Havemeyer Hall was built between 1896 and 1898 under the leadership of Charles Frederick Chandler. It provided research and teaching facilities for faculty and students specializing in industrial, inorganic, organic, physical, and biological chemistry. Pioneering research done here led to the discovery of deuterium, for which Harold Clayton Urey received the Nobel Prize in 1934. Six others who did research here subsequently received the Nobel Prize, including Irving Langmuir, the first industrial chemist to be so honored, in 1932.
The Decew Falls Hydro-Electric Development was a pioneering project in the generation and transmission of electrical energy at higher voltages and at greater distances in Canada. On 25 August 1898 this station transmitted power at 22,500 Volts, 66 2/3 Hz, two-phase, a distance of 56 km to Hamilton, Ontario. Using the higher voltage permitted efficient transmission over that distance. The Cataract Power Company of Hamilton Limited (the predecessor to the Dominion Power and Transmission Company) was organized in 1896.
This run-of-the-river plant is a typical example of late nineteenth-century small-scale (750 kilowatt) low-head hydroelectric power technology. The Fries Manufacturing and Power Company began operating the Idol's Station on April 18, 1898, making it the first commercial hydroelectric plant in North Carolina involving long-distance power transmission, fourteen-miles distance at 10,000 volts. Idol's was an important power source for transportation, lighting, and industry in the Winston-Salem area.
In his search for a more economical way to make aluminum, Canadian inventor Thomas Leopold Willson accidentally discovered the first commercially viable process for making calcium carbide, which is used for production of acetylene gas, at a location in North Carolina. This chance discovery produced a series of products, from improved lighting in remote locations to the synthesis of a host of organic substances.
The plaque commemorating the event reads: