The Minneapolis Thermostat

This is “The Minneapolis” heat regulator that was manufactured by the Minneapolis Heat Regulator Company of Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1918. The Minneapolis model was first manufactured around 1907, when it was first patented, and the time attachment seen in this object was sold with the Minneapolis beginning in 1912. The Minneapolis regulator had a thermometer that displayed the temperature in the room, a thermostat that kept that house at an even temperature, and a time attachment that could be set to turn on the furnace when desired. A key would be used to wind the clock, a necessary feature for the clocks that were not powered by a battery or hard wired into the house’s electrical system. The Minneapolis Heat Regulator Company merged with the Honeywell Heating Specialties in 1927 to become the Minneapolis-Honeywell Heat Regulator Company.
The ubiquity of thermostats in 21st century homes shrouds the decades of innovation, industrial design, and engineering that went into making them an everyday object in almost every home. In the early 20th century, a majority of American households still heated their homes with manually operated furnaces that required a trip down to the basement and stoking the coal fired furnace. Albert Butz’s “damper-flapper” system was patented in 1886 and allowed user to set the thermostat to a certain temperature which would open a damper to the furnace, increasing the fire and heating the house. Progressive innovations allowed for the thermostats to use gas lines, incorporate electricity, turn on at a set time, include heating and cooling in one mechanism, and even connect to the internet.
Currently not on view
Object Name
overall: 9 1/2 in x 2 1/2 in x 2 1/4 in; 24.13 cm x 6.35 cm x 5.7404 cm
clock: 1 11/16 in x 2 3/4 in; 4.318 cm x 6.985 cm
overall: 9 1/4 in x 2 3/4 in x 2 in; 23.495 cm x 6.985 cm x 5.08 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Domestic Furnishings
Engineering, Building, and Architecture
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Work and Industry: Mechanical and Civil Engineering
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

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