Harry Joseph Kahn was born in New York City on December 25, 1898. Harry was a student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology studying chemical engineering when WWI broke out and was active in the school’s ROTC program, but the war ended before he could serve. Receiving his degree in 1920, he subsequently became associated with the ceramics program at Rutgers. His career highlights are set forth in Helen Henderson’s submission to Tile Heritage magazine, which appeared in the publication’s Volume III, No. 2 (Click here to view.).
Harry married Hannah Morris on December 6, 1929 and they subsequently moved to Red Bank, relocating to Matawan in the 1930s and residing at both 13 and 28 Schenck Avenue during that period. Harry at the time was the Vice President of Progressive Art Tile, a subsidiary of Matawan Tile Company . Hannah was the artist who designed the tile patterns. A gifted vocalist, the Matawan Journal reported many of her performances at numerous venues throughout the community.
The Kahns operated a separate business named Harikan Art Products out of their residence and a shop on Main Street. Details of this enterprise are set forth in the Henderson article, above.
In 1937, Harry was elected president of American Legion Post #176. In August of 1942 he was commissioned as a first lieutenant in US Army Chemical Warfare Service and was subsequently promoted to captain the following March. Serving in Europe, he assisted the German ceramic industry to get up and running after the war, returning home in April of 1946.
The couple had one son, John, who went to Rutgers and Harvard Law School and currently lives in Massachusetts. He spent part of his childhood growing up on Schenck Avenue. Harry died in Worcester, Ma in 1983, Hannah in Uxbridge, Ma in 1998.
Granddaughter MJ Kahn maintains a collection of the tiles designed by Hannah and produced by Harry. The Kahns have the distinction of being one of the few Matawan families that produced something in the Borough that will be collected and admired for years to come.
The Descendant Chart for Harry Kahn is here: Descendants of Harry Joseph Kahn