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Henry Lomb Memorial scrapbook and program

 Collection — Volume: 1
Identifier: RITArc-0024

Scope and Contents

The Henry Lomb Memorial scrapbook and program contains materials related to the dedication ceremony of the Henry Lomb Memorial on May 30, 1932. The book includes copy prints of the design for Lomb Memorial Park; photographs of the memorial,dedication parade and ceremony; copies of photographs of Henry Lomb; and newspaper clippings about the ceremony, including one from Rochester's German newspaper, the Rochester Abendpost.


  • Creation: 1931-1932

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to researchers.

Historical Information: Henry Lomb Memorial

Henry Lomb was born on November 24, 1828 in Burghaun, Germany. Since his mother died when Lomb was five years old and his father died four years later, Lomb lived with his uncle from the age of 12. A cabinetmaker by trade, Lomb came to the United States on May 1, 1849 and found work in Rochester, NY.

While in Rochester, he met John Jacob Bausch. Bausch was also a German immigrant and was trying to establish himself as an optician in the Rochester area. Unfortunately, eyeglasses were not as common in the United States as in Europe at the time and were seen as a luxury item. In 1853, Bausch approached Lomb about becoming a partner in an optical company, asking Lomb to invest his $62 savings. Lomb accepted this proposal and continued to provide financial support for the optical company over the next few years, but remained uninvolved in its daily operations. It was not until 1885 that Lomb took on an active role, peddling Bausch's wares in nearby towns. Lomb would announce his arrival in a town in its local newspaper and distribute handbills telling people where he would be staying. A successful salesman, Lomb was able to keep the business afloat, though the company continued to sink in debt.

At the start of the U.S. Civil War, Lomb enlisted with the 13th Regiment of the New York State Volunteers, a group that became known as the "Fighting Thirteenth." His unit was deployed on May 14, 1861 and participated in many important battles including the Battle of Fairfax Courthouse, First Battle of Bull Run, Hanover Courthouse, Second Battle of Bull Run, Battle of Antietam, and Battle of Fredericksburg. During his service, Lomb earned the title of Sergeant, Lieutenant, and ultimately Captain. Throughout the war he continued sending $13 of his paycheck to Bausch to support the operations back in Rochester.

Lomb returned to Rochester after the war and married Emelie Klein in 1865. While he was gone, Bausch came up with the idea of making frames from rubber instead of horn. This transition led to decreased production costs and increased sales. For the first time since it started, the small optical company earned a profit. Lomb moved to New York City for 13 years to manage sales for the company, returning to Rochester in 1879. The firm expanded its operations and began producing lenses for a variety of purposes including microscope, binocular, and camera lenses. By 1890, Bausch & Lomb Optical Company had established itself as a major manufacturing force in Rochester, employing over 3,000 employees and producing 15 to 20 million lenses per year.

Lomb was well-liked by the employees of the company. He installed a library and reading room in the factory to encourage professional development and created a low-cost lunchroom to ensure that employees were receiving nutritious meals. Additionally, Lomb formed a mutual benefit society for his employees in 1881, an early form of insurance.

As demonstrated by the company's library and reading room, Lomb understood the importance of technical training and education. Noticing that employees often learned necessary job skills on the job, Lomb began considering options for a preliminary training school. Lomb, along with Max Lowenthal, introduced the idea of a school to the major manufacturers in the Rochester area in 1885. On November 23, 1885, the newly formed Mechanics Institute started its first evening class. This mechanical drawing class was free to students and attracted over 400 individuals. Lomb served as the Institute's first president, staying on until it merged with the Rochester Athenaeum in 1891. A strong believer in the school's mission, Lomb often paid for things out of his own pocket, contributing roughly $80,000 to the Institute throughout his lifetime. The Rochester Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute changed its name to the Rochester Institute of Technology in 1944.

Lomb was also involved in many philanthropic efforts in the city of Rochester. He funded the city's first dental clinic in 1903 and organized the Rochester Public Health Association. As chairman of the Flower Committee for the Grand Army of the Republic, Lomb started a movement to have school children grow flowers and plant them on veterans' graves on Memorial Day.

Lomb died on June 13, 1908 in Pittsford. A public funeral was held at the Convention Hall and he was buried in Rochester's Mt. Hope Cemetery. He was survived by his wife and two sons, Adolf and Henry Charles.

On May 30, 1932 (Memorial Day), a Henry Lomb Memorial was unveiled in downtown Rochester. The art deco monument was designed b y Walter H. Cassebeer, a well-known architect in the Rochester area, and Louis J. Brew. It was presented to the city of Rochester by the Bausch and Lomb families and accepted by Rochester's mayor, Charles S. Owen. Located in Lomb Memorial Park at the east end of the Bausch Memorial Bridge, the 48 foot monument stands on a pink granite base and is made of polished Minnesota granite. The corners are embellished with cast aluminum and the structure can be lit up at night. The Lomb Memorial was revealed to a crowd of over 40,000 people, following a parade and a dedication speech by F. Trubee Davison, the Assistant Secretary of War at the time. A plaque on one side of the monument reads (written under the direction of Rush Rhees and John Rothwell Slater of the University of Rochester):

DIED 1908


2 Item(s) (1 volume )




Scrapbook commemorating the dedication of the Henry Lomb Memorial in downtown Rochester, NY. Henry Lomb was co-founder of Bausch & Lomb and a prominent citizen of Rochester during the late 1800s. The collection also contains a program from the dedication ceremony.


Collection materials are contained in a leather portfolio case.

Physical Location

C.S. South, Shelf 545

Processing Information

Finding aid created by Lara Nicosia in November 2010.

Henry Lomb Memorial scrapbook and program
RIT Archives
Lara Nicosia
16 November 2010
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the RIT Archives Repository

Rochester NY 14623 USA