“Hey, son—want to invent the ceiling fan together?”
“Sounds great, Dad.”
OK, so there’s a bit more to the story than that. The scene: upstate NY, 1886. John Hunter and son James C. Hunter are tired of the smothering summer humidity and year-round stagnant air (a big problem in that century). Also, they’re feeling particularly innovative and entrepreneurial that year.
The first ceiling fan is born.
James C. Hunter buys an interest in the Tuerk Water Meter Company of Syracuse, NY. We know what you’re thinking—boring! But not really, because with this purchase, the Hunters are able to invent the very first water-powered, belt-driven ceiling fan with whirling blades (just two blades at first). Welcome to the world, life-changing invention!
A decade later, the ceiling fan is growing up fast.
The Hunters just go for it in 1896—buying out the remaining interest of the Samuel Tuerk Company and changing its name to…wait for it…the Hunter Fan & Motor Company. As a nod to the Turek Electric Motor, which the Hunters developed, they introduce a new ceiling fan that runs on alternating current: the “Turek Type A.” (In those days, people really didn’t have the catchy name thing down yet.) The fan’s a hit—and as electricity becomes more widely available, the era of the modern ceiling fan begins.
“By the boatload, Dad. We’re shipping these fans by the boatload.”
The Turek Type A—a rugged fan with hand-weighted, balanced blades—is soon in high demand across the United States. Before long, we’re transporting these ceiling fans by the boatload to India, the Far East and Africa. (It gets hot there.)
Hunter hits the 20th century running.
It’s 1906, and things are going swimmingly. We produce our first “shaded pole” motor for alternating current, with a motor initially supplied by General Electric. This basic motor design is still in production today.
It’s the roaring ’20s—let’s get crazy.
By the 1920s, Hunter is a household name—and we decide to expand our line. We introduce a desk fan, and get this—it’s oscillating. In the 1930s we begin production on large pedestal air-circulating fans and belt-driven exhaust fans. We change our name to the Hunter Fan and Ventilating Company and start producing attic fans, too. What won’t we try in pursuit of perfection?
Shifting gears during WWII.
We focus on producing belt-driven exhaust fans for U.S. Army hospitals and barracks as well as portable ventilating and circulating fans for the U.S. Navy. In 1946, we move production from Fulton, New York, to Memphis, Tennessee (where we’re still based today).
The disco decade is good to us.
Spurred on by the energy crisis of the 1970s, ceiling fan orders skyrocket—leaving many of our dealers with a yearlong waiting list for our fans. We ramp up production in an effort to meet demand.
A new century.
In the early 2000s, we have some serious fun. We introduce the Five Minute Fan, the Auto Balance fan and the Concert Breeze—the world’s first fan with an integrated high-definition audio system. By 2009, we have offices in three countries and retail outlets worldwide.
We’re just getting started.
Well, there you have it—the history of the ceiling fan, which is, ultimately, the history of Hunter. Our story stretches across the turn of two centuries, two world wars and the Great Depression—and we feel like we’re just getting started. Today, we continue to combine 19th century craftsmanship with innovative design and technology to create ceiling fans of unmatched quality, style and whisper-quiet performance. Fans that are as tough on the inside as they are beautiful on the outside. Fans that John and James C. Hunter would be proud of more than 125 years later. Learn more about our passion for ceiling fan innovations.