In 1906, Paul Norcross, the grandson of the second Mayor of the City of Atlanta and a graduate of the Georgia School of Technology (Georgia Tech) Class of 1902, partnered with Gabriel Solomon to form Solomon and Norcross. The Firm engaged in general consulting throughout the South, covering all classes of municipal and hydraulic work. In 1910, a branch office was opened in Watervliet (West Troy), New York, and a partnership of Solomon, Norcross and Keis was formed. This new partnership was responsible for completing a number of projects in the northeast. Mr. Solomon, referred to as the Senior Partner, was known to travel extensively both nationally and internationally in an effort to evaluate technologies and applications that could be beneficial to the Firm.
From 1910 through WWI, the Firm’s practice area was primarily focused in the southeastern United States. During this period, the City of Atlanta was undertaking significant construction projects to improve public health. These projects included the construction of the Intrenchment Creek and Peachtree Creek sewage disposal plants. Mr. Norcross was very active in the community and believed that the responsibilities of the civil engineer transcended the right politics and was not afraid to take controversial positions. In an editorial written by the Atlanta Constitution in January 1913, Mr. Norcross advocated for the separation of storm and sanitary sewers, stating that “a double system of sewers is absolutely indispensable… the opinion of Paul H. Norcross, consulting engineer of the City, of wide training and experience. His views are interesting, as presenting an exact negative to the advocacy of a single sewer system put forth by Chairman Claude L. Ashley of Council’s Committee on Sanitary Affairs.” This was the first of many debates that have taken place on this issue over the past 90 years.
The Firm completed its first water reclamation (sewage treatment) project in 1911. The project was constructed for the Fulton County Board of Commissioners at a cost of $2,824 ($240,000 indexed to 2006) with a capacity of 20,000 gallons per day. The Imhoff Tank with Sprinkling Filters was constructed in what today is referred to as Chastain Park in Buckhead on the north side of the City of Atlanta.
One of the Firm’s first major water supply projects was constructed in Watervliet (West Troy), New York. A young Engineer named Herman Wiedeman was hired to manage the construction project in New York, which included a large dam for flood control and water supply holding 2 billion gallons, a water purification plant, hydroelectric generation and a water supply distribution system at a cost of approximately $600,000 ($52 million indexed to 2006).
Mr. Solomon retired in 1918 after serving as a Captain in the Army and the Firm continued practice as Paul H. Norcross Consulting Engineer (Norcross and Keis for northeastern projects until 1923). The Firm relocated to the 14th floor of the Candler Building in Atlanta. Mr. Norcross requested Herman Wiedeman move to Atlanta and work on projects in the southeast. Mr. Wiedeman was named the Principal Assistant Engineer of water purification, water supply, hydro power generation and hydraulic projects for the Firm.
During the 1920’s the Firm managed work on behalf of the city of Atlanta as the City undertook a $3.5 million bond program for infrastructure improvements. The City of Atlanta received 12 bids for the construction of the “complete filter plant at Hemphill water works station including filters and filtered water reservoir, with all connections between the plant and the present system.” This contract was awarded to Case and Cothran for $633,000 ($44.2 million indexed to 2006). The project increased capacity from 21-MGD to 42-MGD.
Mr. Norcross was very active in civic affairs, serving as President of the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce in 1924, and on the Board of the Atlanta Rotary Club as well as many other organizations. He was a nationally recognized expert on water resource protection serving on the Board of Review for the Chicago Sanitary District, a unique honor and professional distinction. Mr. Norcross also served as the first Georgia Section President for the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) in 1917.
It was an untimely tragedy for the Engineering profession in 1925 as the steamer H.E. Norman carrying delegates of the First Annual Convention of the Association of Engineers (predecessor to ASCE) of the Mid-South, capsized in the Mississippi River south of Memphis, Tenn. with 22 persons losing their lives, including Norcross. A ceremony was held commemorating the service of Mr. Norcross on the campus of Georgia Tech. The unveiling ceremony on the lawn of the Tech Tower was widely attended by the leaders of the Engineering industry, and the commemorative bench and plaque placed there continues to be a reminder of his service.
In 1925, Micajah “Mike” Singleton and Herman Wiedeman purchased the Paul H. Norcross Company from Mrs. Norcross with a loan from First National Bank.
Mr. Wiedeman started his career with Solomon and Norcross in 1916. He had received his degree in Civil Engineering from the Renesseleer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in 1912. He was responsible for managing the Firm’s construction work in New York. In 1917, Herman was commissioned as a Captain and served as an Instructor for the Army Corps of Engineers then returned to Solomon and Norcross in Atlanta.
Following the untimely passing of Mr. Norcross, Mr. Wiedeman was appointed as the City of Atlanta’s Engineering Consultant for the water system. Wiedeman and Singleton seamlessly assumed responsibility for completion of a number of projects already underway. One of these projects, later named the R.B. Sims Plant, included a hydroelectric generating facility and water supply reservoir. The project, completed in the late 1920’s, produced enough power to operate the water treatment plant as well as sell power to the local power supplier. The project cost approximately $1.3 million ($50 million indexed to 2006) and had a capacity of 6-MGD at the time of completion.
In 1928, another important project began construction in the city of Kingsport, Tennessee. The water intake on the Holston River required tunneling to supply 550 feet of head to the De Laval water turbines for power generation. The new water plant provided 2-MGD for the growing industrial demands of Eastern Tennessee. In addition to leading design of water projects, Mr. Wiedeman served as the first Chairman of the Southeastern Section of the American Water Works Association (AWWA) in 1929, the predecessor to the State organizations. The South Carolina Section provides an annual award for leadership in the profession that was established
in 1965 in Herman’s honor.
Mr. Singleton was the first licensed Engineer in Georgia and was the first civil engineer and Chairman of the Board of Registration for Professional Engineers for which he served 20 years. At six feet five inches tall, very few missed Mr. Singleton’s presence. He attended Georgia Tech and served as a Captain in WWI where he was involved in combat operations serving overseas with the 2nd Engineers, 2nd Division.
Mr. Singleton had numerous technical accomplishments. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) credits Mr. Singleton for the “first complete sewage treatment plant constructed in the State of Georgia.” This primary treatment plant provided disinfection. The plant was later named the RM Clayton Wastewater Treatment Plant. As an assistant to Paul Norcross, he focused almost exclusively on sewage collection and treatment projects. He was past President of the Georgia Section of ASCE (1936), and a charter member of the Georgia Engineering Society and Georgia Society of Professional Engineers.
In the late 1930’s, war was beginning in Europe and President Roosevelt was unable to assist Great Britain due to the anti-war sentiment here at home. Chip Robert of Robert and Company had been a major factor in the Roosevelt campaigns and was asked to help the country prepare for war on a “pro bono” basis. Wiedeman and Singleton agreed to help as well. The Price Administration took over the entire Candler Building to administer rationing and the Firm moved to the corner of Marietta and Broad Street (former C&S building). The Firm was assigned the task of locating land for Army camps and Air Force bases, design of Army cantonment, ammunition bag loading plants, warehouses and industrial buildings, in addition to water-related infrastructure. Much of the Firm’s resources were dedicated to the war effort with approximately 200 engineers and draftsmen dedicated to designing military facilities.
The Firm’s largest military project included the design and construction management of the Coosa River Ordinance Plant at a cost of $10,000,000 in 1941 ($300 million indexed to 2006). The Plant was responsible for “bagging” munitions for use in the war effort.
The Firm was active in supporting the war effort and sales of U.S. war bonds.
The investment in water and sewer infrastructure during WWII slowed dramatically. Following the war, the pent up demand for
water and sewer infrastructure resulted in significant growth in the sector as well as consolidation. Stewart and Associates, based in
Florida, merged with Wiedeman and Singleton as well as Wallace and Clauser of Tennessee, and the Firm expanded rapidly as a result. In 1952, the Firm relocated to West Peachtree near 5th Street to air conditioned office space.
Mr. Singleton passed in 1959 after a long and successful career. As a result, the partnership was reorganized in 1960 and included Herman F. Wiedeman, C. E. “Eddy” Drumond, Jr., R. C. “Bob” Kauffman, Lowell Cady, WM. J. “Bill” Greene, Jr., Theodore W. “Ted” Wiedeman and John Herman Wiedeman. Herman passed in 1961 and Atlanta Mayor Hartsfield noted that “Mr. Wiedeman’s personal contributions to the City were many and his death is a great loss.” The Firm continued a regional focus on water supply, treatment and distribution, and wastewater collection and treatment. In the early 1960’s the Firm included associates L.H. Clouser,
George Hornsby, C.Q. Nevitt, Clark White and W.E. Williams. The Firm moved to 1789 Peachtree Road in 1962.
Ted Wiedeman started with the Firm prior to WWII, but was ultimately commissioned as an Officer and served overseas in the Army Corps of Engineers for the duration of the war. Upon his return, he completed his education at Georgia Tech only to be called back to service in the Korean War. Upon returning, Ted managed a number of large projects including the President Street Wastewater Treatment Plant in Savannah, Georgia. This Treatment facility had unique geotechnical design requirements, and innovative solutions for pilings produced an award winning facility.
Ted was responsible for one of the first two-stage trickling filter treatment plants in the southeast with pneumatic controls. The project was a success and ultimately met the evolving criteria for secondary treatment in addition to reducing costs. Ted was also known for his relationships and frequent travels to Washington DC. Ted had an excellent relationship with Senator Lyndon Johnson (ultimately President Johnson), as well as the Georgia delegation, and often assisted clients like Bainbridge and Cartersville in handling complex regulatory issues dealing with the Army Corps of Engineers. Ted was a unique example in battling against all odds and continuing to work for more than a decade while suffering from an incurable disease that ultimately took his life in 1978.
William J. “Bill” Greene, Jr. started with the Firm in 1932 while attending Georgia Tech and began full-time in 1935. He served in the Army during World War II and ultimately retired as a Lt. Colonel from the Reserves. He became a Partner in 1960 and Managing Partner in 1970. Bill was largely responsible for rural clients across the Southeast and this required extensive knowledge of water resources as well as the local utilities and elected leadership. He served as the Georgia Section President of ASCE in 1965. Bill served as President of Georgia Association of Water Professionals (GAWP), and during his tenure operator certification became a requirement.
He is recognized annually by GAWP for contributions to the profession. Bill was also very active in the community and served as a Scoutmaster for the Boy Scouts of America for more than 40 years.
Mr. Lowell Cady had a unique background among the Firm’s Principals starting his career with Solomon and Norcross in 1922. He was born in China, the son of missionaries, and could not speak English when he was enrolled in Andover Academy. Lowell ultimately continued his education and received an engineering degree from MIT. He was referred to Wiedeman and Singleton by the Keis firm in New York and relocated to Atlanta. Mr. Cady was well known for his commitment to the WWII war effort working 12 to 14-hour days 6 and 7 days a week designing military bases and airfields. Lowell was active with operations personnel and led the Firm’s effort with facilities start-up and operations assistance.
Mr. Charles E. Drummond Jr., “Eddy,” started with the Firm in 1933 and managed the drafting department in addition to his own engineering projects. Mr. Drummond was a graduate of Cornell College and focused in structural design and the design of sewage and waste disposal plants. Though the draftsmen did not have engineering degrees, they were an integral part of the production process. Many of the Firm’s engineers and draftsmen remained on staff for 40 years or more and the Firm was able to produce design on a massive scale as the economic engine of the Southeast began churning. Mr. Drummond served as the Georgia Section President of ASCE in 1954 and 1955.
Mr. R. C. “Bob” Kauffman attended Loyola as well as Georgia Tech. He started his career with Wiedeman and Singleton in 1933 working his way through all fields of practice into management. Mr. Kauffman worked on a number of Atlanta projects including the design of the Chattahoochee Water Treatment Plant. He was well known for his talent as a draftsman in addition to being a fine engineer and spent much of his time in the drafting room. He was also known for a rather distinctive walk resulting from a rattlesnake bite on the leg.
In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s much of the Firm’s technical leadership retired or passed and in 1978 the Firm suffered a
tremendous loss with the passing of Ted Wiedeman. The Firm had provided technical leadership as a steward in water supply for
nearly 72 years, but with the loss of the City of Atlanta as a client dating back to 1910, deceased and retiring partners and rising
capital obligations, a critical decision had to be made – would the Firm continue? “I truly did not evaluate any other option” John Wiedeman says in speaking of the decision to purchase the Firm and repay the debt obligations of the Partnership. As a result, the Firm incorporated in 1978 with John Wiedeman as the sole shareholder until 1995. John Wiedeman became an internationally recognized Engineer serving as the first National President of the American Society of Engineers from Georgia in 1983.
Today, the Firm continues a regional focus of planning, designing and managing construction of large projects throughout the
Southeast. The innovations in treatment technology combined with innovations in information technology are revolutionizing the
The membrane water filtration plant in Monroe, Georgia is an example. It was the first permitted and largest membrane water filtration plant operating in the State of Georgia with a capacity of 10-MGD.
The Firm maintains leading edge technical capabilities with a focus on the client and balancing the need to protect the interest of ratepayers with environmental stewardship. The Firm has expanded its practice to include management consulting, independent peer review and technical auditing in addition to the core practice area of planning, design, construction management and operations assistance for everything water.
In 1995 and 2001, the ownership of the Firm was expanded to include
John Wiedeman, Peter J. Johns, Pete Snyder, Gary Trott, Hal Wiedeman,
Justin Wiedeman, Troy Began, Carl Schneider and Bill Whitley.