values," http://www.wrhs.org/about/mission-values/
  2. ^ "Euclid Beach Park Grand Carousel". Western Reserve Historical Society. Retrieved 18 February 2015. 
  3. ^ "Significant Collections". Western Reserve Historical Society. Retrieved 17 February 2015. 
  4. ^ "Shandy Hall in Geneva, Ohio". http://www.wrhs.org/plan-your-visit/historic-properties-2/shandy-hall-in-geneva/.  External link in |website= (help);
  5. ^ http://www.loghurst.org/. Retrieved 2015-2-10
  6. ^ "NPS to Fully Operate James A. Garfield Site" (PDF) (Press release). National Park Service. November 2, 2007. Retrieved February 15, 2015. 
  7. ^ "Western Reserve Historical Society". The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History. Retrieved 18 February 2015. 
  8. ^ a b "Western Reserve & Northern Ohio Historical Society". Ohio History Central. Retrieved 2013-06-09. 
  9. ^ "Western Reserve Historical Society". The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History. Retrieved 18 February 2015. 
  10. ^ "Western Reserve Historical Society". Cleveland Historical. Retrieved 18 February 2015. 
  11. ^ "Western Reserve Historical Society Research Center". Retrieved 2013-06-09. 
  12. ^ Mazzolini, Joan (August 7, 2009). "Western Reserve Historical Society selling off more of its rare cars to erase debt". The Plain Dealer. Retrieved February 15, 2015. 
  13. ^ Mazzolini, Joan (March 7, 2010). "Western Reserve Historical Society sells its history to save institution". The Plain Dealer. Retrieved February 15, 2015. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 41°30′48″N 81°36′37″W / 41.51333°N 81.61028°W / 41.51333; -81.61028