How you know it: You've likely plunked down a blanket on Wade Oval's lawn during the 63-acre park's free summer concert series or posed for pictures by Wade Lagoon near the Cleveland Museum of Art. Wade Memorial Chapel, designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany and his studios, is a must-visit at Lake View Cemetery. The backstory: In 1882, Jeptha Wade, a founding member of Western Union Telegraph Co., donated the land upon which the Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Western Reserve Historical Society and Cleveland Botanical Garden would one day be built. Wade dabbled in constructing telegraph lines connecting Detroit to Jackson, Michigan, and Buffalo to Cleveland and Cincinnati, before settling in Cleveland in 1856 and merging his lines with several others to create Western Union. In 1857, he built a mansion along Euclid Avenue's Millionaires' Row, where he resided with his wife and five children. Lasting impression: "If you delve into all [Jeptha Wade] gave or did, you would have a book," says Morris Everett, Wade's great-great-grandson, who lives in Cleveland. "The Cleveland Museum of Art, the botanical garden, the historical society — pick one, pick any, pick the whole thing — because it all started with him."
Blossom Music Center
How you know it: What concert haven't you seen here? The 5,700-seat pavilion and outdoor amphitheater has hosted acts from the Dave Matthews Band and Toby Keith to Jimmy Buffett and Justin Timberlake. The backstory: Dudley Blossom, a Yale graduate and attorney, worked as a director or officer for a half dozen local companies during his 59-year-long life. He also served as the Cleveland Orchestra's board president from 1936 to 1938. From 1919 to 1921 and again from 1924 to 1932, Blossom served as the city's welfare director, and he was known as a great philanthropist. The Beachwood building known now as the Hangar was once a private recreational facility and part of his grand estate. Lasting impression: "Dudley was committed to the community and cared deeply about the orchestra," says a family spokesperson in a written statement. "Dudley's legacy continues today with his family's involvement in the Musical Arts Association and numerous nonprofit institutions, as well as through philanthropic support from the William Bingham Foundation."
How you know it: The Beaux Arts home of the Cleveland Orchestra seats more than 1,800 classical music fans and boasts some of the best acoustics in the nation. Not a fan of the symphony? Maybe you've shopped at Severance Town Center, the Cleveland Heights mall originally built in the 1960s. The backstory: Louis Severance, the Cleveland family's forefather, acted as John D. Rockefeller's accountant, treasurer and right-hand man at Standard Oil Co. But Severance Hall is actually named for Louis' son, John (pictured), and his wife, Elizabeth. In 1930, the couple pledged $1.5 million to help construct the $7 million building. A year later, John increased his donation by $1 million in the wake of his wife's death. As construction wrapped in 1931, John was often seen at the building, getting updates from construction workers and taking in the progress. The former president of the Cleveland Art Museum also left the institution a collection valued at $3 million when he died in 1936. Lasting impression: "The Cleveland Orchestra is thankful for the vision, the leadership, the generosity and the legacy that John L. Severance provided to make this orchestra the orchestra we are today," says Gary Hanson, Cleveland Orchestra executive director. "Severance gave us our home, not just for himself, but as a gift to all of Northeast Ohio."
William G. Mather Maritime Museum
How you know it: Built in 1925, the 618-foot-long steamship served as the flagship of the Cleveland-Cliffs Steamship Co. fleet until 1952. The Mather, which became Northeast Ohio's only floating maritime museum May 23, 1991, is permanently moored along the East Ninth Street Pier and operated by the Great Lakes Science Center. The backstory: William G. Mather (pictured) worked at Cleveland-Cliffs for 50 years, inheriting the company from his industrialist and philanthropist father, Samuel Mather. He also served as the first president of the Cleveland Stock Exchange and the president of the Cleveland Museum of Art from 1933 to 1949. In 1908, he built a $1 million mansion in Bratenahl Village, where he lived with his wife, Elizabeth Ring Ireland, who had once been his neighbor. Thanks to his wife's green thumb, the gardens of his Italian villa were as popular as the home itself. Lasting impression: "The name of Mather stands tall in the history of the Western Reserve of Ohio, where the family's influence spread to Cleveland-Cliffs (now Cliffs Natural Resources Inc.), the iron mining and steel industries, and the industrialization and cultural development of the United States," says Patricia Persico, director of global communications for the company.