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John Saylor Coon Building Specifications

Identifier: MS010

  • Staff Only


John Saylor Coon was the first Mechanical Engineering professor at Georgia Tech. This collection consists of building specifications he wrote and a newspaper article.


  • 1899-1973 (bulk 1899-1910)
  • Majority of material found within 1899 - 1910


General Physical Description note

(one document case)

Restrictions: Access


Restrictions: Use

Permission to publish materials from this collection must be obtained from the Head of Archives and Special Collections.


0.4 Linear Feet

Scope and Contents

The undated building specifications are all handwritten by John Saylor Coon. The first one describes a twelve-room dormitory, including the placement of windows, closets, and chimneys. Following this is a request for bids to build this and an eight-room dormitory, whose specifications are detailed in Folders 3 and 4. The final building specification concerns a mess hall for the students. These specifications may be for the Georgia Tech dormitories known as "The Shacks" and the mess hall, all built in 1896 and razed ca. 1925.

An Atlanta Journal news article from 1973 includes a photograph of an old air compressor used by mechanical engineering students during the early part of the 20th century.

Biography of John Saylor Coon

The study of mechanical engineering was relatively new at the end of the 19th century. It was necessitated by the rapidly expanding need for manufacturing all types of products in the early wake of the industrial revolution. So when Georgia Tech opened its doors in 1888, the sole degree offered was Mechanical Engineering, with a curriculum modeled after the hands-on trade school of Worcester Free Institute as opposed to the engineering analyses of Boston Tech (now Massachusetts Institute of Technology).

The first chair of the mechanical engineering department was John Saylor Coon, a charter member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. He worked in the mining and minerals industry before becoming a professor at the University of Tennessee in 1888 and at Georgia Tech in 1889. Coon also eventually became superintendent of the commercial Tech shops.


The materials have been kept in original order.


Louis A. Cavalli, a Georgia Tech mechanical technician, kept photographs and building specifications written by J. S. Coon in his home until he donated them to the School of Mechanical Engineering in April 1985. The School then donated this collection to the Archives in September 1985 (Accession #86-01-13).


Eight photographs have been separated to VAM010.

General Physical Description note

(one document case)

Processing Information

Yen M. Tang processed these papers in 2000.

Inventory of the John Saylor Coon Building Specifications, 1899-1973 (bulk 1899-1910)
Yen M. Tang
Copyright 2002.
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Archives and Special Collections, Library, Georgia Institute of Technology Repository

Georgia Institute of Technology
266 4th Street, NW
Atlanta 30332-0900 USA