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When Roots Would Go Deep g g g g 1896–1915 It was a case of now or never. Either the school would fall apart completely, or it would pick itself up and become wiser for the tumble. As it happened, the next twenty years were one of the most determining periods in Worcester Tech’s whole history, a time when standards and standing were raised to unexpectedly high levels. The pieces to pick up in 1896 were actually of considerable substance. Perhaps the school’s greatest asset was its recent change to a four-year course. That, and the cumulatively amazing record of its graduates. On the material side, there were several new buildings, an increase in endowment—thanks again to the State of Massachusetts—and the fact that Tech was no longer a free institute. The work in the Tech classrooms went on as if nothing had 5 to sign a pact with Dr. Mendenhall to be “good boys,” to keep unpleasantness at a minimum; but there were few other students who knew anything at all about the recent turmoil in administration. The ink was not long dry on the student agreement when “ ’98” appeared in big numbers on the shop steps. To answer for this reprehensible development the boys were hurriedly summoned. Frank Harrington, president of the class, promised for his classmates that the numbers would be promptly removed. But the oil of the paint had already sunk far down into the pores of the cement, and no matter how hard the boys rubbed, only the surface color would come off. Everybody finally conceded that the class of 1898 had made a permanent impression. The controversies which stormed around the hydraulic elevator episode divided the City into two argumentative camps. The Alumni Association spoke nervously of the prospect of becoming a “byword in the street.” “There are many things existing at the Institute which could be severely criticized and justly so,” continued the report. “All of the departments are more or less in a state of transition.” Inevitably there came a drop in enrollment and a deficit in the treasury. Uneasiness was further intensified by the uncertainty of the whole country’s economic condition. Such was the difference in investment value that in 1901 the income from Tech’s invested funds was less than it had been in 1873. Then, too, there had been the interruption of the SpanishAmerican War. The Worcester Volunteers had marched off for Cuba in 1898, wearing dark blue blouses and light blue trousers, high leggings and rakish campaign hats. Compared to other wars,

The present must be regarded as a critical period in the history of the Institute. —Alumni Association pamphlet, 1895

We have sent out year after year from our classes young men who have been highly taught in the arts of life and who have become all over the country men of moment, who have helped administer great business transactions upon which the safety and prosperity . . . of the nation depended. —George F. Hoar, 1900

Davenport Cup, given by Class of 1890 for athletic trophy, in memory of Clarence G. Davenport, who lost his life in Spanish-America War


I think that our technical schools ought to have for the instructors the best machinists, the best machine designers, the best engineers, the best draughtsmen, and the best and most cultured gentlemen that America affords, regardless of what it costs. —Milton Higgins

The total neglect of hydraulic engineering during my stay at the Institute was a serious omission which actually has caused me much additional labor. —John M. Goodell (’92), 1897


this one did not last long—small consolation to the families who carried its grief and the full knowledge that war leaves no unim portant tears. The first Worcester officer to be killed in this war was a Tech student, Lieutenant Edmund Benchley. Pelham W. Lincoln, also a Tech student, wrote to his mother soon after the battle of San Juan Hill: “We camped on the battlefield where the Spaniards made their last final stand. All day we have been throwing up breast works with our plates, cups, bayonets, or any odd thing we could find. Was not Lieutenant Benchley’s death very sad? He was shot through the heart and never said a word. I heard that the Hornet was destroyed in the naval fight, but cannot help hoping Ralph Earle escaped some way.” He did, and came back to write a later chapter of Worcester Tech’s story. Very soon after the War a corps of extremely competent teachers took over the task of remaking Worcester Tech’s reputation. It was to be a growing time at many unexpected edges, a time when roots would go deep for a later harvest. One tangible indication of Tech’s new directions was the hydraulic laboratory founded to study “the phenomenon of flowing water.” Ironically, it too was “hydraulic”—in partial redemption of the word which had become anathema at the Institute. This laboratory had been initiated at an alumni dinner in 1893 by Professor Alden. He had recently seen, he said, an old water privilege which would be an ideal setting for hydraulic experiments. The land covered perhaps two hundred acres and at least two-thirds of it was under water. Stephen Salisbury III, always listening for a good cause to support, casually interrupted: “I own that land. If you want it, I’ll give it to you.” There was only one other school in the country with such a laboratory. Since time immemorial, of course, water had been a subject of human study. There had been wells for holding water, canals for channeling it, reservoirs for storing it, aqueducts for moving it, siphons and pumps for coaxing it. In addition to its obvious bene fits on which life itself relied, it had served many other practical purposes. The flow of water had been used to tell time, its pressure to move objects. Then, too, it had been used for power. But the new concept that this power might be transformed and transmitted great distances had pried open many fields of inquiry. With the ponds and brooks of Mr. Salisbury’s gift, which had originally provided power for three woolen and grist mills, Tech also received all “water rights, flowage rights, one corn cracker, one portable grist mill, one shoddy picker, one rag duster, one cupola fan, one water grindstone, one two-horse cart, pulleys, beltings, sacks, measures, grain, and a Fairbanks standard scale.” To this variety was later added the Fairbanks scale which Tech had acquired soon after its exhibition at the World’s Fair in 1876. This pair of scales was so sensitive that it would as agreeably weigh

a sixty-thousand-pound load as a fifty-cent piece. It was also so reliable that in Worcester Tech’s hundredth year, the old scale was still in constant use at the hydraulic laboratory. In a small onestory building on the site of the old woolen mill, this Fairbanks scale was placed near the copper-lined weighing tank. Other in dispensable equipment was the Venturi meter, thirty-six inches in diameter, purchased by Mr. Salisbury after the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893. Through this meter, the largest in the world, all the water used at the Fair had passed. George Alden guided the work of the hydraulic laboratory during its first two years before his resignation; by later provisions he was to influence its activities permanently. Assisting him was a young graduate of 1894, Charles Metcalf Allen, and thus began another indissoluble relationship of “man and lab” which would span more than a half century. In the summer of 1896 young Charlie Allen shared a third-floor room in the Higgins home with his friend, John Higgins. The Higgins family, with the exception of John, had gone to Europe with the hope that Mr. Higgins might recuperate from a breakdown of physical and nervous energies. John, a graduate of Tech’s Elec trical Engineering course the previous spring, had set up a completely automatic system in his room. By pushing the right buttons, he and Charlie Allen could raise the window shades, open the furnaces, and even feed Nelson (the horse) his morning oats. John Higgins had also become plant engineer and shipping clerk of the Plunger Elevator Company, which his father and Professor Alden had bought from Worcester Tech and transferred to Barber’s Crossing near the increasingly successful Norton Company. For his thesis in 1896 John Higgins had submitted a plan for installing steam power and electricity in this elevator factory. Electrical Engineering was becoming the predominant course at Tech, straining the resources of the Physics Department under whose care it had started with Professor Kimball before his death in 1897. The number of majors in Electrical Engineering equaled the graduates of all other departments; it was evident that accommodations would soon have to be made for this greedy innovation which gave signs of encompassing almost every area of human activity. At the same bitter board meeting in which the Washburn Shops had been disrupted—in the strange way incidents have of balancing each other—a young Purdue University professor, Harold B. Smith, had been engaged to organize an extensive course in Electrical Engineering. Its scope was to broaden so rapidly that though the department offered eleven courses in 1897, it had “limited” them to forty-one by 1915. When the fourth president of the school, Edmund A. Engler, ordered a reorganization of curriculum in 1905, Professor Smith wrote a dramatic report of his cramped department in which he said a complete “strangulation” was imminent.

Harold B. Smith


This test car is a marvel of ingenuity. The tests it won't make of an electric line are rather difficult to mention. These it does while the car is in motion. Not only does it search out the defect but it records it . . . by means of fire, so controlled that even when the ink has faded the spark record will remain. —Lewiston Saturday Journal 1915


“It is the hope,” he continued, “that the first decade of this department may be closed by the dedication of a suitable building and equipment for the work of this department.” It was. When in 1907 the Commencement exercises were held in the “great laboratory” (it went by no other name for years) there was an overwhelming reaction to the splendor of the building, “the largest and best in the world.” The first program of the festive Commencement week, and the first in the laboratory, was a lecture by a professor recently appointed to teach Electric Railroad Engi neering, Albert S. Richey. Present at the exercises that day was one of the boys who was graduated in 1907, Arthur J. Knight, and thus began another long story in Tech’s personal relationships. The new building was built in a symbolic “E,” the long vertical stroke of the letter represented by the laboratory, the short middle one by the steps and entrance of the building. Tech activities soon revolved around this new building of which the students were immensely proud. For years the steps were “offbounds” for the freshmen. Along with the injunction to “wear at all times the regulation cap,” there was another rule which was just as strictly enforced: “Remain away from the electrical laboratory steps at all times.” To have their picture taken on these steps became a primary objective of the freshman class, and their attempts to accomplish this feat led to some rather frisky tangles with their self-labeled “great and glorious superiors.” As impressive as was the equipment of the electrical laboratory— with balconies of dynamos and motors standing in neat forma tion as if awaiting inspection by the traveling crane—everything dwindled into insignificance when the forty-foot Tech trolley first clanged its way through the big west door of the building, giving the professors and the boys a very expensive new toy. No other piece of laboratory equipment had ever been so valuable—or so much fun. Pullman-green, with gold trimmings, the car had side and end doors but no regular steps, a precaution for persons who might otherwise mistake it for a passenger trolley. Named “1907,” for the simple reason that that was the year it was made, the car was equipped to test speed, voltage, current, and resistance of railbonds—automatically—as well as many other things which one bewildered railway engineer said “would take a Philadelphia lawyer to understand.” Before the trolley was scrapped many years later in the progression by which electricity kept outwitting itself, the car had tested thousands of miles on the networks of New Eng land’s electric railways. The electrical laboratory had been well planned. As soon as it was privately known that Mr. Salisbury was contemplating a gift of adequate size to build such a building, Professor Smith was given a leave of absence to study all similar installations. Pro fessor Richey also visited many engineering schools to obtain

ideas for equipping the laboratory, and for many months Carl D. Knight was occupied in assembling the machinery for the building. For once the school had something material in which there seemed to be no lack—no lack at all—and the space the new building indirectly provided for the other envious departments was partial compensation for unfavorable comparisons. Just as the electrical engineering building was a link with the future, the new forge shop was a link with the past. It looked different; it was different, for in this foursquare little structure John Jernberg presided at a long line of forges in the same regal manner that Anglo-Saxon blacksmiths had sat in state with kings and were considered among the highest officers of the realm. While Johnnie Jernberg, with speech and manners instantly betraying his Swedish background, showed the boys “how to hammer ‘em fort’ and back over de horn of de anvil” and how to determine heat by the color of the metal, his ten-year-old nephew, Carl Johnson, watched with wide-eyed admiration. That is, when he wasn’t doing errands for Uncle John, for Pop Monroe or Pa Fairfield, instructors in the shop. Carl’s best friend—after Uncle John—was Burt Gray, the instructor in foundry practice and director of the commercial foundry. Al though there was perhaps a difference of forty years in age, the companionship that developed because a man bothered to talk and listen to a little boy was later to pay dividends to Worcester Tech far beyond the measuring. In 1904 the school lost one of its oldest friends with the death of George F. Hoar. He was easily Worcester’s most famous citizen. On the day of Senator Hoar’s funeral Tech students joined the thousands of persons in the cortege to City Hall, which like every public building in Worcester was covered with black drapes of mourning. Senator Hoar had served in the United States Senate for twenty-seven years; at Worcester Tech as corporator and as trustee for thirty-six years. With the death of Charles H. Morgan in 1911, after an association with Tech for forty-five years, the school lost the last member of its first board. A few months later, Milton Higgins died. Mr. Higgins had come back to Tech in 1904 as a board member appointed by the State. There was a flurry of embarrassment when he appeared (in a few short years he had become a man of considerable prominence) and Mr. Morgan, always Mr. Higgins’ staunchest supporter, made a gallant motion to rescind the vote which had precipitated Mr. Higgins’ resignation in 1896. When someone deftly suggested that for the time being perhaps the subject might better go on the table, it apparently slipped clear under the table. Never again was the motion recovered. The board did ask Mr. Higgins, however, to write his opinion about how the Washburn Shops could again be made profitable. He wrote, then presented the report, but the board’s reaction was evasive. The old ashes burst into brief flame when William W. Bird,

In 1869 I made before the Massachusetts Legislature on a petition which was successful for a legislative grant to that school, what I believe is the first public address ever made in behalf of Technical education in this country. —George F. Hoar, 1904

He [Milton Higgins] is well known all over the United States as a leader of thought in connection with the widespread movement for industrial education. —State Board of Education, 1904


In order to be of service, a man must have some advantage over the other fellow and at the same time he must have character enough to prevent him from making use of the advantage to the disadvantage of his fellowmen. —William W. Bird, 1921

His life has been worth millions to Worcester and is to be worth billions as time and the industries go on. —Obituary of Milton Higgins, 1912


who had reorganized the Shops under his guidance as head of Mechanical Engineering, flatly declared: “If they [the faculty and board] think they ought to make money, I am in favor of and recommend that the Washburn Shops be given up as a commercial enterprise. It has not been our policy to run the shop on a commercial basis for the sake of making money.” This didn’t make sense to Milton Higgins, whose whole experi ence had revealed no better basis for making money. The academic arguments for keeping the commercial aspect only for keeping in touch with “the work of the world” and to “keep the students interested by making something that could be used” seemed almost to be a perversion of the motivation on which all business depended. Besides, what was so wrong with making money? Leaving well enough alone, however, the board decided to maintain the policy of keeping the Shops commercial, but not profitable. Thus they remained, keeping life anything but dull and giving countless persons an argument to chew on for many years. The Shops undoubtedly had a valuable teaching function, although no one could ever quite define it, and now when any old graduate is asked what he remembers most happily about Tech, he invariably mentions the Shops. Usually his face lights up as his heart warms with the remembrance. By the time Mr. Higgins came back to Worcester Tech as a member of the board, he had achieved national recognition chiefly as an innovator of trade schools, an example of which he had organized in Worcester. (Elmer H. Fish resigned as instructor of Drawing at Tech to become the first president of this school.) The elevator business had been sold to the Otis Company, and Mr. Higgins had become president of Worcester Pressed Steel Company, Riley Stoker Corporation (founded on an invention of his son-inlaw, R. Sanford Riley, a Tech graduate) and of Norton Company and its near-relative, the Norton Grinding Company. The day after Mr. Higgins died, the flags were again at half mast on Worcester’s public buildings. Many years later his daughter, still hurting from her father’s old wound, would write of that day: “I wished he could see them, especially the flag at the Tech flying so valiantly for him on the tower of Boynton Hall.” As Worcester Tech lost old friends, it gained new ones. James Logan was neither old nor new, but both. He had been close to Tech ever since his boyhood when he had worked in the stationery store where students bought their books. He had sung with the Tech glee clubs and played on the ball teams. Named an honorary member of the Class of 1876, Mr. Logan was later made the first honorary member of the Alumni Association in 1891 and a member of the board in 1899. Mr. Logan’s business career had started in David Whitcomb’s envelope factory, and his favorite story was of how, when Mr. Whitcomb refused him a raise in salary, he had left to form his own competing company. It thus developed that as one man had

helped to establish the school in one generation, another came along in the next—and in the same business—to strengthen it. In 1898 Mr. Logan had engineered the consolidation of nine envelope companies into the United States Envelope Company, of which he was general manager, then president. Mr. Logan was widely known as Scotland’s most distinguished American. In 1907 he was elected Mayor of the City of Worcester. The Class of 1908 dedicated their yearbook to Mayor Logan, “loyal friend of the Tech and of Tech men.” The editor-in-chief, voted the “brightest Senior” by his classmates, was Bob (“accented on the second syllable”) Goddard. He and the two other boys who were graduated from General Science were rated “as all goodnatured pleasant fellows even though the average standing of their division was very high.” When the Graduates’ Aid prizes were awarded in 1908, the words had a solemn sound of prophecy: “The men to receive the prizes and the order of their standing is as follows: First, Robert Hutchings Goddard.” This boy had also been the first student ad mitted to Sigma Xi, an honorary engineering society. There were intimations of this boy’s future. According to the yearbook, Bob Goddard reveled in the “weirdest of physics” and made a study of the “theory and application of a gyroscope for relaxation.” Later Dr. Goddard was to reminisce of this period when, as he said, “the writer was a youngster, a senior at Tech.” He told of the time when he “wrote up” an answer to the question: “Given a mass of explosive material of as great energy content as possible, what height can be reached if a large fraction of this material is shot downward, on exploding, with as high a speed as possible?” His conclusion that “the rocket method is the only method of raising apparatus of any delicacy to great height” was to him the only answer consistent “with known laws of mechanics and of common sense.” The young senior submitted his speculation to several scientific journals, but none was interested in such a fanciful idea. As for his professors, there were several who believed in Robert Goddard’s extraordinary ability but none who suspected how radically his conjectures would alter whole curriculums in a future generation. No more than there had been an inkling of the importance of the tinkering done by Atwater Kent in a little shop on Hermon Street in a previous year, a tinkering which the boy had seemed to prefer to the studies prescribed by his teachers at Tech. The 1908 yearbook was to date the most mature contribution of any graduating class and indicated a new depth of student perception and perspective. It was all in all a sober book. In fact, it was a sober year, the fall term starting off tragically with the death of a sophomore, Emil Gran, as a result of a melee during the cane rush. It simply happened—and nothing anyone could say or do could assuage the grief and guilt of everyone concerned. The boy was conscious for several days before his

A hundred years is a long time even as men count time Monuments will decay, trust funds will vanish, even our beautiful City Hall and all the buildings on Tech Hill will go the way of all works of man, but the Tech will remain, its life will probably be longer than any of these things which I have mentioned, and we are today planning for this long and larger life for the years that are to be. —Mayor James Logan, 1913

We feel it was a part of the rivalry incident to college life. We most sincerely hope, however, that this will do away with this custom of Tech students. —Statement of Emil Gran’s mother, 1908


People who make the rules keep the rules. —Fraternity member, 1964

The corporation records its determination to maintain status of this Institute as an engineering college of the highest grade and directs the Faculty to establish and maintain entrance requirements and graduation standards suitable for a college of that status. —Board of Trustees, 1905

Do not be deceived. The good professor is not necessarily the famous man, the great speaker, or the great writer, or the master of books, or the very learned man, or the popular man. —John Woodman, 1868


death and absolved everyone in generous forgiveness. So did his family. Nevertheless, it was an appalling experience through which many thoughtless boys grew up to become responsible men. Fraternities and classes began making their own rules of conduct, thereby initiating a self-discipline which has become traditional and has been seldom transgressed. In 1908 the Tech community was also sobered by the resignation of the beloved Johnny Sinclair as the last member of the school’s original faculty. Professor Sinclair, who retired on the first Carnegie annuity, shared his good fortune by turning over to Worcester Tech three paid-up insurance policies amounting to ten thousand dollars. It was his wish thus to endow a chair in mathematics and “to show affection,” as he said, “for the Institute where in the early years Mrs. Sinclair and I taught together, and to show my gratitude for the opportunity which the Institute opened to me through thirty-nine years for a useful life.” Although Pro fessor Sinclair’s gift was not publicly disclosed until after his death, an announcement was made that a chair bearing his name would be established and that the first recipient would be Levi Conant, who since 1901 had been chief assistant in the Mathematics Department. Professor Sinclair was delighted. The teachers of Tech were becoming as well known for ability in the classroom as for brilliance in their subjects. Reflecting this regard, the trustees had virtually handed over to the faculty the task of running the institution. This was the day of the giants. In the Physics Department was A. Wilmer Duff, known in many a school for his Textbook of Physics. There was Arthur W. French in Civil Engineering; Leonard P. Kinnicutt in Chemistry; George H. Haynes in Economics and Government; Zelotes W. Coombs in English; Charles J. Adams in Modern Languages; William W. Bird in Mechanical Engineering; Harold B. Smith in Electrical Engineering, and Alton L. Smith in Drawing and Machine Design. Serving with these men were such professors and instructors as Arthur W. Ewell, Frederic Bonnet, Jr., Raymond K. Morley, Joseph O. Phelon, Carleton A. Read, Carl D. Knight, George I. Rockwood, Francis W. Roys, Arthur J. Knight, Morton Masius, Robert C. Sweetser, Daniel F. O’Regan, and Daniel F. Calhane. In 1911 Tech lost one of its strongest professors, Professor Kinnicutt, at the too-early age of fifty-six. His successor had been picked by himself many years previously, in 1896, while attending a conference of the British Association for Advancement of Science, held at the invitation of the Duke of Marlborough at Blenheim Castle. On that occasion a picture was taken of the guests who assembled on the front steps of the castle. Dr. Kinnicutt, who had been looking for the right man for his department (Dr. Fuller had recently resigned as “principal and instructor of chemistry”), had been told of a young scientist who was doing outstanding graduate work in Europe. Taking a chance that he might find the man here, Dr. Kinnicutt

asked in a loud voice, “Is Jennings here? I want to ask him to come to Worcester.” “Worcester? Where’s Worcester?” came an answer from the crowd. Everyone turned to look at the full-faced, eager young man, wearing, of course, the black bow tie which had already become part of his personality. Walter Jennings, a Cambridge, Massachusetts, boy, was soon to find out where Worcester was. He joined the teaching staff of Tech in 1896, and when Dr. Kinnicutt died, he became head of the Chemistry Department. In Dr. Kinnicutt’s will he left a bequest to the school with the condition that after his wife’s death the school would be attested as being “scientific, not a trade school” by the presidents of Dart mouth, Amherst, and Williams. He provided his own best guarantee, at least in his own department, by his choice of Walter Jennings. Dr. Jennings’ wife, an English girl with a continental education and the most proper of manners, found Worcester strange but friendly. As she had been taught to do, she began inviting people in for tea. From this little gesture developed a warmth which included the ladies as well as the professors in a new kind of Tech family relationship. Eventually the social sessions moved to a room in Boynton Hall. Sometimes the whole Jennings family, including the professor, could be seen trudging up the long hill carrying cups and saucers and the usual paraphernalia for Mrs. Jennings’ popular teas. From this custom grew the beginnings of the W.P.I. Women’s Club. The Jennings family lived in Professor Thompson’s old house, where on window panes in an upstairs ell could still be seen the signatures of Tech boys who had rented rooms from the first principal. This was a treasured window, and Mrs. Jennings often took her guests up the steep stairs to see this reminder of the school’s history so indelibly etched in glass, that is, until the sad day when a helpfully-intentioned workman replaced the scratched panes with clear new ones and called it progress. These were the exciting years when Tech’s new courses and new instructors raced to keep up with the technical fields which were constantly being introduced. For instance, David L. Gallup offered a pioneer course in air engineering long before air flight was conceded to be a practical possibility. His students once launched a twenty-one-foot glider thirty feet in the air as an experimental project. All too quickly the glider keeled over, and several ribs were broken—the glider’s, fortunately, not the pilot’s. Professor Gallup also had an experimental ice boat which met with frequent incident and disaster. One wintry day, after the boys had pushed the balky boat for a half mile across the ice, they agreed ice-boating would be more fun in the summer. When they tried it again on a warmer day and were moving nicely along at fifty miles an hour, the boat pushed its runners into mellow ice and sank into forty feet of water.

Mrs. Walter L. Jennings


Eighty-five percent of the horse-drawn vehicle industry of the country is untouched by the automobile. The man who predicts the downfall of the automobile is a fool. the man who denies its great necessity and general adoption for many uses is a bigger fool: and the man who predicts the general annihilation of the horse and his vehicle is the greatest fool of all. —Address, National Association of Carriage Builders, 1910

George H. Haynes

Quite a number of the grads [of Tech] are the owners of machine and electrical shops in this city, and the same is true of some who were professors on Boynton Hill. —Donald Tulloch, 1914


Professor Gallup and his students also made an automobile which he claimed was the fastest in the world under a thousand pounds. It could travel eighty miles an hour. The automobile was just beginning to catch the fancy of the general public. Only a few cars were seen in Worcester in addition to Charles Crompton’s, which was of his own design and had reportedly cost fifty thousand dollars. John Higgins had a Stanley Steamer, George Rockwood a Mobile, Frank Knowles a Winton. In 1905 a new phrase appeared in Worcester’s medical records when George N. Jeppson was X-rayed for a “chauffeur’s fracture.” Charlie Allen eliminated this risk by inventing his own starting system. It was simple, he said—just throw some gas underneath the car and light a match. Among the Worcester Tech alumni who notably contributed to the development of the automobile was Elwood Haynes; his first gasoline horseless carriage eventually found its way into the Smithsonian Institution. When in 1914 he visited Tech and his cousin— Professor George Haynes—he was given a hero’s welcome. Al though he was still president of the Haynes Automobile Company in Indiana, he had shifted his attention to “stellite,” a metal alloy, harder than any other metal, and one which “would hold its cutting edge while red hot.” He had been working on this “stainless” steel since his schooldays at Tech, when a razor he had made an noyed him by frequent rusting and tarnishing. The first truck in Worcester is said to have originated in the Washburn Shops. It was used primarily for carrying supplies back and forth to the hydraulic laboratory in Holden. Roads were unreliable; so was the truck. Each time the boys succeeded in making the trip to Holden and back without mishap, they put a cross on the dashboard, which, it must be said, never became over crowded. Ralph Morgan, a Tech student, also did much of his testing in the Washburn Shops for his three-ton power truck driven by steam. From experiments on this truck he went on to PopeToledo as chief engineer to design and supervise the making of the first motor vehicle with four-cylinder gas engine power. Windsor T. White, another Tech man, had developed the White Steamer in Cleveland. Henry J. Fuller (President Fuller’s son) had become president of the Rolls Royce Company of America and A. Atwater Kent had become a manufacturer of automotive supplies. So many Tech graduates were now managers and owners of the businesses in which they had started out as engineers that special emphasis was given to a course in Shop Management. This course was especially popular because of its synchronization with the theories and methods of Frederick W. Taylor, who has become known as the pioneer of Scientific Management. Continuing in the spirit of the lecture courses instituted as early as 1888, Worcester Tech kept its community well informed of the technological changes in the world. There were public lectures on water, evolution, high building construction, even “On the Brain”

by G. Stanley Hall (president of Clark University). There were electrical demonstrations of “labor saving devices” such as electric irons, ovens, dryers, and vacuum cleaners—the latter “much cheaper and easier to operate than the old carpet sweeper.” Wire less telephony had also been discussed and the wireless receiving station in the tower of Boynton Hall thoroughly inspected. William W. Bird had presented his theories about transmission of power by leather belting. There had been an illustrated talk with lantern slides in natural colors by a professor of M.I.T. “Nothing of this kind has ever been seen in Worcester,” declared the impressed reporter. Within the month, Harold B. Smith used a hundred similar slides to illustrate his lecture on “High Voltage Power Transmission.” No subject received so much public interest, however, as did Charlie Allen’s “Gasoline: Its Uses and Abuses.” Punctuating his remarks with appropriate flame and explosion, Professor Allen advised caution and respect. He also predicted that an automobile using kerosene would be on the market within a few years. Professor Allen was always well equipped with props and tools, which he kept in bulging pockets lined with leather. “How many of you have a jackknife in your pocket?” he would ask his students on their first day in class. Usually the collection was small and the professor would admonish: “Always carry your tools. The least a good engineer should have with him is a jackknife.” Among the props for his lectures, Professor Allen had cans of gasoline and kerosene and a stack of freshly laundered hand towels. As part of his routine he would pick up one of these towels, dramatically shake it out, then deftly smother the flames his gasoline vapor had made. There was one occasion when the flames went completely out of control. Nonchalantly he shook out his towels and went through the motions of calmly smothering one fire after another. Everyone thought it was part of his act, and only afterwards did Professor Allen admit he “had been scared to death.” For many years Professor Allen gave his lecture at a ridiculously varied assortment of functions. He accepted every invitation as eagerly as if it were for a scientific convention. Probably the only time he wished he hadn’t bothered was at a fraternity house where the boys had connected his metal-topped table to an electrical current. Professor Allen leaned against the table during his talk and for the rest of his life bore deep scars on his thighs as a reminder of the experience. Again and again the bottom of Tech’s treasury barrel was scraped in an effort to adopt the innovations of the early 1900’s. Occasionally unexpected gifts came from unexpected sources. But there were other instances when the school’s expectations did not materialize, chiefly when Stephen Salisbury III died in 1905. When Mr. Salisbury resigned from the presidency of Tech’s board a few months before his death, he tempered the break by a gift of $100,000. In his will there was a provision for $200,000

By radio there is also promise that it will be practical to transmit motion pictures, to permit remote vision, in extension of the present transmission of photographs by electrical means. —Tech Circular, 1905

Charles M. Allen


Stephen Salisbury was forced to confine his intimacies to those who he knew would ask him for nothing. Most men asked him for everything . . . A missionary was the only man who in his zeal ever ventured to slap him on the back. This was almost sacrilegious. He got no money. Most men handled him as tenderly as a bit of bric-a-brac. —Reminiscences of Worcester Fire Society

Probably at no other institution in the country can a poor student get as much for his money as he can here. —Charles G. Washburn, in letter to Horace Wyman, 1905

We think union with Polytech would be a good thing, but it isn't worth going to Worcester for. —Spokesman for M.I.T. 1910

It [M.I.T.] is not likely to go to the proposed site on the banks of the Charles in Cambridge because of the poor neighborhood. —Richard C. MacLaurin, 1910


more—“only $200,000,” said one trustee off-guard. Mr. Salisbury left the bulk of his estate to other causes, principally to the Art Museum in which he had great interest as founder. The fact that he made his will in 1896, the year in which Worcester Tech reached a very low ebb, may also have had something to do with his decision. At any rate, the omission of Tech from a more generous bequest was a finality that had to be faced. “Everyone has thought of the school as Stephen Salisbury’s project,” said Charles Washburn, who succeeded him as president of the board. “We must realize that nothing further from that source can be received.” There seemed to be nothing else to do but turn again to the State, just as Tech had done so many times in previous years. The annual grant had been increased from three to fifteen thousand dollars, but this amount no longer covered the cost of the scholarships which Tech was obliged to give State-selected applicants. This time asking for money was not easy. There were indications that State support would not much longer be available for private institutions, and many of the legislators were anxious to hurry the trend. When the bill came up for discussion in Boston, two hundred Tech men went to the hearing. Chief spokesman was Robert M. Washburn (Charles Washburn’s brother), and supporting him were Dr. Homer Gage, Mayor Logan, George Booth, and Charles Washburn. The opposition pointed out that since its founding the school had received more than three hundred thousand dollars. That’s really not so much, countered the Worcester men, compared to the almost three million received by the Agricultural College or the more than one million by M.I.T. These were the years when M.I.T., hard-pressed for room, was faced with the necessity of changing its location. The school had three buildings on Boylston Street plus many others scattered on five streets in the Back Bay district. Its athletic field was a mile away, near Jamaica Pond. For several weeks there were rumors of a merger of Worcester Tech with M.I.T., with visions of a huge state technical school occupying the fancy of many an educator. There was considerable disappointment when the trustees of M.I.T. chose the site in Cambridge despite the editorial observation that “it seems hard to see why Cambridge would want it when all agree Harvard is a drag on the city treasury.” The Massachusetts Legislature eventually bargained with Worcester Tech, promising a grant of $500,000 provided the school itself would raise $350,000 within the next five years. This was talking in big terms, but sounded like a victory. That night an impromptu parade of five hundred persons gave the news to Worcester. The school’s sagging old barn was tied together (with the rope now used in the traditional rope pull) and hauled to Bliss Field for a bonfire “of no small proportions.” As pleased as Mr. Washburn was, he cautioned that this was only the beginning of a great deal of hard work. Soon afterwards

he called together a mass meeting of students, faculty, trustees, and alumni—the first in the history of the school—to discuss the serious financial challenge. Worcester Tech had lost two of its presidents largely because of the frustrations concerned with money raising. Dr. Mendenhall’s regime had ended in 1901 with his despairing comment that he could not “perform in the Institute the service of which it stands most in need; that is, an increase in its endowment.” His successor, Dr. Engler, felt the same nagging worry. It was only in perspective that the gains of Dr. Engler’s administration were properly evaluated. His personality was unfortunately not so colorful as his accomplishments and prevented people from seeing either. During his years as Tech’s president, the enrollment was doubled, the departments were reorganized, two buildings were built, and the power and heating systems revised. Student activities were increased, post-graduate courses were incorporated into the curriculum, and scientific and engineering societies were established on campus, as well as an honor society. It had been Dr. Engler’s hope to make Worcester Tech a first-grade professional school. According to Charles Washburn, “all this progress has been made without disturbance or friction.” Nevertheless Dr. Engler was disappointed because he could not raise the money for further dreams. A fellow member of the Worcester Fire Society afterwards wrote sadly, “He came to Worcester as a stranger, gave the City ten years, then left almost as a stranger.” With Dr. Engler’s resignation, attention shifted almost immediately to Mayor Logan. He was immensely popular and thought to be the perfect choice for Tech’s presidency. Not only was the invitation unanimous from the board, but also from the alumni and students. Mayor Logan had left school when he was ten years old and had had no other academic background. “If he accepts,” remarked an editorial in the Worcester newspaper, “it will be an honor never come to man in this country or any other.” At the Alumni dinner in 1911, which by that time had become an annual tradition, Mayor Logan announced that he could not in good conscience accept the invitation to become president. For the time being, Levi Conant, the oldest member of the faculty, was made acting president. It was Professor Conant who proposed to be responsible for raising a hundred thousand dollars in the drive for funds. The alumni tackled a similar goal, and Professor Arthur D. Butterfield was loaned by the school to promote the cause among the members of the thirteen alumni associations. Mr. Washburn himself promised $50,000. On his jaunts across country Professor Butterfield took along a record made by Professor Coombs, Mr. Washburn, Professor Jen nings and Professor Gladwin (now very old, but still operating an art studio in Worcester). This record, an embryonic public relations aid, was a subject of much comment. All they did, said the

The three things indispensable to a good college, and wanting any one of which, it will certainly fail, possessing all of which, everything besides is but the dust upon the balance, are these: money, wisdom, and good teachers. —John S. Woodman, 1868

I think the transition from our present status to that of a strictly professional school could be made in the course of a few years without causing any special commotion. We are in as good a position to make this change as any institution in the country. —Edmund A. Engler, 1908

Edmund A. Engler


I come here not to direct, but to be directed by the students. The credit of an institution is in the students. The president is merely a chore man to help those who want to help themselves to get what they want. —Ira N. Hollis, 1913

All athletics at the Institute are bounded by the Faculty on the north, by lack of funds on the south, by lack of time on the east, and by no facilities on the west. —Aftermath, 1908

The plans for a new Tech gymnasium are made and the only thing lacking is money. —Alumni Association, 1909


impressed participants, was “speak into an Edison recorder and in a few minutes it was reproduced through the horn of another machine.” The culmination of the successful campaign coincided with the 50th anniversary of the school in 1915. By that year the school had a new president, whose first public announcement was of his intention to establish athletics as an im portant part of the school program. Ira N. Hollis had been dean of the Engineering Department at Harvard University and chairman of the Harvard Athletic Commission. It was he who had designed the horseshoe stadium of Soldiers Field. By more than passing coincidence, it had been Arthur W. French, now head of W.P.I.’s Civil Engineering Department, who had been the engineer in charge of constructing the field. The vigorous Dr. Hollis had further appeal because of his Navy background, having been graduated from the Naval Academy first man in his class before spending fifteen years in active service. The felicitous choice of Dr. Hollis at this time, when at last the Tech alumni had pushed through their objectives for an athletic field and gymnasium, was well timed. At last the school was to jump the street which had for so long prevented its expansion to the west. All of Tech’s buildings had crowded close together on the brow of the hill and as close to West Street as possible as if bracing for this eventual leap. The Alumni Association had previously purchased Bliss Field with the intention of turning it into a properly equipped athletic field. But so far nothing had materialized. Now Worcester Tech made one of its most significant purchases by extending the campus all the way to Park Avenue. The Alumni Association agreed to substitute this lower area for the top of the hill as a site for their athletic field; they even bought several small parcels of land so that the boundaries would be sharply marked by streets. It was announced that this extra land “would be fully capable of taking care of the growth of the Institute for the next fifty years.” The civil engineering students fondly adopted this undeveloped field for their practice project. They came to know the “elevation of every cobblestone” and made no end of grading and drainage systems for this precious plot of ground. In 1914 the athletic field was completed and initiated by a spectacular football victory over Rensselaer, fourteen to nothing. The boys in the Antenna of ’77 had said they knew the future day would come when the rich alumni would provide a gymnasium. This prophecy was to come true, and they would be chief among the rich men to pay for it. In 1915 the laying of a cornerstone for the long-awaited gymnasium constituted an important part of the anniversary observance. The 50th birthday celebration was planned to last four days, beginning with a procession with faculty and seniors in academic

robes for the first time in the history of the school. One hundred and eighty invited delegates from other schools and engineering societies, the trustees, faculty, and students were to proceed from Boynton Hall to Central Church for the Baccalaureate service on Sunday morning. As usual, just as it had fifty years before when the school had been dedicated and as it had on so many other im portant occasions—it rained, and the procession was canceled. It was a disappointment, especially to Professor Coombs, who had been responsible for much of the planning and who had been named as marshal for all functions. But if the guests had known how much more walking Professor Coombs had in store for them before the week was over, there would have been no complaint. The processions which criss-crossed the City for four days culminated when the guests, accompanied by several bands, marched from the Bancroft Hotel through the Common and up Main Street to Mechanics Hall. There they passed through the double line of Tech students who had walked down in formation from Boynton Hall. The expected speaker, President Woodrow Wilson, had sent his regrets with the foreboding explanation—“pressure of public business especially in connection with the European War.” There was nevertheless no dearth of speakers at Tech’s anniversary party. One of them was Booker T. Washington from Tuskegee Institute. He had, he said, almost missed the train north because the only coachman available had refused to drive a Negro to the station. Dr. Washington had broken the impasse by taking the reins himself and letting the coachman sit in style on the back seat. This unforgettable visitor, with his unforgettable story, helped the other prominent guests to tie Tech’s half century into many neat bundles of praise. Then the great throng returned to the campus, which “perfect weather” had surprisingly made a “most acceptable place” for lunch and innumerable reunions. The school took a deep breath. It now had a history, having survived its first fifty years. Even the weather had given its blessing.

g g g g g g g g g g g g g g g g g g g g


Water wheel experiment, 1906, Hydraulic Laboratory


Leslie J. Hooper and Lawrence C. Neale with old Fairbanks scale

Hydraulic Testing Station, 1897


Electrical Engineering Laboratories, later named for Atwater Kent Stephen Salisbury’s hayfield, the site of the above building


103 Tech car superimposed on Massachusetts Electric Railways map

Faculty, 1910. Back row: A. Smith, Read, C. D. Knight, Jennings, Kinnicutt, Engler, Butterfield, Conant, Haynes, French, R. Sweetser; front row: Phelon, Coombs, Allen, Richey, H. Smith, Ewell, Duff, Ives Mechanical Engineering staff outing, 1906. In doorway: Carl Au, Charles Allen, President Engler, David Gallup, J. K. Marshall; top step: W. L. Buchanan, bookkeeper, A. L. Smith; second step: Albert S. Buzzell, Wm. Bird, Noah Ashworth, John Jernberg; in front: N. W. Nelson, Howard P. Fairfield, T.W. Johnson; at left, standing: Louis W. Rawson; at right standing: Wilbur R. Tilden.


Shop Management class, Francis W. Roys third row, left. Picture still hangs in Washburn Shops

In nostalgic moment Carl G. Johnson revives old forge originally used by his uncle, John Jernberg, left


When Roots Would Go Deep - part 1  

When Roots Would Go Deep - part 1

When Roots Would Go Deep - part 1  

When Roots Would Go Deep - part 1