(Dec. 15, 1857-Sept. 23, 1924). A native of Richmond, Indiana, Charles Coffin Perry attended Earlham College. He was the son of Joseph James Perry, a physician who immigrated from Somershire, England, in 1840. After working first as a messenger boy and then as a telegrapher for the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago, and St. Louis Railway, Perry became the manager (1880-1884) of the Central Union Telephone Company’s Richmond exchange and then as district superintendent of the Northern Indiana & Ohio Telephone Company in Fort Wayne, Indiana (1884-1886).

The building is a large, brick, industrial structure with three smokestacks on the roof.
Citizens Energy Group’s Perry K. Generating Station, 2014 Credit: Ludo Raedts via Wikimedia Commons View Source

In 1886, Perry became the Indianapolis representative of the Jenney Electric Company and oversaw the electric street lighting of the city’s westside. In 1888, Perry and Daniel W. Marmon formed the Marmon-Perry Light Company. Among other accomplishments, the Marmon-Perry Light Company was responsible for the electrification of Park Theater (1888), the installation of the first watt-hour meter in the city, the first incandescent lighting of a private residence (1889), and the construction of the first incandescent lighting-central steam heating plant in Indianapolis (1889).

After forming the Indianapolis Light & Power Company in May 1892, Perry and Marmon acquired control of the Brush Electric Company and merged both it and the Marmon-Perry Light Company with the new company. In 1902, the partners formed the Marion County Hot Water Heating Company, which was later merged with the Indianapolis Light & Power Company to form the Indianapolis Light & Heat Company (1904). Following Marmon’s death (1909), Perry became president of the company, a position that he held until his retirement. In 1910, Perry made an unsuccessful attempt to consolidate all the city’s light and heat companies, something that did not occur until the formation of the Indianapolis Power and Light Company in 1926.

IPALCO’s plants on Kentucky Avenue and West Washington Street were renamed the C. C. Perry Steam Plant in his honor in 1937. In 2000, IPALCO sold the plant to Citizens Gas and Coke Utility (Citizens Energy Group). Now the Perry K. Generating Plant, it provides steam heat and hot water to more than 200 commercial buildings and industries across downtown Indianapolis, making it the second-largest district steam system in the United States. It also is one of the oldest operating power plants in the U.S.

Revised February 2021

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