News and analysis
February 06, 2012

No. 9: Arthur G. and Margaret B. Glasgow

Amount donated in 2011: Approximately $125-million

Biggest beneficiary: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

Other top beneficiary: Virginia Commonwealth University

Donors’ background: Mr. Glasgow was a co-founder in 1892 of Humphreys & Glasgow, an engineering company in London and New York that built gas plants.

When the couple died in the 1950s, they left about $70-million to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, in Richmond, an amount paid when their estates were settled in 2011. Of the total, $60-million will endow art acquisitions, and the remaining $10-million will help pay for the museum’s recent expansion.

Ms. Glasgow was born in Richmond to a prominent banking and investment family, and her husband was born in Botetourt County, Va. The couple’s families were early supporters of the museum when it was first established in the 1930s. The couple lived most of their lives in England and Palm Beach, Fla., and had little direct involvement with the museum beyond leaving some paintings to the institution when they died. Still, their family ties to Richmond were deep-rooted. When they drew up estate plans more than 60 years ago, they left instructions in their wills that their charitable gifts should primarily benefit Richmond organizations, such as the museum and others.

To that end, the Glasgows left roughly $45-million to Virginia Commonwealth University. In their will, they stipulated that the money should be used to support “the cure and prevention of cancer and other degenerative diseases.” University officials said the only relationship they could uncover between the donors and the institution dates back to 1909. That year, Margaret Glasgow’s father opened a bathhouse, and today the facade fronts the university’s Gladding Residence Center. In addition, a university library was named for a cousin, James Branch Cabell.

The couple also left a total of $10-million to 13 other nonprofits, 10 of which are in Richmond: Children’s Hospital of Richmond; the Historic Richmond Foundation; the Jenkins Foundation, a medical organization; Richmond Memorial Health Foundation; Second Presbyterian Church of Richmond; Sheltering Arms Hospital; St. Paul’s Church of Richmond; Virginia Healthcare Foundation; the Virginia Home, a nursing home; and the Virginia Historical Society. The remaining three groups include Wabash College, in Crawfordsville, Ind.; Washington and Lee University, in Lexington, Va.; and the Stevens Institute of Technology, in Hoboken, N.J.

The Glasgows originally established their bequest plans with a fraction of what their estate eventually gave out last year. In 1960, their two trusts together held $8.9-million in bonds, cash, and stocks. The estate was set up so that the organizations would not receive the money until the death of the couple’s last living heir—their son-in-law, Ambrose Congreve, who died in London last year at 104. Mr. Congreve was married to the Glasgows’ only child, Marjorie, and was famous for the extensive formal gardens he built and nurtured at Mount Congreve, his family’s 18th-century estate in County Waterford, Ireland. He ran Humphreys & Glasgow until 1983, when he sold the company.

—Maria Di Mento

View more profiles of donors who gave the most in 2011