Lockwood Greene, one of the nation's oldest engineering firms, traces it roots to 1832, when Rhode Island native David Whitman began a machinery repair service. Riding the wave of the early industrial revolution in textile manufacturing, Whitman added mill design services to his repertoire, which formed the backbone of a flourishing consulting business for the rest of the century. Whitman was one of the first itinerant mill engineers or "doctors" that traveled throughout New England advising various industrialists on the placement, design, and construction of their factories and the layout of the complicated system of machinery and shafting that they contained. His largest commission was the design of the Bates Manufacturing Company complex in Lewiston, Maine, which was incorporated in 1850 and soon became one of the largest textile producers in New England.
Upon Whitman's death in 1858, his unfinished work was assumed by Amos D. Lockwood, a prominent mill agent and astute businessman who had built a name for himself in Connecticut and Rhode Island. The successful completion of the projects at Lewiston brought enough additional demand for Lockwood's services to prompt him to relocate to Boston, where he formally opened an independent consulting office with partner John W. Danielson in 1871. For the next ten years, A.D. Lockwood & Company was involved in a least eight major mill design projects, half of which were for new construction. One of these projects, the design and construction of the Piedmont Manufacturing Company in Greenville (now Piedmont), South Carolina was especially significant and is considered to be a prototype for the Southern textile industry.
In 1882, Lockwood established a new business, Lockwood, Greene and Company, with Stephen Greene, a professionally-trained civil engineer who had joined the firm in 1879. As the firm grew, it expanded its scope as consultants supplying all of the necessary architectural and engineering services a prospective owner needed to initiate, equip, and run a complete plant. Acting as the owners' representative, the company supervised construction and installation but did not directly act as builders or contractors. Lockwood
Greene's objective expertise was legendary and made it a leader in this emergent field. As Samuel B. Lincoln explains in his history of the company:
"The new firm's knowledge and experience in the textile industry enabled it to analyze samples of cloth and, from such samples, to provide everything necessary for a completed plant to make such goods in any desired quantity. It did not at any time act as selling agents for machinery or equipment, neither did it accept commissions or rebates from suppliers: by this policy it maintained a position as impartial and independent engineer." (pages 105-107)
Greene became president of the company upon Lockwood's death in 1884. Under his leadership, the company expanded into additional industries and designed an array of other industrial building types that would prefigure the diversity of later work. In 1893, the company revolutionized American industry by designing and constructing the first factory whose operating power was provided entirely over electric wires from a remote power plant, rather than relying upon a water source or a stockpiled fuel supply. The Columbia Mills project created a great deal of publicity for the firm and was a signal to other manufacturers that there were viable alternatives to the use of steam power.
As changing economic conditions led Lockwood Greene to move away from its traditional reliance upon the textile manufacturing industry, it was very successful at soliciting projects for a wide variety of structures, from newspaper plants and automotive factories to convention halls and schools. After 1900, Lockwood Greene expanded its operations and opened branch offices in other cities, including Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Detroit, Atlanta, and Charlotte. In 1915, Edwin F. Greene, president and son of Stephen Greene, reorganized the firm as Lockwood, Greene & Company, Incorporated This new entity served as the parent company and controlled three subsidiaries: one to own and operate cotton mills that Greene had acquired; one to manage other companies' textile mills; and one to provide engineering services.
Lockwood Greene expanded its operations tremendously as the textile industry boomed under wartime demand and in the years following. The severe textile depression from 1923 to 1928 caused the collapse of this structure, however, as Lockwood Greene continued to suffer deep losses in the textile mills that it owned. The parent company was dissolved in 1928 and the engineering subsidiary, which had remained profitable, was salvaged as Lockwood Greene Engineers, Incorporated.
After a rocky start with the onset of the Depression, the company began to prosper during the Second World War and its growth continued steadily throughout the next several decades. In the late 1960s, as a result of declining business, the company's headquarters was transferred from Boston to Spartanburg, South Carolina. In 1981, Phillipp Holtzman USA, a subsidiary of Phillipp Holtzman AG of Frankfurt, Germany, acquired a majority interest in Lockwood Greene. In 2003, CH2M Hill, a global provider of engineering, construction, and operations services based in Denver, Colorado, acquired the company.
From its beginnings under David Whitman, Lockwood Greene has become one of the most diversified engineering firms in the United States. The firm is best known as a designer of industrial and institutional buildings, but the company has become a leader in many additional areas in recent years. Lockwood Greene dominates the market in the design and production of the germ- and dust-free "clean room" facilities required by the pharmaceutical industry and micro-electronics manufacturers. The company has also developed expertise in designing integrated security and networking systems for industrial plants, international port facilities, and military installations worldwide.
Banham, Raynor. A Concrete Atlantis: U.S. Industrial Building and European Modern Architecture, 1900-1925. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1986.
Biggs, Lindy. The Rational Factory: Architecture, Technology, and Work in America's Age of Mass Production. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996.
Bradley, Betsy Hunter. The Works: The Industrial Architecture of the United States. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.
Greene, Benjamin Allen. Stephen Greene: Memories of His Life, with Addresses, Resolutions and Other Tributes of Affection. Chicago, R. R. Donnelley & Sons Company, 1903.
Heiser, William J. Lockwood Greene, 1958-1968, Another Period in the History of an Engineering Business. Lockwood Greene Engineers, Incorporated, 1970.
Lincoln, Samuel B. Lockwood Greene: The History of an Engineering Business, 1832-1958. Brattleboro, Vermont: The Stephen Greene Press, 1960.
Lockwood Greene Engineers, Incorporated The Lockwood Greene Story: One-Hundred-Fifty Years of Engineering Progress. Spartanburg, South Carolina: Lockwood Greene Engineers, Incorporated; undated.