Notable People

Charles Bingham - President of Wm. Bingham & Co.

12219 Lake Shore Boulevard
Charles William Bingham
Charles William Bingham

Charles Bingham was widely known as a financial figure and a Cleveland philanthropist. He was one of the oldest trustees of the Western Reserve Historical Society, which he endowed with a $100,000 fund.

Charles William Bingham was born in Cleveland on May 22, 1846, the son of William and Elizabeth Bingham. He was raised at 3033 Euclid Avenue until age twelve when his family built a new home at 2843 Euclid Avenue. He attended the Cleveland Academy and, later, the New Haven Hopkins Grammar School. He entered Yale in 1864, where he mastered Latin, Greek, French, and German before graduating with a B.A. degree in 1868.

After Yale, Bingham spent three years in Europe, studying geology, mining, and chemistry in Germany and mastering France's language and customs. He was caught in the Franco-Prussian War activities and at one point was fired upon near the Pantheon.

When he returned in 1870, he studied for and was granted an M.A. degree from Yale in 1871. He began working in the Flats at the Cleveland Iron Co., of which his father was president.

Also, in 1871, Charles began courting Mary Perry (Mollie) Payne, who lived at 2121 Euclid Avenue. She was born on July 9, 1854, to U.S. Senator Henry and Mary Payne. When Mollie was thirteen, she went off alone to live with her private tutor in Newburgh, New York. Her days were busy and challenging, but her nights were often too quiet. She missed her family and often cried herself to sleep. Her loneliness deepened when she journeyed the next year to Dresden, Germany, to continue her private studies.

Charles and Mollie's courtship tested the patience of the two young lovers, who yielded to their parents’ counsel to wait an extra year. Molly was slower to come to her love for Charlie, but when she did, she “absolutely worshipped him for the very depths of her soul and heart.” They were engaged in February 1876 and married on June 8, 1876. They spent their honeymoon in Hamburg, Germany, and Stockholm, Sweden.

In 1879, Charles joined William Bingham & Co., one of the Midwest’s largest hardware concerns founded by his father and Henry Blossom. He became president of the Standard Tool Company, a subsidiary of the William Bingham & Co., and he became president of William Bingham & Co. in 1912.

Bingham’s philanthropic interests were widespread. From 1892 until his death, he was a trustee of the Western Reserve Historical Society. He served as the treasurer of the Case Library and president of the Case Library Association.

He was one of the original trustees appointed under John Huntington's will to conduct the Huntington Art & Polytechnic Trust and was trustee and president of the Horace Kelley Art Foundation. He became chairman of the joint building committee representing the two trusts in the construction of the Cleveland Museum of Art. He was an original incorporator and trustee from 1913 to 1920.

Bingham was a trustee of the Lake View Cemetery Association, Bingham was also a trustee of the First Presbyterian (Old Stone) Church.

Mollie died on January 20, 1898, in West Palm Beach, Florida. Charles died suddenly of a heart attack on March 1, 1929. Both were buried in Lake View Cemetery.

Charles and Mollie had five children: Oliver Perry, born on January 1, 1878; William H. II, born on July 21, 1879; Elizabeth Beardsley (Blossom), born on September 29, 1881; Frances Payne (Bolton), born on March 29, 1885, and Henry Payne born on December 9, 1887. Francis Bolton went on to become a U. S. congresswoman.