History – Rockwood Sprinkler Co.
“Worcester is Everywhere!” Thanks in part to Worcester’s growth during what we today know as the “Industrial Revolution,” Worcester truly is everywhere. One story from Worcester Historical Museum’s Fuller Gallery of Industrial History…
The Rockwood Sprinkler Company of Worcester was known throughout much of the U.S. and Canada for its fire-suppressing automatic sprinkler systems. The company was founded in 1906 by George I. Rockwood, inventor of the type of sprinkler heads you see in almost every public building. Just look up!
As businesses and creative non-profits are re-tooling today to address the worldwide pandemic, during World War II Rockwood Sprinkler Co. made sizeable contributions to the war effort: 20mm machine gun shell casings—the invention of Hjalmar Carlson, and firefighting fog nozzles credited with saving thousands of lives on aircraft carriers, the brainchild of Howard Freeman.
At the height of its business, the Rockwood company had 325 employees and annual sales of $1,500,000; in 1930 it became a subsidiary of the Gamewell Company. Although the factory ceased production in the mid-20th century, the building today is known as the Sprinkler Factory, the home of one of Worcester’s exciting art galleries and of many artists and creative businesses.
As you await the reopening of Worcester Historical Museum, learn more about two of Worcester’s scores of inventive geniuses:
Photo: Early testing of Howard Freeman’s fog nozzle. WHM collection