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The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

DRURY, FRANCIS EDSON - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

DRURY, FRANCIS EDSON (20 Aug. 1850-3 April 1932) earned a fortune from the manufacture of stoves and dedicated a good part of it to Cleveland's cultural institutions, notably the CLEVELAND PLAY HOUSE. He was born in Pittsfield, Mich., the son of DeWitt and Sarah Dimmick Drury. Entering the hardware business after a public school education, he invented the first internal gear lawnmower while employed in Springfield, O. He brought his invention to Cleveland in 1870 and arranged for its manufacture by the Taylor & Boggis Foundry Co., becoming the firm's vice-president and general manager. Drury married Frances Perkins of Michigan in 1872 and, following her death, married Clevelander Julia Robinson in 1882. He joined H.P. Crowell of Chicago in organizing the Cleveland Foundry Co. in 1888 to begin the manufacture of oil heating and cooking stoves. The company's fortune was assured when the Standard Oil Co. (see BP AMERICA) undertook to market its product in an effort to increase the consumption of its surplus kerosene. It became the Cleveland Metal Products Co. in 1910 and the Perfection Stove Co. in 1921, by which time it was the largest manufacturer of its kind in the world. In 1910 Drury built one of the last mansions on EUCLID AVE. at the northwest corner of E. 87th St., also acquiring the old Ammon estate across Euclid to indulge his hobby of landscape gardening. In 1916 he invited the newly organized Cleveland Play House to use the Ammon property for its first productions, and in 1925 he donated a portion of the property for a permanent theater. One of the Play House stages is named in his honor. Though the Drurys moved from the Euclid Ave. mansion by 1926, they had a replica built in GATES MILLS, where it was eventually acquired by GILMOUR ACADEMY. Drury was also a founder of the CLEVELAND MUSIC SCHOOL SETTLEMENT and a benefactor of the CLEVELAND ORCHESTRA, Western Reserve University, and Case Institute of Technology (see CASE WESTERN RESERVE). He died in Augusta, Ga., and was buried in LAKE VIEW CEMETERY, survived by his 2nd wife and a son from his first marriage, Herbert R.

Last Modified: 10 Jul 1997 05:11:09 PM

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