Charlotte Hungerford’s Copper Past

Charlotte Hungerford’s Copper Past
15 Jul 2015

By Adam Estelle, Project Engineer for the Copper Development Association

During our visit this Spring to Torrington, Connecticut, we had no idea that copper had been helping Charlotte Hungerford Hospital long before the Patient Safety Challenge.  Tim, the Communications Director and honorary historian, mentioned over lunch that they were gearing up for the centennial anniversary of the hospital which was founded in 1916.  He pulled out some old photographs from a folder and began telling us the story of Uri T. Hungerford.

Uri was the 11th child of John and Charlotte.  John was a leading industrialist in Torrington who owned a successful brass manufacturing company, and Charlotte was a civic and religious leader who was very active in the community.  John died when Uri was only 14, leaving Charlotte to manage the business and care for her family.  In spite of all this, Charlotte still managed to keep up with her charitable efforts and give back to Torrington.

By 1895, when Charlotte passed away, Uri had established the prosperous U. T. Hungerford Brass & Copper Company in Manhattan, one of the largest companies of its kind in the US at the time.  Around 1910, Uri donated $500,000 to Torrington (~$50M in 2014 dollars) to build a hospital and commemorate his mother for her “boundless energy and dedication for helping others.”  The hospital has been thriving ever since thanks to Uri’s generous donation.

charlotteWe left feeling inspired after learning about this serendipitous connection.  As it turns out, Uri even served as the Treasurer for the Copper and Brass Research Association in 1922 which would later evolve into the Copper Development Association.  It only seems fitting that copper has come back to help Charlotte Hungerford Hospital again nearly 100 years later.

The UT Hungerford Brass & Copper name can still be seen today on the original building in lower Manhattan on Pearl St.


Check out the full history of Charlotte Hungerford Hospital here:     

*Laboratory testing shows that, when cleaned regularly, antimicrobial copper surfaces kill greater than 99.9% of the following bacteria within 2 hours of exposure: MRSA, VRE, Staphylococcus aureus, Enterobacter aerogenes, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and E. coli O157:H7. Antimicrobial copper surfaces are a supplement to and not a substitute for standard infection control practices and have been shown to reduce microbial contamination, but do not necessarily prevent cross contamination or infections; users must continue to follow all current infection control practices.

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