Charles Donnell Marshall graduated from Lehigh with a degree in civil engineering in 1888. Together with fellow classmate Howard McClintic, the McClintic-Marshall Construction Company was formed in 1900. It took less than thirty years for M-M to become the largest independent steel manufacturing firm in the country.
Time at Lehigh
While at Lehigh, Marshall was not involved in too many extra-curricular activities, but he was one of the nine founding members of the Lehigh chapter of the Sigma Nu fraternity. He was also involved in the engineering honors society, Tau Beta Pi. Shortly before graduation, he completed his civil engineering thesis entitled, "Construction and Investigation of Brinton Ribbed Arch."
Lehigh's M&M Dormitory
To members of the Lehigh community, the McClintic-Marshall name is synonymous with the freshman dormitory built in 1957 and located on the university's South Bethlehem campus. The accomplishments of the men in whose name the building was dedicated, however, are memorialized by structures far greater than Lehigh's M&M House: the Golden Gate Bridge, the locks of the Panama Canal, and the Empire State Building.
In 1890, only two years after their graduation, Charles Marshall and his friend, Howard McClintic, along with three other associates developed the Shiffler Bridge Company. When this steel manufacturing firm was taken over by Andrew Carnegie and U.S. Steel and added to the American Bridge Company conglomerate, Marshall and McClintic decided to take on a new venture.
In that same year, the two appealed to Andrew Mellon for the funding to start another construction firm called the McClintic-Marshall Construction Company. The new business opened in Pottstown, Pennsylvania in 1900.
The company's first work order was to build a new Marshall Field's Store in downtown Chicago. From there they took off, and by 1930 McClintic-Marshall was the largest independent steel manufacturer in the country. The scale and scope of the projects they completed in their four decades of existence is nothing short of astonishing: the George Washington Bridge, the Waldorff Astoria Hotel, half of the floors in the Empire State Building, the Hells Gate Bridge over New York City's East River, the Black Hawk Bridge over the Mississippi River in Lansing, Iowa, and dozens more. It took the company two years beginning in 1927 to build the Ambassador Bridge over the Detroit River. Its 1850 foot center span made it the longest bridge in the world until the George Washington Bridge, another M-M project, was given that distinction in 1931. In 1937, the Golden Gate Bridge replaced the GW Bridge for the title with an incredible 4200 foot center span. McClintic-Marshall is known best for its work on the Golden Gate, a project that took four years to complete and required 83,000 tons of steel shipped from the East Coast to San Francisco through the Panama Canal--yet another M-M project. The locks of the canal were eighty-two feet high and each weighed about 745 tons. They were built from 1911-1914.
Acquisition by Bethlehem Steel
By 1929, the McClintic-Marshall Company had $50 million in projects a year and had a steel manufacturing capacity of 600,000 tons. In 1931, when the firm was making $8 million a year in dividends, it was acquired by Bethlehem Steel for $32 million. The company name was dissolved several years later during construction of the Golden Gate, and Marshall was appointed to Bethlehem Steel's Board.
He was also a former president of the Union Shipbuilding Company and chairman of the board of the Koppers Company of Pittsburgh.
Life Beyond the Steel Company
A 17th-Century Carolean-inspired mansion, Marshall's house was completed in Pittsburgh in 1912. In 1943 he donated his Fifth Avenue home to the city; it opened as the Arts and Crafts Center of Pittsburgh on March 16, 1945. As of 1980, the building had been renamed as the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. The building is home to artists of all genres including craftsmen, sculptors, dancers, musicians, and authors. On January 1, 2006, Pittsburgh Center for the Arts merged with Pittsburgh Filmmakers, one of the oldest and largest independent media arts centers in the country. As a matter of pure coincidence, the executive director of the combined organization is Charles Marshall's great-grandson.
Marshall and his wife of fifty year, Dora, had four daughters and two sons.