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File:Fairman Rogers.jpg

University of Pennsylvania
Fairman Rogers by Joseph DeCamp (c. 1880s).

Fairman Rogers (November 15, 1833 – August 22, 1900) was an American civil engineer, educator, and philanthropist, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Rogers graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1853, and taught civil engineering there from 1855 to 1871. He was one of four professors who founded its Department of Mines, Arts and Manufacturers (1855), and he served as a University Trustee (1871–86). As an undergraduate, he had been a founding member of its Zeta Psi Fraternity, Sigma Chapter (1850).

He was elected to the American Philosophical Society (at age 24), was a member of the Academy of Natural Sciences, and a charter member of the National Academy of Sciences. He was the author of Terrestrial Magnetism and the Magnetism of Iron Ships (1877, revised 1883).

Rogers served in the Union Cavalry during the American Civil War, and on the engineering staffs of General John F. Reynolds and General William F. Smith. As a volunteer officer in the United States Army Corps of Engineers, he completed an 1862 survey of the Potomac River. As a member of the Pennsylvania militia, he fought at Antietam and Gettysburg.

He was one of the founders of the Union League of Philadelphia. He was a member of the First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry and, following the war, was elected its captain.

Furness and Eakins[]

As chairman of the Building Committee for the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Rogers ran the 1871 design competition for the museum-and-art-school's new building, which was won by the young firm of Furness & Hewitt. His sister, Helen Kate, was married to the Shakespearean scholar Horace Howard Furness, brother of the PAFA-commission-winning architect Frank Furness.

File:Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, Pa, from Robert N. Dennis collection of stereoscopic views.jpg

Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (1871-76), by Frank Furness.

Rogers served as chairman of PAFA's Committee on Instruction (1878–83), and changed the Academy's policy to admitting women under the same conditions and offering them the same opportunities as men.[1]

He recruited the controversial artist Thomas Eakins back to teach at the school, and commissioned an important painting from him: The Fairman Rogers Four-in-Hand (1879–80). It shows Rogers, his wife Rebecca Gilpin Rogers, and friends driving through Philadelphia's Fairmount Park. In 1882, he promoted Eakins to director of PAFA's art school.

File:A may morning in the park thomas eakins.jpeg

The Fairman Rogers Four-in-Hand (1879-80), by Thomas Eakins.

In 1883, Rogers invited the animal-locomotion photographer Eadweard Muybridge to lecture at PAFA. This led to Muybridge's moving from California to Philadelphia, and continuing his research at the University of Pennsylvania's Veterinary School.

Frank Furness designed "Fairholme" (1874–75, now altered), Rogers's summer cottage in Newport, Rhode Island. Rogers had a country house in Wallingford, Pennsylvania, and a Philadelphia townhouse on Rittenhouse Square that Furness altered for him (1871), and later altered for Alexander J. Cassatt (1888).

Rogers was an avid coaching enthusiast, founder of the Philadelphia Coaching Club, and author of what is still the definitive guide to the sport: A Manual of Coaching (Philadelphia: 1900).

Rogers and his wife had no children. They moved to Paris about 1890. Rogers died in Vienna in August 1900. He is buried in Philadelphia's Laurel Hill Cemetery.

Horace Howard Furness wrote a biographical memoir of his brother-in-law: F. R. [Fairman Rogers] 1833-1900 (Philadelphia: privately printed, 1903). A March 2007 exhibit at the University of Pennsylvania, Equus Unbound: Fairman Rogers and the Age of the Horse, highlighted materials from his papers.


  1. Edgar Fahs Smith, Biographical Memoir of Fairman Rogers (1906), p. 8.

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