A brief History of ASHRAE and some Pittsburgh Members

(Early History to 1995)

(The following articles were from the Steel City Review 1995-1999)

ASHRAE as we know it today, officially began operation on January 29, 1959 when The American Society of Refrigeration Engineers and The American Society of Heating and Air-Conditioning Engineers joined together.  Just five years earlier, in 1954, ASHAE had come into being when The American Society of Heating and Ventilating Engineers decided to change their name by dropping out "Ventilation" and replacing it with "Air-Conditioning".  Upon merger with ASRE, once again the name was changed and the R for "Refrigeration" added.  Thus, we have the familiar ASHRAE name which many of us commonly refer to as "ASH-RAY".

ASRE largely grew out of the efforts of Mr. William Ross for a new organization to fulfill the needs of a rapidly expanding refrigeration industry.  Some of the early refrigeration engineers were members of The American Society of Mechanical Engineers.  ASME programs rarely dealt with refrigeration topics hence the refrigeration engineers were left to huddle in some corner to discuss the interests of their growing industry.  Thus, ASRE was formed at an inaugural meeting on December 5, 1904 in New York City.  Mr. John Starr was elected president.  Prior to mechanical refrigeration all cooling was provided by the melting of ice.  Naturally it was common to relate the capacity of early refrigeration equipment to their capacity to replace ice.  Soon after its founding the society undertook measurements to determine a standard ton.  It wasn't until 1920 however that ASRE and ASME agreed on a universal definition of a standard ton.

Hugh J. Barron is considered the founder of The American Society of Heating and Ventilating Engineers.  Angry over the decision of the Master Steam and Hot Water Fitters Association to limit the discussion of papers presented at their meetings, Barron and L. H. Hart, manager of the publication Heating and Ventilation, decided to form a new organization.  On September 10, 1894 in New York City with 75 charter members in attendance, The American Society of Heating and Ventilating Engineers was established.  In January of 1895 Mr. Edward P. Bates was installed as president of the society.

Of those 75 charter members, 3 were from the city of Pittsburgh.  In 1894 it must have taken considerable time and effort to travel to New York, attend a meeting and return to Pittsburgh.  I'm sure that such a trip was not taken lightly.  The three charter members from Pittsburgh were:

  • Mr. George Coleman Blackmore
  • Mr. Joseph A. Langdon
  • Mr. Robert Monro

Of the three charter members, two continued in the Heating and Ventilating business.  One established a firm which is still in operation in the Pittsburgh area today.  The third charter member, Mr. Robert Monro, we discovered, was very difficult to trace.  At the society founding, his address was listed as #68 Conestoga Building, Pittsburgh, PA.  According to the records of ASHVE Mr. Monro did not maintain his membership after 1897.   In the records of 1897 his last known address was listed as 25 Wood Street.

A search of the Allegheny County Prothonotary’s records did not turn up any record of the death of Mr. Robert Monro. Either his estate was never probated or he may have moved from the County prior to his death.

To locate anyone who is a descendent of Mr. Monro or a member of his family, we made many calls to the Monro listings in the Bell Atlantic telephone directory.  Unfortunately, many of the Monro listing are related and know each other.  None of them had any knowledge of the Robert Monro and we are seeking to learn more about his life.

At the Carnegie Library we could not find a listing for a Mr. Robert Monro who was a vice president of a firm called Reinke, Wilson and Company. (1)  This firm was located at 200 Smithfield Street and dates to about 1870. (2)  The company was a plumbing and gas fitting supply house.  In addition, they maintained a skilled crew of workmen and took contracts for the installation of all types of plumbing systems, steam heating and natural gas piping in buildings.  The company was also the local distributer for the Goulds Manufacturing Company, a manufacturer of water well pumps.  We do not know if this is the same Robert Monro who was a Charter Member of ASHVE.  We believe it may have been since the steam heating and fitting business was a very large part of the business of the company for whom he served as a vice president.

The Blackmore family was prominent in the early days of ASHVE, predecessor of ASHRAE.  The family traces its roots to the highlands of Scotland. Early in the 19th century John Blackmore migrated to the south of England where his son James was born.  James was survived by his son William Blackmore who immigrated to Toronto Canada about 1840 where he obtained a position as mechanical engineer with the Grand Truck Railway Company.  George Coleman Blackmore was born in Toronto on July 19, 1866. He grew up in Toronto and received his education in the public schools of Toronto and St. Thomas.  In 1866 he moved to New York City and engaged in business as president of the Blackmore Heating Company.  Interestingly, two of George's brothers also had immigrated to New York and were also engaged in the heating business and charter members of ASHVE.  They are Mr. Joseph J. and L. R. Blackmore.

Sometime before the turn of the century, George C. relocated to Western Pennsylvania.  As a Charter member, his home is listed as Pittsburg (the h is missing), PA.  George organized the United States Radiator and Boiler Co. at West Newton, PA.  In 1910, the company was reorganized and merged into the United States Radiator Corporation, Detroit, MI.  Mr. Joseph J. Blackmore, his brother, was also associated with this company and became the manager of the manufacturing division.  From 1914 through 1918 Mr. Blackmore was with the National Radiator Co. of Johnstown, PA which was merged in 1922 with his own Company, the Federal Radiator Co. of New Castle, PA.  In 1922 the Automatic Gas Equipment Co. was organized and Mr. Blackmore became president in 1925, a position he held until his death.   He was a pioneer in hot water heating and in the development of steam radiator and gas/steam radiators. (Yes, there was such a thing.)  In 1931 the Council of ASHVE made him a Life Member.  Mr.  Blackmore died at 75 on May 20, 1942.

Mr. Blackmore married Jennie Bell McIlwain of Kittaning, PA in 1896.  In 1905 they built a large home on Maple Ave. in Edgewood.  Mrs. Blackmore died in 1933.  Mr. Blackmore was very active in the Edgewood Presbyterian Church serving as both a trustee and president of the board.  He was a thirty-second degree mason and a member of the Syrian Temple.  The Blackmores were survived by 5 children, Virginia B. Blackmore, Pittsburgh, Norman L. Blackmore, Edgewood, George W. Blackmore and Mrs. Dorthea Blackmore Lemmon, Philadelphia, and Mr. James S. Blackmore, an ASHRAE member, Tucson, AZ.

For many years the name of Langdon has been familiar to those in the building trades in the Pittsburgh area.  Father and sons have been actively engaged in the business of heating, piping and contracting.

Joseph A. Langdon was born in Monongahela, PA, August 16, 1853. He was educated in the public schools of Pittsburgh where his family moved while he was still and infant.  Early in life it became necessary for him to become self-supporting and he learned the heating business.  He became highly skilled in the heating business and took on the responsibilities of a heating engineer.  At the time of the founding of ASHVE, in 1894, we are not sure of the title of the Langdon business.  It was not incorporated until 1914 as Joseph A. Langdon and Sons.  Two years later, in 1916, Mr. Langdon retired after being active in the heating business for 46 years.  He died on June 22, 1918 leaving the management and operation of his business to his family.  At that time, the business was valued at $80,000 for tax purposes and employed 75 people.  Mr. Langdon was a man of high ideals and public spirit and was for many years a member of the Knights of Columbus.

Joseph A. Langdon was married to Rebecca A. Orr of Pittsburgh.  Their four children are: Joseph Daniel; Pearl (Mrs. Williamson) of Pittsburgh; T. Wallace and Margaret.  Both sons, Joseph and T. Wallace attended Carnegie Institute of Technology before entering the business with their father.  At the death of Mr. Joseph A. Langdon, Mrs. Rebecca A. Langdon became president; T. Wallace Langdon, Vice President; Joseph D. Langdon, secretary-treasurer; and Margaret Langdon, office assistant in the firm which continued as Joseph a Langdon and Sons Company.

In 1959 the company was purchased by Mr. Harold Kashub and renamed Langdon and Kashub.  Both Harold and Art Kashub have been active in the company.  The firm continued under this name until purchased by Mr. Daniel Whalen in 1971 and renamed the Q Dot Division of Langdon and Kashub.  Daniel Whalen added the Q dot taking it from the familiar symbol "Q" commonly used to denote heat flow in load calculations.  Mr. Kevin Whalen reports that the Company is now primarily in the service and maintenance business of heating and air-conditioning equipment. They are also active in air and water balance, system commissioning, and building automation.  Like ASHRAE, this business has made many changes since its founding. Something to be proud of.

David E. Glenn, PE Chapter Historian 1995

(Longtime employee of Westinghouse Electric Corporation)

Transcribed and edited by Mark Wolfgang, - Chapter Historian 2017-2019