In 1897, J. W. Emerson said, “We will endeavor to furnish the handsomest as well as the best fan motor on the market. If you need relief from the heated term, try our fan motors and be happy.”
The first fan: a concept that’s almost hard to fathom in the 21st century. But relief from the heat only came in the last century with popular acceptance of the electric fan.
Since the product’s infancy, Emerson has played a key role in the development and spread of electric fans.
Emerson’s First Ceiling Fan
In 1892, Emerson introduced its first electric fan with a desk model called the Meston fan. Just five years later, its AC ceiling fan followed.
The AC ceiling fan pioneered by Emerson in 1897 changed the way public buildings were wired. Along with the invention of the elevator, the ceiling fan actually contributed to the development of the high-rise buildings.
Emerson Fans furthered high-rise building development
Just as the elevator (also dependent on the electric motor) made possible high-rise construction in the early 20th century, the ceiling fan made these high-rises habitable, since air conditioning was still decades away, and open windows in the upper reaches of tall buildings were impractical due to high winds. The sudden popularity of ceiling fans led Emerson to open a sales office in NYC in 1900, just 3 years after the product’s introduction. The ceiling fan quickly became Emerson’s mainstay.
Did you know? By 1900, St. Louis ranked as the third “electrical city” in the United States after New York and Chicago.
Emerson Fans changed the way public buildings were wired
Demand for ceiling fans exploded after 1897 when Emerson introduced the first slow-speed AC model that could be connected to lighting circuits. As an electrical engineer put it in 1904, the impact of this product was extraordinary:
“The success of this fan motor has changed the laying out of central station fan circuits. Before the introduction of this fan it was considered necessary to run separate ceiling fan circuits from a direct-current machine, and handle these fan circuits as power circuits; now the practice is to run all fans, both desk and ceiling, from the lighting circuits and thus render double wiring unnecessary.”
Emerson’s sales of ceiling fans skyrocketed as owners of public buildings, offices, factories, and hotels installed them, and architects specified them for many new buildings.
Does anyone still have one of these original fans? We’d love to see your photos!
Emerson Ceiling Fans