George Byron Champlin (1851-1946) was born in Providence on September 11, 1851, just after his old-line family had left their farm in southern Rhode Island to pursue new opportunities in the state's expanding capital city. George's father, Stanton B. Champlin, opened a produce business on Pine Street in the Downtown, but soon his interest turned to the jewelry industry. In 1872, twenty-one year old George joined his father to establish Stanton B. Champlin & Son in a building on the corner of Eddy and Elm streets where they began the manufacture of gold rings and gold-filled chain.
Their combined entrepreneurial skills produced immediate results. In 1885, the Champlains acquired the Campbell Machine Company in Pawtucket, and three years later, having outgrown their Eddy Street plant, they constructed a five-story brick building (now condominiums) on the corner of Chestnut and Clifford streets in the jewelry district to accommodate their growing workforce. In 1894 they acquired E. M. Dart, a small local manufacturer of pumps, valves, and pipe fittings and patented many of the former owner's inventions. The expansion continued after Stanton's death in 1895. George moved the enlarged E.M. Dart to new headquarters at 134 Thurbers Avenue (corner of Eddy Street) and also pursued real estate development, most notably by constructing the four-story Champlin Block just across from the Beneficient Church on Weybosset Street. Just after 1900 he purchased two Providence-based manufacturers and merged them to form United Wire and Supply Corporation. Clearly, George B. Champlin laid the financial foundation for the charitable foundation that bears the Champlin name.
George Champlin's son, George S. inherited the family talent for business development, but by the early 1930s—with the nation firmly in the grip of the Great Depression—George B. and George S. redirected their collective energy towards supporting worthy initiatives within their community. In 1932, the first Champlin Foundation was established. Shortly after the death of ninety-six year old George B. Champlin on October 15, 1946, his son established a second Champlin Foundation, and in 1975 a third foundation was added. Together the combined Champlin charities provide major support for a diverse array of Rhode Island non-profit organizations. In 2007 the foundations distributed more than 22 million dollars. The fund also underwrites the Champlin Scholars Program which guarantees that any graduate of a Rhode Island public high school who is accepted at Brown University as an undergraduate or a medical student will get the necessary financial aid to attend. The university has recognized the generosity of this industrialist and corporate citizen in naming the George B. Champlin Residence Hall in his honor.
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