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Reports and other documents relating to the ventilation of the school houses of the city of Boston online

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not always existed. It should be recollected, that
the stoves and furnaces now in common use, are of
comparatively modern date ; and moreover, that the
ample fireplaces which they have displaced, always
proved perfectly efficient ventilators, although, it is
true, somewhat at the expense of comfort and fuel.
But in closing the fireplaces, and substituting more
economical methods of warming, evils of far greater
magnitude have been entailed upon us.

It is evident, that, in order to carry into operation
any complete system of ventilation, there must be
connected with it some apparatus to regulate the
temperature of the air to be admitted, as well as to

* See Diagram, p. 15,


ensure its ample supply. Your Committee have ac-
cordingly examined, with much care, this part of the

A majority of the buildings are furnished with
" hot-air furnaces," situated in the cellars ; the re-
mainder with close stoves, placed in the school rooms

In our endeavors to introduce in this department,
the improvements which seemed to us absolutely es-
sential, we have encountered serious difficulties.
Most of the furnaces possess great heating powers,
— indeed much greater than are necessary, if the
heat generated by them were properly economized,
or could be made available; — but, as now con-
structed, they are worse than useless, consuming
large quantities of fuel, and, at the same time, so
.overheating the air which passes through them, as to
deprive it of some of its best qualities, and render it
unsuitable for respiration, although it is difficult to
define, with precision, or by analysis, the changes
which take place in air subjected to the action of
metallic surfaces, at a high temperature.

It has been ascertained, by repeated examinations,
that the temperature of the air, when it arrives at
■^a^" the rooms, through the very small warm air pipes
now furnished, is often as high as 500° and 600"
Fahrenheit. Of course, it is entirely impossible to
diffuse air, thus heated, in the parts of the room oc-
cupied by the pupils. Much of it passes rapidly out
of the windows, which may be open ; the rest to the
ceiling, where it remains until partially cooled, grad-
ually finding its way down by the walls and closed
windows, to the lower parts of the room. The con-
sequence is, that while much more caloric is sent
into the apartment than is requisite, many of the pu-



pils are compelled to remain in an atmosphere which
is at once cold and stagnant.

A reference to the subjoined diagram will explain
at once, the present state of the Ventilation of the
school houses.

a. Heated air from furnace.

b. Hot air escaping through open window.

c. Cold air entering through open window.

These difficulties are inherent in the structure of
the furnaces ; and they cannot well be obviated, by
any other method than by rebuilding or replacing

The boxes, which admit the cold air to the fur-
naces, are much too contracted ; some of them being
only a few inches square, when their capacity ought
to be nearly as many feet. The air enters the " cold
air" chamber of the furnace, at its top, whence it is
intended to be carried down between thin brick walls,
(which should be cold, but which are often heated to
300° Fahrenheit,) to the lower part of the furnace,
and thence into the " hot air " chamber, and so on
to the rooms above. It is obvious that the " hot-
air " chamber must be heated to a temperature far
beyond that of the " cold air " chamber, in order to


compel the air, against its own natural tendencies,
to pass into it with any velocity or volume, and the
very attempt to accomplish this, almost defeats it-
self; as, by driving the fire for this purpose, the
" cold-air " chamber becomes still hotter, so that at
iKst the contest is decided only by the greater calor-
ific capabilities which the iron plates possess over
the brick wall. At any rate, the temperature of the
iron fire pot is frequently raised to a red or even a
white heat^ by running the furnaces in the ordinary
way. This soon destroys them, and they require
consequently to be frequently renewed.

Your Committee arc satisfied, that the present
state of the school houses daily impairs the health of
the pupils and Instructors, and the efficiency of the
schools for the purposes of instruction ; that its
continuance will produce, not only immediate dis-
comfort and disease, but, by its effect upon the con-
stitutions of the children, who must pass in them a
large portion of those years most susceptible to
physical injury, will directly and certainly reduce
the amount of constitutional vigor hereafter to be
possessed by that large mass of our poi)ulation,
which now and hereafter is to receive its education
in these schools.

With regard to the expenditure necessary- to com-
plete the improvements which your Committee re-
commend, they are of tlie opinion, that the alarming
evils referred to in this Report, may be at once, and
entirely and permanently removed, at an average ex-
pense of two hundred and fifty dollars for each
school house, now built. And by availing ourselves
of some recent improvements, which have been
made in this Citv, in the fonn and construction of a


part of the necessary apparatus, we hope to reduce
its cost, and at the same time increase its efficiency.
But the Committee have no douht, from actual
experience of the effects ah-eady produced by the
experiments which they have superintended, in two
school houses, that all the expense of any alterations
which may be required, to warm and ventilate our
school houses upon rational principles, and in a tho-
rough manner, will be more than saved to the City,
in two or three years, in the item of fuel alone, if
the system which they propose is adopted, and faith-
fully carried into operation.

[The Eeport then details some experiments upon
the Eliot School house, and describes the plans
adopted to ventilate the Endicott School house.
These can be omitted here, as all their essential
features are comprised in the diagrams which illus-
trate the final Eeport. The following drawing is
given to show the mode adopted for introducing and
supplying warm air to the houses and apartments,
such as recitation rooms, primary school rooms, &c.,
which we found heated by close stoves?\^

The drawing (page 18) exhibits a section of a stove,
enclosed by an outward casing of sheet iron, or tin,
so as to make a large chamber around it, into which
the fresh air may be admitted and warmed. The
arrows show the course of the air through the stove.
It is supplied from an air-box opening under the
inner cylinder and connecting with the fresh air by
means of an aperture cut through the outer wall of
the building. The suspended top regulates the tem-
perature, and gives a lateral direction to the warm air.



The Committee propose the following as an outline
of the best general plan for warming and ventilating
the school houses.

1. The air must be taken from a pure source and
from the higher parts of the building, if any impuri-
ties are found to exist near the surface of the ground.

2. In order to ensure a constant and abundant
supply, the air shaft when carried above the building
must be surmounted with a cowl or hood of some
kind, with its mouth turned towards the wind.

3. The fresh air should in all cases be carried
entirely beneath the furnace. If the cellar is wet
and the situation low, the underground culvert, or
channel, should be of brick, laid in cement.

4. The furnace chamber should be so large that
it can be entered at any time, without the necessity
of taking down walls, for the purpose of repairs, or
to observe the temperature. A large earthen pan
for the evaporation of water should not be omitted.
This should be kept ])erfoctly clean, and the water
required to be frequently cliauged.


5. A thermometer should be constantly at hand,
and the temperature in the ivarm-air chamber should
never he allowed to exceed that of boiling water. A
still lower temperature is often desirable. If this
point is secured, the hot air can be conducted with
perfect safety into any part of the building.

6. The openings for the admission of the warm
air into the rooms, should be as numerous as possi-
ble. The long platform occupied by the teachers,
might be made an excellent diffusing surface.

7. Openings of ample size must be made in the
highest points of the ceiling, to be connected at the
top of the roof with a turn-cap or louvre, the former
being always surmounted with a vane. It is better
that the ceiling should be perforated at its centre,
and there is no objection to running the ventilating
shaft, at first, horizontally, if the perpendicular and
terminal portion of it is of considerable length.*

8. It is well to have a power of some sort, ivithin
the apparatus at its top, for the purpose of compelling
constant action and of increasing the force of the
apparatus, whenever the state of the weather, or the
crowding of the room, renders it necessary. For this
purpose, the most convenient and economical means
are furnished by a gas burner, an argand lamp, or a
stove ; and one of these may be in constant readiness
for use, when neither the velocity of the wind, nor the
low temperature of the external atmosphere, are
sufficient to produce the desired effect.

9. All the openings and flues for the admission of
pure air, and the discharge of the foul air, should be
of the maximum size ; that is, they should be calcu-
lated for the largest numbers which the apartment is
ever intended to accommodate.

* See page 31 of Final Report.


10. Valves must be so placed in the flues as to
be easily regulated without leaving the rooms into
which they open.

11. The best average temperature for school-
rooms, is from 64^ to 68° Fahrenheit ; this range
including that of the healthiest climates in their best

12. For the purpose of summer ventilation, and
for occasional use in moderate weather, fireplaces of
good size may be constructed in the new houses.
They should always be double, and furnished with
chambers communicating with the open air.

13. Each story of the building must be warmed
by a Furnace or Stoves, appropriated exclusively for
its own use.

Before concluding this Report, your Committee

cannot avoid expressing the confident belief, that a

\ suitable consideration of the evils, whose existence

i they have proved, is only necessary to ensure their

speedy removal.

It has been already shown, that healthy blood is
essential to the proper vital action of the organs of
the human body, and that the healthy condition of
the blood, depends entirely upon the act of respira-
tion ; that, t o breathe air d e])ri yed of its oxy gen,, or »
containing any thing which prevent s the necessary
changes in the blood, is to_bi -eathe disease and death .

We can subsist without food, for days, or even
weeks. We might spend our whole lives, under
some circumstances, without clothing or shelter; and
yet, while almost all the energies of civilized society
are exerted to obtain these things, in their various
forms of comfort or luxury ; with a most surprising
disregard of the dictates of common sense, and a


want of discretion which is no where else exhibited,
we exclude from our best houses, by every means in
our power, that vital fluid, without which no respi-
ratory being can exist for a single hour.


Boston, December 30, 1846.


In School Committee, December 30, 1846.

Ordered, That the Committee on Ventilation be
and hereby are directed to adapt to each School
room of the Common Schools such apparatus, if any,
as may be required to secure to them proper venti-
lation in Winter and Summer, and make such alter-
ations and arrangements of the furnaces as may be

Attest, S. F. McCleary, Secretary/.


In order to obtain the requisite means for carrying
out the intentions of the School Board, the Commit-
tee on Ventikition memorialized the City Council.
The subject was referred to a Special Joint Commit-
tee, who made thereupon a Ilq)ort, as follows :

The Joint Special Committee to whom was re-
ferred the petition of the Sub-Committee of the
School Committee, asking an appropriation to im-
prove the ventilation of the Grammar School Houses,
have attended to the subject, and ask leave to


The petitioners appeared before the Committee,
and set forth the great importance that attaches to
the subject of having pure air where great numbers
are congregated — especially where those masses are
constituted of children. They stated that in two of
the Grammar School Houses, they had caused a ven-
tilating apparatus to be constructed, which had been
in operation nearly a year.

The experience of this period authorized them to
state, first, that the air of the rooms had been greatly
improved, — and in the second place, that the expense
of warming the rooms was diminished one half, be-
sides a great saving in the consumption of the cast-
ings of the furnace.

Such were the representations of the petitioners.

In order to be fully satisiied, the Committee visited
the Endicott School, where the apparatus was in
operation. The day was exceedingly wet and disa-
greeable, and yet the air of the rooms was found in
an unobjectionable condition. The masters fully sus-
tained the representations of the petitioners ; and


from their statements, as well as from their own ob-
servations, the Committee were satisfied of the bene-
ficial efiects of said apparatus.

In order, however, to have a more full investiga-
tion of the matter, the Committee, on a subsequent
day, visited the Johnson School and the Boylston
School. The day was dry and cold, and they found
the air in the Johnson School in a tolerably good
condition. This is a girls' school; and it is well
known that the pupils in such schools are neater,
and attend in cleaner and more tidy apparel, than
the pupils in the boys' schools.

In the Boylston School, however, the Committee
found the air very disagreeable and oppressive ; and
they could not but feel the importance of executing
some plan of relief.

From the earnest representations of the petition-
ers, and from the result of their own examination,
the Committee are of the opinion that the prayer of
the petitioners ought to be granted ; and they there-
fore recommend the passage of the following order ;
all which is respectfully submitted.


Ordered^ That the sum of Four Thousand Dollars
be appropriated for the purpose of improving the
ventilation of the Grammar School Houses — the
same to be expended under the direction of the Joint
Committee on Public Buildings — and be chai'ged to
the appropriation for School Houses.

In Common Council^ Jan. 21, 1847.

Sent up for concurrence.

GEO. S. HILLARD, President.

In the Board of Aldermen, Jan. 25, 1847.
Read and concurred.



In School Committee, December' 9, 1847.
The Committee upon Ventilation respectfully


That in obedience to the order of this Board, and
in pursuance of the plans laid before it in a former
Report, your Committee have diligently applied
themselves to the duty of ventilating the School
Houses — a labor, whose difficulties, could they have
been fully anticipated, might have prevented its ac-
complishment, at least by the members of this Com-
mittee. Although the members of the building
Committee of the City Council have personally ex-
tended to us every reasonable courtesy, yet we can-
not avoid the impression that the provisions of the
Charter which deprive this Board of the control of the
plans of the School Houses were framed with a very
unwise disregard of the best interests of the Schools.

But notwithstanding the intrinsic difficulties of
this undertaking^ increased as they have been by the
causes last named, your Committee cannot deny
that it is with much satisfaction they now announce
its completion. For we think it is no more than
just to express our sincere opinion that the Grammar
School Houses of Boston are now in a better condi-
tion, in respect to their ventilation, than any other
public Schools in the world.

We have said that the work was complete. It is
so substantially — for although many things still re-
quire to be done, in order to make every house in


all points equal with the best, yet, with the examples
we have given, and the plans and specifications we
shall submit, accompanying this Report, it is a mere
mechanical work, as time and opportunities offer, to
make each one in all points all that can be desired.

The plans, to which we refer, have been adapted
in various ways, and with a variety of apparatus, as
the circumstances in each case seemed to require, to
sixteen Grammar School Houses, the buildmg occu-
pied by the High and Latin Schools, and besides
these, to twenty-five large rooms used for Branch
or Primary Schools. To all of these we have caused
to be affixed the necessary flues, tops, and other ap-
paratus for discharging the foul air ; and they re-
quire nothing more for that purpose. We have al-
tered, enclosed, or rebuilt, twenty-one stoves and
furnaces, and set and supplied with the ducts, valves,
&c., twenty-six of the new ventilating stoves, herein-
after described. A few houses still require stoves or
furnaces or alterations of the same, of which a list
is herewith appended.

The diversity of arrangement and the modifications
in our plans into which we have been compelled by
circumstances, have had their advantages, and ena-
bled us to arrive at the best results, and to satisfy
ourselves entirely in regard to the particular set of
apparatus which we can recommend with confidence
for future use as decidedly the most effective and

We have therefore furnished drawings and specifi-
cations of the set of apparatus wiiich we recommend.

Furnaces. — The only Furnaces belonging to the
Scliool Houses which we have thought worth re-
building are those of ]\Ir. Preston. They are very
substantial, require but little repairing, and are easily
managed. They are open to sufficient objections.


however, we think, to make it undesirable to furnish
any more where new ones are to be supplied ; and
they are simply these : The whole radiating surface
is of heavy cast iron : it is therefore slow in becoming
warmed so as to affect the air chamber ; and the fur-
naces, for the same reason, are not economical as con-
sumers of fuel. The fire-place is of brick, and in this
respect it is very much superior to most other fur-
naces in which the iron fire pot itself is made the
principal means of heating the air.

The other Furnaces which have been in use in some
of the houses are so objectionable, on account of the
frequent bursting of their pots and the escape of the
deadly gas into the air chamber, as well as for other
reasons, that we have thought the matter of sufii-
cient importance to be made the subject of a special
communication to the Committee of Public Buildings.

Your Committee have made themselves acquainted
not only with all the Furnaces which have been man-
ufactured in this place, and its neighborhood, but
with all those which have been exhibited here recent-
ly. Most of them show much ingenuity of contri-
V9,nce and excellence of workmanship ; but are all,
so far as we can judge, inferior in many respects, to
the one, a model and plans of which we now exhibit,
and recommend as superior to all others.*

It is simple in its structure, easily managed, will
consume the fuel perfectly, and with a moderate fire.
It is fitted for wood or coal. The fire place is broad
and shallow, and is lined with soapstone or fire-brick,
which not only makes it perfectly safe and durable,
but modifies very materially the usual effect of the
fire upon the iron pot.

The principal radiating surfaces are wrought iron,
of a suitable thickness for»service, while at the samis

* Invented by Mr. Chilson. (See page 2S.) Also, Appendix, D.



time the heat or the smallest fire is communicated
immediately to the air chamber. The mode of set-
ting this Furnace we consider essential ; more espe-
cially the plan of admitting the air to the furnace at
its lowest point, as it then rises naturally into the
apartments above. This process commences as soon
as the temperature is raised even a single degree.
The outer walls remain cold ; the floor above is not
endangered, and the whole building is rapidly filled
with an atmosphere which is at once salubrious and
delightful. The proprietor of this Furnace very lib-
erally offered to make such improvements upon its
original forai as your Committee thought necessary
or desirable, at his own cost. He has also allowed
one to be set in the Mayhew School House under our
direction, where it may be seen in contrast with one
of the old furnaces set in the old way.*

Sertion of Old Furnace. Sec p. 15.

r|*nv«./^^ '^'>^>a •* Since the nbove lend, the p r o jui'-tcr.-i of the old furnace have re-
placed the old pot, (wiiiih had cracked) and enlarged the air box to three

times its former bIzs.



The cold-air channel to this furnace is four feet by
nearly tivo — and the warm-air flue, which is of brick,
lined with cement, is ahout three feet, by one and a
half (See Appendix D.)

For the -houses which we found without the Hot
Air Furnaces, as also for the Eecitation and other
single Eooms, the invention of a Stove which should
answer the same purpose became essential. One was
therefore contrived ; and having been found in its
earlier and ruder forms to be of great utility, it has
since been improved in its appearance, as well as in
the convenience of its management.

Elevation and Section of the Ventilating Stove.



These Stoves are composed of two cylinders, the
inner containing a fire chamber, which is lined with
soap stone or fire brick, while the outer constitutes a


chamber for warming the air, which is introduced in-
to it l^encatli tlie inner cylinder, from an air box di-
rectly connected with the external atmosphere.
They possess the following advantages : —

1. They are in fact furnaces^ having distinct and
capacious air chambers.

2. They insure, when properly set, that supply of
fresh air, which is indispensahle to the proper ventila-
tion of any apartment.

3. The Regulating Distributor, which is movable
or fixed, as may be desired, determines Mith great
accuracy the amount and temperature of the admit-
ted air.

4. The outer cylinder is never hot enough to bum
the person or clothing, or to be uncomfortable to
those who are situated in its immediate vicinity.

5. They are constructed with the utmost regard to
efficiency, durability, compactness, and neatness of

These Stoves have been furnished to the Schools
whenever your Committee have required their use,
and at manufacturers' prices, without any profit what-
ever to the Inventor and Patentee.^

They may be used with advantage in the largest
rooms, when the cellars are unfit for Furnaces, or
when it is preferred to have the fire in the room it-
self The Johnson, Wells, Ilawes, and Winthrop
School houses are warmed entirely by them.

Ventiducts. The discharging ventiducts have been
made in various ways — some of wood, some of metal,
and others of " lath and plaster." Some have opened
at the ceiling only, und in but one part of the room,
while others have been equally divided at opposite
sides of the apartment. Our rule is this : — If the
Heating Apparatus is at one end of an oblong room,


the ventiduct is placed at the opposite. If the store
or furnace flue is at the middle of the longest side,
the ventiducts are placed at each end, and are of
course reduced to one half the size of the single one.

The hest manner of constructing them is shown by
the drawings, and described on page 33.

There is great economy in carrying the boxes to
the floor in all cases. In this way the room can be
kept warm and the air pure in the coldest and most
windy days.

The registers at the top and bottom can be used


Online LibraryBoston (Mass.). School CommitteeReports and other documents relating to the ventilation of the school houses of the city of Boston → online text (page 2 of 3)