Hoosier Hall of Fame: Cummins

Ripple Effects: Cummins goes global—and brings the world to Indiana.

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This story is part of Indianapolis Monthly’s 2016 Indiana Bicentennial coverage, which includes our list of the 200 Hoosier Hall of Fame picks, designated throughout in bold or highlighted. For more on this celebration of the state’s first two centuries, click here.

 

J. Irwin Miller
J. Irwin Miller

1919

Cummins Engine Company opens in a Columbus garage

Namesake mechanic and inventor Clessie Lyle Cummins and partner William Glanton Irwin, a banker and investor, initially market diesel engines to farmers through the Sears Catalog.

The Architecture timeline:

1931

J. Irwin Miller graduates from Yale

The great-nephew of the company cofounder, Miller takes courses that instill a lifelong appreciation of modern architecture and design.

1934

Miller named Cummins Engine general manager

1942

First Christian Church built in Columbus

Created by Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen, it is one of America’s pioneering modernist churches. His son, Eero, and Charles Eames design many of the interior details.

The Eames Chair
The Eames Chair

1956

Eames releases the Eames Lounge and Ottoman

Widely known as the Eames Chair, it is one of the most iconic designs in modern furniture.

1948

Eero Saarinen wins competition to design the Gateway Arch in St. Louis

Open to the public in 1967, it will become one of America’s most recognizable landmarks.

1954

Completion of Irwin Union Bank (now Irwin Conference Center)

The first of the three Columbus commissions for Eero Saarinen—now regarded as a giant of modernist architecture—all of which are National Historic Landmarks, along with his father’s First Christian Church.

1954

Establishment of Cummins Foundation

First Christian Church of Columbus
First Christian Church of Columbus

The brainchild of civic-minded company chairman J. Irwin Miller, for underwriting architecturally significant development in Columbus.

1957

Cummins Foundation pays first of many architects’ fees

To prominent Chicago architect Harry Weese, for designing the Lillian C. Schmitt Elementary School—one of more than 50 projects the foundation will go on to support.

2012

American Institute of Architects ranks Columbus sixth among all U.S. cities for innovation and design

The Engine timeline:

1933

Introduction of the Model H

The motor, designed for transportation, launches the company’s most successful engine family.

1937

Cummins turns its first profit

Meanwhile, the rest of the country is still struggling to rise out of the Great Depression.

WWII

Cummins joins the war effort …

The company makes many of the engines for Allied convoys supplying the fronts in Europe, Africa, and the South Pacific.

1950s

… and the peace effort

Cummins engines also power much of the equipment that builds the interstate system here at home in the postwar boom.

1987

Cummins’s first partnership with Dongfeng, China’s largest truck maker

2010s

Cummins holds distinction as largest diesel-engine manufacturer in China

Annual sales in the world’s second-largest economy exceed $3 billion.

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