What Is the Newcomen Society of Alabama?

The mission of the Newcomen Society of Alabama is to promote the free enterprise system by selecting and honoring a successful and respected institution or organization that exemplifies the best qualities of free enterprise. Such recognition comes at an annual banquet attended by the Society’s members and their guests. During the banquet, a leader of the organization or institution being honored tells its story and, later, his or her remarks are captured in a documented history that is published and distributed to members, libraries, colleges and universities. 

The Newcomen Society of Alabama can be traced back to the 1937 establishment of the Alabama Chapter of the prestigious Newcomen Society of the United States, which was modeled after the Newcomen Society of England. 

L. F. Loree, a leading railroad executive, founded the Newcomen Society of the United States and served as its first president. The organization spread across the country under the leadership of its second president, Charles Penrose, president of a successful electric engineering consulting company in Philadelphia. Thomas W. Martin, CEO of Alabama Power Company and a prominent civic leader, served as the first chairman of the Alabama Chapter of the Newcomen Society. 

In the late 1950s, the Newcomen Society of the United States had more than 50 active chapters and more than 10,000 members nationwide. Following Penrose’s death and the loss of his dynamic leadership in 1958, membership across the country began to gradually decline — even though the quality of the remaining members remained as strong as ever. 

By 2007, national membership stood at only 2,000. Fortunately, the Alabama Chapter of the Newcomen Society proved an exception to the trend of declining membership. Its ranks grew steadily throughout the years, rising from 300 in 1960 to almost twice that number today and, in 2007, it was the only national chapter to hold a meeting. When the Newcomen Society of the United States disbanded in 2008, the Alabama chapter was incorporated as the Newcomen Society of Alabama to carry on the traditions of the national organization. 

True to its own history, the Newcomen Society of Alabama remains committed to preserving, protecting and promoting the American free enterprise system by honoring organizations and institutions that demonstrate outstanding growth, service, innovation and achievement. As sole user and guardian of the Newcomen name, the Society also stands ready to cooperate with other states to revive or create additional Newcomen Societies in the United States in support of those same goals.