Henry Adams (mechanical engineer)

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Henry Adams as a man

Henry Adams (February 11, 1858 – 1929[1]) was an American mechanical engineer. He emigrated at age 22 to Baltimore from Duisburg, Prussia (now Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany) having been educated as a building engineer. He later worked with the District of Columbia government buildings, and established a longstanding private practice in Baltimore, Maryland.

Public life[edit]

Henry Adams as a working man

In Baltimore, he first worked for builder Benjamin F. Bennett. In 1886, he became a heating and ventilating engineer with the Office of the Supervising Architect of the United States Department of the Treasury. In 1894 he joined the American Society of Heating and Ventilating Engineers (ASHVE) as one of 75 charter members. He served on the organization's Compulsory Legislation committee.[2] He later served as ASHVE president (from 1899 to 1900), on the board of managers, and participated on their council.[3][4]

Henry Adams as a young man

He was president of the board of the Maryland Institute in Baltimore, currently known as the Maryland Institute College of Art. He taught at the institute for 12 years then he participated as a board member and later as president of the board (until his death 45 years later).[1] Adams served as a Federal Fuel Administration engineer for Maryland and Delaware during World War I.[1]

Professional life[edit]

Adams began his own practice in 1898; the company became Henry Adams LLC, which still exists today in Towson, Maryland. His engineering design is also found in several Baltimore buildings: the Bromo Seltzer Tower, Maryland Institute and the Baltimore Museum of Art, Belvedere Hotel,[2] and the first renovation of the Baltimore Courthouse.[5] As a federal engineer, he designed the mechanical system for Ellis Island.[6] He oversaw mechanical equipment design for the Peking Union Medical College in China, and designed equipment for the Masonic temple in Manila.[1]

Family life[edit]

Henry Adams as a young man with his mother, father, and two sisters.
Back of Henry Adams with family photo

Married to Mary Elizabeth Klingelhofer, whose parents, John E and Mary Klingelhofer, were Baltimore bakers who had emigrated from Hessen, Germany. Adams had three sons: Otto Eugene Adams (architect), Ernest H. Adams and Clarence T. Adams (engineers).[7][8]

Henry Adams scholarship[edit]

A college scholarship was established by the firm, Henry Adams LLC, in the memory of Adams. The endowment is coordinated by ASHRAE.[9]


  1. ^ a b c d "Henry Adams Dies: Engineer Was President of Board of Maryland Institute". New York Times, December 10, 1929, ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2004) database. (Document ID: 94219896).
  2. ^ a b Transactions of the American Society of Heating and Ventilating Engineers By American Society of Heating and Ventilating, Published 1905, The Society Air conditioning Periodicals, v.10 (1904), Digitized Dec 6, 2007, p. 285
  3. ^ Transactions of the American Society of Heating and Ventilating Engineers, Vol. V., Fifth Annual Meeting New York January 24–26, 1899; published 1900 by Society of Heating and Ventilating Engineers, p. 5
  4. ^ See graphic on page 4 of History of ASHRAE
  5. ^ Courthouse Plan Mapped, Renovation Program Recommended To Mayor, Baltimore (Morning) Sun, Wednesday, November 6, 1946
  6. ^ Report of the House Committee on Immigration and Naturalization under joint resolution of Senate and House of January 29, 1892, submitted by Mr. Stump. Ordered to be printed July 28, 1892. page 574-577.
  7. ^ The History of Henry Adams Consulting Engineers
  8. ^ The Sun, Baltimore, Wednesday Morning, January 31, 1968.
  9. ^ Henry Adams Scholarship on ASHRAE website


  • Making it work on the inside; Engineering: For 100 years, Henry Adams Inc. has made some of the finest structures in the mid-Atlantic region function properly.; Shanon D. Murray. The Sun. Baltimore, Md.: Apr 26, 1998. pg. 1.F - - ProQuest document ID: 29147560
  • The History of Henry Adams Consulting Engineers<
  • Mechanical Engineers in America Born Prior to 1861: A Biographical Dictionary. New York: American Society of Mechanical Engineers. 1980.