John Gorrie

From Academic Kids

John Gorrie

NSHC statue of John Gorrie

John Gorrie, (October 3, 1802June 29, 1855) physician, scientist, inventor, and humanitarian, is considered the father of refrigeration and air conditioning. He was born on the Island of Nevis on October 3, 1802, and spent his childhood in South Carolina. He received his medical education at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of the Western District of New York in Fairfield, New York. In 1833, he moved to Apalachicola, Florida, a port city on the Gulf coast. As well as being resident physician at two hospitals, Gorrie was active in the community. At various times he served as Postmaster, President of the Apalachicola Branch Bank of Pensacola, Secretary of the Masonic Lodge, and was one of the founding vestrymen of Trinity Episcopal Church.

Missing image
John_gorrie_monument.jpg
Gorrie Monument in Apalachicola, Florida.

Dr. Gorrie's medical research involved the study of tropical diseases. With remarkable foresight and without knowledge of microbiology, he urged draining the swamps and sleeping under mosquito netting to prevent disease. He also advocated the cooling of sickrooms to reduce fever and to make the patient more comfortable. For this he cooled rooms with ice in a basin suspended from the ceiling. Cool air, being heavier, flowed down across the patient and though an opening near the floor. Since ice had to be brought by boat from the northern lakes, Gorrie experimented with making artificial ice.

After 1845, he gave up his medical practice to pursue refrigeration projects. On May 6, 1851, Gorrie was granted Patent No. 8080 for a machine to make ice. The original model of this machines and the scientific articles he wrote are at the Smithsonian Institution. Impoverished, Gorrie sought to raise money to manufacture his machine, but the venture failed when his partner died. Humiliated by criticism, financially ruined, and his health broken, Gorrie died in seclusion on June 29, 1855. He is buried in Gorrie Square in Apalachicola.

In 1914, the state of Florida gave a statue of Gorrie to the National Statuary Hall Collection.

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Gorrie_Ice_Machine.png
Schematic of ice machine.

External link

Reference

  • John Gorrie, M.D.: Father of Air Conditioning and Mechanical Refrigeration
    by Raymond B. Becker. Carlton Press, 1972.
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