Celebrating Black Inventors and Innovators: Part One

Happy February to all! Doug is back with part one of a new post celebrating the contributions of innovative and forward-thinking African Americans. Do enjoy!

Doug Daye

Did you know that African Americans are responsible for creating many common items that we use today? Their innovative ideas have contributed to history and helped to improve our everyday lives. Let’s honor their scientific achievements by looking through the items we have on site at Villa Finale!


The refrigerator in Villa Finale’s kitchen takes us back to those groovy colors of the 1970s.

John Standard sought to improve the way people cooked and stored food in the kitchen. He pursued scientific research on cooling devices and stove constructions, which was very limited to the Black community at the time. He created a way to improve the design of refrigerators by using manually filled ice chambers for chilling and was given a patent on June 14, 1891.

Heating Furnace

Furnace in Villa Finale’s Pewter Room. (Note: the giant stein is not part of the furnace!)

Alice Parker was well known for patented system of central heating using natural gas. After finding that her fireplace was not enough to heat her home through the cold winters, she was inspired to come up with a new design to heat homes. Her design allowed for cool air to travel into the furnace, then be carried through a heat exchanger that delivered warm air through ducts in individual rooms of a house. She received her patent on December 23rd, 1919. Thanks to her, we don’t need a stove like this anymore to get warm!!

Bicycle Frame

Cycling: not an activity for respectable young ladies!

Though he was not the first person to invent the bicycle frame, Issac R. Johnson was the first African American to invent and patent a bicycle frame that could be easily folded or taken apart for storage. It could be used for traveling on vacation and stored in small spaces. While it was a challenge for African Americans to receive patents, especially in the 1800s, Johnson succeeded and received his patent on October 10, 1899. Though they do not fold up, Johnson’s bicycle frame pattern is still used on bicycles to this day!

Furniture Caster

Victorian furniture is heavy enough. Thank you, Mr. Fisher!

Furniture workers faced the issue of moving heavy furniture while endangering their physical safety, as well as dropping furniture and damaging other items in the room. On March 4, 1876,  David A. Fisher patented the furniture caster. His design was for a free turning wheel, coupled with a few others, to allow the safe and efficient movement of heavy items from room to room. With this, Fisher improved the needs of furniture workers in the industry by making their work much easier and safer.

Stay tuned for Part 2!!!

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