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Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

WARNER, WORCESTER REED

WARNER, WORCESTER REED

WARNER, WORCESTER REED (6 May 1846-25 June 1929), a founder of WARNER & SWASEY CO. and inventor of telescopes, was born in Cunningham, Mass. to Vesta Wales (Reed) and farmer Franklin John Warner. He was apprenticed as a machinist, and by 1869 was a foreman with Pratt & Whitney in Hartford, Conn., where he met AMBROSE SWASEY. In 1880, Warner and Swasey opened their own machine-tool business, first in Chicago, but relocated in 1881 to Cleveland, which had more skilled mechanics. The firm became a leader in designing and building turret lathes used to make brass plumbing parts but its early reputation was built on telescopes. Fascinated by astronomy, Warner was sent by Pratt & Whitney to handle their exhibition at the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia in 1876. He continued experimenting with new telescopes. In 1880, the purchase of a telescope built at their Chicago plant by Beloit College put the company in the telescope business, and soon they were a major builder of equatorial mounts, known for their accurate and reliable drive mechanisms, and refractor telescopes. After 1900, the company concentrated on producing machine tools, but still built telescopes until 1970. In 1918, Warner donated a 9 in. refractor telescope to Case School. Later, he and Swasey donated money for an observatory to house this telescope and other scientific instruments. Warner was active in many scientific and professional societies. He died while on a trip to Germany, survived by his wife, Cornelia Blakemore, whom he married on 26 June 1890, and 1 daughter, Helen Blakemore Warner. Warner was buried in Tarrytown, NY.


Finding aid for the Worcester Reed Warner Papers. WRHS.