Letha House

Born in Ontario, Canada, abandoned by her parents, and somehow managing to arrive in Medina, Ohio, Letha E. Brewster was a philanthropic woman of mystery. She was adopted by George and Fannie Morse, and assumed their last name at a young age. She lived a simple life, marrying William House in 1900 at age twenty. Then her world was expanded greatly.

Letha House was reunited with The affluent Corrigans of Cleveland, the family she never knew. She ventured to Cleveland to meet her Uncle James Corrigan. Letha appeared a great blessing to the family after they had experienced so much grief and tragedy. She was soon included in some of their wills, which is how she quickly became one of Medina County's wealthiest citizens. She maintained her simple, frugal lifestyle, allowing her to give generously. She wanted her money and influence to live beyond her life on earth.

Though Letha passed in 1974, she had established organizations so that future generations of Medina citizens could benefit from her wealth. The Student Loan Trust was founded to help those who couldn't afford to continue to higher level schooling. It was not a scholarship, but a low interest loan so that the money could be recycled to future applicants. This Trust operated from 1963 until 1999. To this day, Cloverleaf and Buckeye School Districts still offer scholarships in honor of a woman who so loved education and wished the opportunity on everyone. The Letha E. House Foundation was created "to create for the community unique, distinctive, and well managed facilities that would otherwise not be available". The money from this foundation helped to restore the Medina Historical Society on Elmwood Street. The Foundation will end only when all the money has been distributed. Finally, the Medina Park Trust was established for the "perpetual preservation of the Park in the Public Square".

Images

Memorial Plaque on the Gazebo

Memorial Plaque on the Gazebo

This plaque resides on the side of the stairs of the historic Medina Gazebo. It commemorates the contributions made to beautify our public square. The Gazebo was just one of numerous gifts derived from Letha's generosity. The details of the Gazebo are very Victorian-esque, and very true to the image Letha possessed for her beloved Medina Square. Image courtesy of Caroline Obermeier View File Details Page

Tragedy on Lake Erie

Tragedy on Lake Erie

On July 7th, 1900, a yachting accident seized the headline of every newspaper in the region. A vicious storm knocked the Idler over and sank her 58 feet below the surface of Lake Erie. The crew survived, as did one passenger named Mrs. John Corrigan. All of the other passengers, which included her nieces, daughters and sister-in-law, perished. As the press continued to follow this tragedy. Letha was informed by her foster mother that these victims were not just random high society strangers. They were her mother's family. As a result, Letha was reunited with her real family, who welcomed her with open arms as a light in their time of darkness. This image is not the Idler itself, but an example of the power of the Great Lakes. It depicts the William H. Truesdale weathering a violent storm in the early 1900s. Image courtesy of the Historical Collections of the Great Lakes, BGSU View File Details Page

Around the Park

Around the Park

The beauty of our Square is the pride and joy of Medina. This is one of several benches that reside throughout the Square, all thanks to Letha House. I discovered that each bench has a plaque, and nearly every single one is dedicated to Letha E. House, with each one having something different to say about her. This particular bench states that "Our Gazebo is her gift", and sits along the center path around the Gazebo itself. Image courtesy of Caroline Obermeier View File Details Page

The Benches

The Benches

This is a series of bench plaques from around the Square. Each one is dedicated to none other than Letha House, and each one remembers her differently. Image courtesy of Caroline Obermeier View File Details Page

The Medina Park Trust

The Medina Park Trust

As Letha described it, the Square was the crown of Medina. Having grown up in Medina, ambling along the streets of the Square and through its many shops , she wanted so desperately to preserve it for future generations. Through her generosity, the park gained a sprinkler system, copper benches, lighting, flower beds on each corner, countless trees, and of course its crowning jewel, the Gazebo. According to the Medina Hospital Women's Auxiliary, the $90,000 used to build the Gazebo was left in her will. The grand Gazebo in the center of the park was designed in close harmony with Victorian architecture of the 1870s and the current Gazebo in Bellville, Ohio. Image courtesy of the Medina County Community Fund View File Details Page

California or Bust

California or Bust

In 2011, a float in the 122nd annual Pasadena Tournament of Roses featured a gorgeous Gazebo that caught the eye of every viewer at home. The city of Downey, CA selected Medina's Gazebo as the "perfect" one for their float. Medina Building Official Jon Parker, who grew up in Pasadena, was invited to assist with the details to make sure the Gazebo was as accurate as possible. The float won the award for the most beautiful non-commercial float that year. It was a proud moment for Medina, and Letha would have been overjoyed to know the influence her generosity had on not only Medina, but on the traditions of a nation. Image courtesy of cleveland.com View File Details Page

Audio

First Impression

Letha House ended life as she began, quietly and with a hint of mystery. Her colleague Charles Clark Griesinger remembered his first impression of Mrs. House. This recollection fits Letha perfectly. She was a puzzle that could not be solved. And that's exactly what she wanted. View File Details Page

Letha House Epitaph

Letha House went from rags to riches. | Source: 2015 - 2016 MHS Sherri Hufford's Junior Language Arts Course. | Creator: Mikayla Anter and Megan Popovich View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Caroline Obermeier, “Letha House,” Discover Medina, accessed March 26, 2017, http://discovermedina.org/items/show/92.
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