Published: May 17, 2021 - by Dan Holohan

Categories: Steam


This video is a recording of Dan Holohan's popular seminar Radiators and Pandemics: A Curious Marriage. It was hosted by The General Society of Mechanics & Tradesmen on March 2, 2021.

When Dan Holohan was researching his book, The Lost Art of Steam Heating, in the late-1980s, he came upon a reference to The Fresh Air Movement that made him curious. He dug deeper and learned of the relationship between steam- and hot-water radiators and the 1918-19 Influenza Pandemic. Boards of Health and the Anti-tuberculosis League were demanding that windows be left partially open to help fight disease, and this changed the way we heat buildings for decades to follow.

Mr. Holohan dug deeper still and learned that disease actually inspired the very invention of the radiator before the Civil War, and that Harriet Beecher Stowe also played a role after the war. It's a curious marriage that radiators and pandemics have, and one that continues through this modern-day pandemic.