Our History

Image of Mabel A. WoodruffMabel A. Woodruff

The Woodruff Foundation traces its history to the opening of a mental health hospital in 1935 by Mabel A. Woodruff, a World War I Army nurse who became a psychiatric social worker. Appalled by conditions in existing mental health care facilities, she borrowed $800 on her own life insurance, and with funds from friends and supporters, founded a private institution in Cleveland where “one could obtain good care, good food and kindness at the lowest possible cost.”

Ms. Woodruff opened her hospital in the old Higbee mansion on Cleveland’s Ingleside Avenue. It was first called the Ingleside Hospital and retained that name when it moved to the former Severance mansion at 8821 Euclid Avenue in 1937. Shortly after Ms. Woodruff died in 1963, the hospital was renamed in her honor.

By 1968, Woodruff Hospital had increased its capacity from 40 beds to 98 beds and had built a modern facility on East 89th Street, which became the largest private psychiatric hospital in northeast Ohio.

As the needs of patients changed, Woodruff Hospital developed specialized treatment programs to meet those needs. Besides its general inpatient treatment and substance use disorder programs, Woodruff pioneered specialties in dual diagnosis and victimization. The adolescent program, in particular, became widely respected and served as a model for other hospitals locally and nationally.

By the 1980s, however, many local hospitals had mental health programs, and changes in the health care field led the Trustees to develop a new strategy. In May 1986, the licensed beds and mental health programs were transferred to St. Vincent Charity Hospital and Health Center. The six-acre property of Woodruff Hospital was purchased by The Cleveland Clinic Foundation. Proceeds from the sale of the hospital were used to provide the capital to establish the Woodruff Foundation.

The Woodruff Foundation continues the caring tradition of Mabel Woodruff by making grants for programs that address the unmet needs in mental health and addiction in Cuyahoga County, Ohio.