The Post's wish {editorial, July 22} for "a monument to all those anonymous tinkerers and engineers" who developed air conditioning overlooks the fact that in the Capitol we already have a monument to the little-known, but not anonymous, inventor of air conditioning and mechanical refrigeration. Dr. John Gorrie, of Apalachicola in the Florida panhandle, over the years 1838 to 1844 developed an air-cooling system for the treatment and prevention of malarial fever, which he thought to be related to heat, moisture and plant decay.

In 1845, the same year Florida became a state, Dr. Gorrie invented the process of artificial refrigeration as an economical source for ice, on which his air-cooling system was based. He applied for a patent in March 1849, and the cooling system and ice machine were announced in the Sept. 22, 1849, issue of Scientific American. His patent was granted in May 1851. (He had received a British patent in August 1850.)

Dr. Gorrie saw the advantages of air conditioning not only for health but also for work productivity, and he pointed out the commercial applications of refrigeration for storage of food. Unfortunately, he was not successful in getting financial backing for further development of his inventions, and died of a fever in 1855, a year after publishing a final pamphlet titled "Dr. Gorrie's Apparatus for the Artificial Production of Ice in Tropical Countries." He held the first patent on mechanical refrigeration, the process that gave rise, many years later, to modern air conditioning.

Nearly 60 years after his death, Florida selected Dr. Gorrie as one of the two Floridians to be commemorated by statues in the Capitol's Statuary Hall (Confederate Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith was the other). The statue was unveiled in 1914.

Dr. Gorrie held that there was "no want of mankind more urgent than a cheap means of producing artificial cold," though it took many years for his invention to result in widespread application. As The Post's editorial noted, "Washington is full of statues of people who have done less for mankind."

EDWARD M. SULLIVAN Mount Rainier