Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Founder’s Day at Stevens: Happy 146th Birthday!

Portrait of Edwin A. Stevens
by Leah Loscutoff
Archivist & Special Collections Librarian

Every year on February 15th we honor the founding of Stevens Institute of Technology.  Edwin A. Stevens (1795 - 1868) was the youngest son of Colonel John Stevens and had a mind for engineering and business. He was the organizer and financier of the family.  He was described as having a “sober common-sense and strict attention to business.” His keen sense for business was one of the main reasons why Colonel John put Edwin in charge of managing his vast estate.

Edwin put more of his energy in business, but definitely was a talented engineer in his own right.  While still a young man he invented the Stevens plough, which was made and sold in large quantities under his patent.  In addition, he invented and patented in April of 1842 an airtight fire-room, an important feature found in warships of the Navy.

Portrait of Martha Bayard Stevens
When Edwin passed away in 1868 he left money in his will to establish Stevens Institute of Technology, firmly anchoring the Stevens legacy in Hoboken. With the help of his widow, Martha Bayard Stevens, Stevens Institute of Technology was established in 1870.

Martha Bayard Stevens also served as one of the original board members at Stevens, ensuring that her late husband’s vision of an institute dedicated to advanced learning was followed through in a timely manner.

The Stevens Institute of Technology is America’s first college devoted to mechanical engineering. If it were not for Edwin A. Stevens’s foresight and Martha Bayard Stevens’ dedication, there would be no great permanent memorial such as Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken.

On past Founder’s Days we have celebrated by going out to the Stevens family plot at the Hoboken Cemetery. This the 146th anniversary of Stevens...only 4 more years until the big 150th anniversary!

Stevens Institute of Technology, Act of Incorporation, 1870.
Samuel C. Williams Library, Special Collections & Archives. 

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