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  • 20+ Years

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  • Heating &

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Blog | David Nelson Crosthwait Jr.


David Nelson Crosthwait Jr. was born in Nashville, Tennessee on May 27th, 1898.   He graduated high school in Kansas City, KS in 1908 where he received a full academic scholarship to Purdue University.

Later, Crosthwait moved to Iowa to work for Dunham Company. While working for Dunham Company he oversaw diagnosing heating system problems. Crosthwait specialized in air ventilation, central air conditioning, and heat transfer systems. He also designed and installed heating systems.  As his talents were recognized, he rose through the ranks of the company very quickly and was promoted to supervisor.  In the 1920s and 1930s invented a vacuum pump, a boiler, and thermostat control, all for more effective heating systems for larger buildings.  During his work with Dunham Company he designed the heating system for Rockefeller Center and New York’s Radio City Hall.

During his lifetime, Crosthwait, had 39 patents relating to the design, installing, testing, and service of HVAC power plants, heating, ventilating systems. His work helped launch the HVAC industry to what we know it as today.  He also advanced the field by writing articles and revising sections of several editions of American Society of Heating and Ventilation Engineers Guide. In the 1930s he won a medal from the National Technological Association and in 1971 he was made a fellow of the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers. Crosthwait was the first African American to receive this honor.  
David Nelson Crosthwait Jr. died in 1976, but his accomplishments have lasted much longer.