Richard H. Rice

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Richard Henry Rice
Born (1863-01-09)January 9, 1863
Marlborough, Massachusetts
Died February 10, 1922(1922-02-10) (aged 59)
Bolton, New York, United States
Residence Providence, Rhode Island
Lynn, Massachusetts
Nationality American
Alma mater Stevens Institute of Technology, M.E. 1885
Ph.D.(honoris causa) 1921
Known for improvements to the Corliss steam engine; principal engineer of Rice & Sargent Engine Company
Spouse(s) Mary Sue (Durgin) Rice (m. 1887; d. 1897)
Alice Woodman (Kimball) Rice (m. 1898)
Children Phyllis Rice (b. 1890)
Richard Drury Rice (1892-1922)
Sue Durgin (Rice) Northrup (b. 1895)

Richard Henry Rice (1863–1922) was an American mechanical engineer and inventor who is known for many patents related to improvements to the Corliss steam engine, and his partnership in founding the Rice & Sargent Engine Company of Providence, Rhode Island.[1]

Early life and family[edit]

Richard Henry Rice was born 9 January 1863 in Rockland, Maine to Albert Smith Rice and Frances Weston (Baker) Rice. He received his Masters of Engineering degree from Stevens Institute of Technology in 1885. He was first married on 6 April 1887 to Mary Sue Durgin, daughter of William B. Durgin, a silversmith and clock-maker from Concord, New Hampshire, and they had three children. After the 1897 death of his first wife, Rice married Alice Woodman Kimball of New York 26 March 1898.[1]

Engineering career[edit]

Rice began his engineering career in 1885 heading the testing laboratory at Stevens Institute. From 1885-1886 he was a special apprentice at the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railroad shops in Dennison, Ohio. From 1886-1887 he was a designer of marine engines at the Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine. From 1887-1891 Rice lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts where he was the a designer and chief draftsman for the E.D. Levitt Company in Cambridgeport, Massachusetts, and from 1891-1894 he was the superintendent engineer at the William A. Harris Steam Engine Company in Providence, Rhode Island. In 1894, he was an incorporating officer in the Rice & Sargent Engine Company, and he served as treasurer of the company. Rice and Sargent steam engines were used extensively for power plants in manufacturing companies from the mid-1890s to the 1930s.[2] Rice was also an owner of the Providence Engineering Works, also in Providence. Starting in 1903 he was a consultant on steam engineering and in charge of turbine development at the General Electric Company in Lynn, Massachusetts. In recognition of over 50 patents relating to steam, air and water apparati, he received an honorary Ph.D. in Engineering from the Stevens Institute in 1921. He died a year later on 10 February 1922 in Bolton, New York.[1][3][4]

Selected patents[edit]

During his career Rice received over 50 U.S. and international patents, mostly for improvements to the Corliss steam engine and steam turbine technology.[3][5] Some of his most significant patents are as follows:

Diagram of the Rice & Sargent steam engine 1915.


Richard Henry Rice was a direct descendant of Edmund Rice, an English immigrant to Massachusetts Bay Colony, as follows:[6][7]

  • Richard Henry Rice, son of
  • Albert Smith Rice (1837 – ?), son of
  • Richard D. Rice (1810 – ?), son of
  • Nathan Drury Rice (1784 – ?), son of
  • James Rice (1758 – 1829),[8] son of
  • Richard Rice (1730 – 1793), son of
  • Ezekiel Rice (1700 – ?), son of
  • Jonathan Rice (1654 – 1725), son of
  • Henry Rice (1617 – 1711)


  1. ^ a b c p. 900 In: Marquis, Albert N. 1916. Who's Who in New England, 2nd ed. A.N. Marquis and Company, Chicago. 1192pp.
  2. ^ "Rice & Sargent steam engine at the Camillus Steam Engine Museum". American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Syracuse Section. Retrieved 19 March 2011. 
  3. ^ a b "Rice & Sargent Engine Company". The New England Wireless and Steam Museum. Retrieved 11 March 2011. 
  4. ^ Who Was Who in America. A component volume of Who's Who in American History. Volume 1, 1897-1942. Chicago: A.N. Marquis Co., 1943.
  5. ^ "U.S. Patent Office Data Base". U.S. Patent Office. Retrieved 18 March 2011. 
  6. ^ Edmund Rice (1638) Association, 2010. Descendants of Edmund Rice: The First Nine Generations.
  7. ^ "Edmund Rice descendants: First six generations.". Edmund Rice (1638) Association, Inc. Retrieved 23 February 2010. 
  8. ^ "James Rice". Edmund Rice (1638) Association. Retrieved 18 March 2011.