Wednesday, June 4, 2014

City nominates Dr. John Gorrie for Induction into Florida Inventors Hall of Fame

Dr. John Gorrie

Apalachicola City Administrator Betty Webb told commissioners at the regular monthly meeting held last night that she prepared and submitted an application that nominates famed physician, humanitarian, scientist, inventor and Apalachicola resident Dr. John Gorrie (1803-1855) for induction into the newly established Florida Inventors Hall of Fame located at the University of South Florida in Tampa.

By all accounts Dr. Gorrie is considered the father of modern day refrigeration and air-conditioningnoted for his invention of a machine that manufactured artificial ice and transformed a worlda transformation that began with the tragic Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1841.

In 1841, an outbreak of yellow fever was reported to have been responsible for thousands of agonizing deaths alone the Gulf Coast from New Orleans to TallahasseeThere were about 200 cases of the disease reported in Apalachicola alonethe number of deaths untold.  However, those contracting the fever either recovered or died with the disease killing anywhere from 12 to 70 percent of its victims.

Gorrie Museum 

In an attempt to cure the fever, Gorrie used ice cut during the winter months in the northern lakes and shipped to the Gulf Coast for purchase to cool the hospital rooms of his sick patients. A process that started Gorrie’s experimentation with making artificial ice.

Subsequently Gorrie build a machine that received a U.S. patent in 1850 to do just that and in the process laid the groundwork for modern day refrigeration and air conditioning that brings comfort to billions of people around the world today.

There’s a statue of the famed inventor on display in the National Statuary Hall Collection in Washington, D.C., donated by the State of Florida in 1914.  

Gorrie's Final Resting Place

Here in Apalachicola to honor Gorrie’s contribution to mankind, a city square bears his name and a monument erected in his honor is situated on a quadrant of the square and there’s the Gorrie Memorial Bridge that spans the Apalachicola River, and a museum that bears his name sits across the street from his final resting place.

Hopefully, through the efforts of Webb Dr. Gorrie will now be part of the inaugural class of honored Florida inventors inducted into the Florida Hall of Fame at an induction ceremony and gala schedule for September 10, 2014 in Tampa.