The Pratt Family
The History of Pratt
On October 17, 1887, twelve young people climbed the stairs of the new "Main" building and began to fulfill the dream of Charles Pratt as the first students at Pratt Institute. Charles Pratt, one of eleven children, was born the son of a Massachusetts carpenter in 1830. He managed to scrape a few dollars together and spend three winters as a student at Wesleyan Academy, and is said to have lived on a dollar a week at times. In Boston, he joined a company specializing in paints and whale oil products. When he came to New York, he worked for a similar company and expanded the interest to Astral Oil. When the company split, Charles Pratt owned the oil business and turned it into the most successful such company in Brooklyn, eventually merging with Standard Oil.
Charles Pratt's fortunes increased and he became a leading figure in Brooklyn, serving his community and his profession. A philanthropist and visionary, he supported many of Brooklyn's major institutions including the Adelphi Academy and the building of Emmanuel Baptist Church. He always regretted, however, his own limited education and dreamed of founding an institution where pupils could learn trades through the skillful use of their hands. This dream was realized when Pratt Institute opened its doors over 100 years ago. Only four years after the opening, Charles Pratt died, leaving the job of guiding the Institute through its early years to his sons, primarily Frederic Bayley Pratt. The energy, foresight, money, and spirit Charles Pratt gave to his dream remains even today. Here careers are molded, and goals, like those of Charles Pratt, are encouraged. Inscribed on the seal of the Institute is the motto:
Be True To Your Work, And Your Work Will Be True To You