WADE-GASKILL ENDOWMENT

 
 

Two of our Owego Residents, Minnie B. Wade and her sister, Ida Wade Leonard, who were born at Speedsville, spent their winters for more than twenty years in New York City and their summers in Owego, in their home on the bank of the Susquehanna.  Their brother Louis Wade, was a member of the brokerage firm of James J. Marshall & Company in New York City until his death on March 23, 1931 and was buried in Evergreen Cemetery, Owego.

These three members of the Wade family were children of Benjamin Clifford Wade and Lovicea Foster Gaskill Wade.  Their father was a Captain in the Union Army during nearly four years of the Civil War.

Both Miss Wade and Mrs. Leonard were deeply interested in our Nation’s History and were members of many of the national and New York State Historical Societies.

Prior to the death of Louis Wade, these three persons had agreed that the substantial part of the estate of each would pass to the survivor or survivors and that the last to die should create a trust for the life of Floyd Shryver, upon his death the trust would become the absolute property of some Historical Society of Tioga County as a memorial to the Wade-Gaskill Family.

In the summer of 1940, Miss Wade and Mrs. Leonard attended the annual meeting of the New York State Historical Society in Cooperstown.  Dr. Fox, head of Union College, was then President of the State Historical Society.  Prior to this meeting, they had arranged a conference with Dr. Fox for the purpose of trying to induce the State Society to open a branch in Owego, provided funds were made available for the erection of a museum in Owego.  He did encourage them in leaving funds to our local Society for the erection of a museum.

Mrs. Leonard died on July 19, 1948, Miss Wade died on April 2, 1952.  Both were buried in Evergreen Cemetery. 

In her will Miss Wade bequeathed a portion of her estate to be used by her nephew, Floyd Wade Schryver with the provision that upon his death the residue would be given to the Society for the purpose of constructing a new fireproof museum.  When Mr. Schryver died in 1955, the Society came in to possession of the estate valued at about $479,000 and decided to use the funds to construct a new museum.  Two years later the Society decided to build the museum on the site of the former Norman West residence on 110 Front St.  In an editorial in the Owego Times dated November 15, 1957 some of the reasons given for selecting this site were:  “Central location, no heavy traffic, level ground, trees and landscaping, price well below other sites, the expressed desire of the donor, the late Miss Minnie B. Wade for a central location, within walking distance”. 

Miss Wade in her will, suggested the erection of a museum to be known as the Wade-Gaskill Memorial, but did not make the carrying out of such desire obligatory.  The directors of this Society decided after careful considerations that the erection of a museum would best carry out the desire of Miss Wade and her brother, Louis Wade, and he sister, Ida Wade Leonard.  This site was purchased in 1958 and in the spring of 1959, building operations were started. 

    On April 8, 1959 The Historical Society awarded contracts totaling $180,249 for the construction of a two-story brick and limestone museum and Vincent J. Smith, of Inc. of Binghamton was named the general contractor.  The building was designed by architect Robert T. Bickford of Elmira and the original intention was to construct it in a way to allow for future expansion.  Construction began in the spring of 1959 and the museum was dedicated on   August 20, 1960 with Congressman Howard W. Robison as the keynote speaker.

In as much as a large part of the funds received by the Society originally came to Miss Wade from the Estates of her brother and sister, it was deemed proper that they be recognized on the plaque place at the entrance to the building.

 

The Wade-Gaskill Endowment

Childhood Portrait of Louis Wade

110 Front Street, Owego, NY 13827                                  Phone: 607-687-2460                                Email: museum@tiogahistory.org