From Factory to Faculty

The building now occupied by Aquinas Institute was built in 1903 to house Standard Adding Machine Co., which prospered with the invention of a 10-key adding machine. The machine was a breakthrough for its time because it dramatically modernized computing. Earlier adding machines featured 81 keys, which made them cumbersome and costly, and their operators prone to mistakes. Because of the historical significance of the adding machine, this building is listed on the National Historic Registry.

Coincidentally, the inventor, William H. Hopkins, was a minister. When he moved to St. Louis in 1885, he served as chaplain and then pastor of St. Louis Second Christian Church. He continued to invent during those years, and to find better ways to make an adding machine. In the 1890s, he left Second Christian Church and became assistant editor of the company that published The Christian Evangelist.

By 1915, other companies produced and sold these more modern adding machines, and Hopkins’ business suffered. He died in 1916, and his company closed in 1921. In the decades since, this building has housed several other businesses. It was vacant from 2002 until December 2005, when Aquinas Institute moved in.