The Smead System of Warming

smeadsystem.pngNot precisely Albany, but we couldn’t help but notice this advertisement in the 1894 guide to Albany schools for the Smead System of Warming, Ventilation and Sanitation for School Buildings. They were very concerned about the physical state of teachers. “For teachers and children to breathe over and over air loaded with foul gases and organic impurities thrown off by lungs and skin, is just as filthy as if they should drink the water in which they have bathed, and is much more injurious to health.”

Luckily, there was a solution. The Smead System, in fact. It was no experiment, but precisely what it was is not explained here. It is explained in a voluminous 1889 tome by Isaac Smead of Toledo, Ohio, with the fittingly voluminous title of “Ventilation and Warming of Buildings, Upon the Principles as Designed and Patented by Isaac D. Smead.” (Yeah, it’s on Google Books.)

The book is more of a hoot than this ad, beginning with a fictional interview question from an unnamed Dr. ____:

“Good morning, Mr. Smead; I am glad to find you in your office and alone. [Creeper alert] I am told that you are the largest manufacturer of warming and ventilating apparatus in America; and, being very much interested in the subject, I have called to get such information as you may feel disposed to give.”

Mr. Smead, you’ll be surprised to learn, was more than disposed to answer his fictional doctoral alter ego:

“I am glad to see you, Doctor, and if you are disposed to be influenced by facts rather than by theories, and will devote the necessary time to a full investigation, and then state your conclusions in a positive, definite manner, I will devote an hour or two a day to the subject, and when we are through I have no fear concerning the opinion you will hold.”

Oy. It does go on. Albany already had 5 buildings using the Smead system. We can assume the teachers working in those buildings maintained the rose in their cheeks.

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