4.9. THE FINALE: DAY TWO

In the following morning’s session, St. Louis’ Charles Illsley asked to clean up the minutes that recorded the confusion of the consolidation process by offering the following resolution:

Resolved, That the Western Association adjourned sine die after unanimously instructing their directory to take all necessary steps to relinquish the charter of the Western Association, and to transfer all its properties to the American Institute.  The certified lists of members of the two associations were now presented and the persons named therein were recognized as members of the American Institute, which unanimously amended their constitution and by-laws, which had been duly submitted thirty days in advance of this convention. [To which he added:]  I think we do not want all the proceedings of yesterday to be recorded in our minutes.  I offer that as an instruction to the secretary.”

Hunt directed Bloor to amend the minutes, but the fact remained that Sullivan’s concern that the consolidation process should have been thoroughly thought out before the convention never rang truer.

Speaking of Sullivan, neither he nor his partner attended the convention that was the culmination of the West’s reformation, an effort in which they had played a very active role.  The completion of the Auditorium at this time (Opening night was scheduled for December 9, 1889, less than three weeks away), unfortunately, required their constant supervision, to which Adler confessed as much in a letter he sent to the convention.  The letter’s main intent, however, was Adler’s desire to be the one to nominate Hunt to be the first president of the new organization.  Once both nomination committees had submitted their list of candidates, Carlin rose to read Adler’s gracious nomination:

“… Another cause for regret at my absence from the convention is the hope I entertained of being the one to nominate for the presidency of the newly organized Institute one who, through the past thirty years, has been our leader in the development of the artistic phase of modern American architecture, and who has been the teacher and mentor of more than a score of the best of the younger architects, a man who has been in all his relations to his clients, to the public, and to the profession, truly a cavalier without fear and without reproach, and who, advanced in years, still retains the virility and elasticity of youth in his work and in his intercourse with the world.  To forego the privilege of nominating for the presidency of the American Institute of Architects Mr. Richard M. Hunt, is a deprivation that I shall ever regret.”

The nominations were then closed, at which point Hunt responded:

“Pres. Hunt:  Before we proceed, I must confess that the letter has taken my breath away.

The president, overcome by his feelings, sat down and covered his face with his handkerchief amid great applause.  After the excitement had somewhat subsided, Mr. Carlin addressed the secretary as follows:

Mr. Secretary, I would move you sir, that the election of Mr. Richard M. Hunt as president of the newly organized Institute be made unanimous. (Which was seconded by many voices)  All those in favor of that motion please make it manifest by saying “aye.”  (A storm of “ayes.”)  It is entirely unanimous.  (Loud and prolonged applause.)

Pres. Hunt:  Gentlemen, I thank you most sincerely for this expression of your confidence.  I will do all that I can do to aid in carrying on the good work of the Institute, the union that has now been consummated, and let us hope that it will be fruitful of good work in the right direction, and that it may be everlasting.  And I think I express the feelings of everyone present in saying, “So say we all.” (Great applause.)”

Adler’s letter had also nominated Bloor to continue in his capacity as the second most important position in the organization, Secretary, but this apparently exceeded the former W.A.A.’s (who now had a majority of members) magnanimity in victory.  The remaining four executive positions were filled with W.A.A. stalwarts: W.W. Carlin, First Vice-President; James McLaughlin, Second Vice-President; Samuel Treat, Treasurer; and Secretary, was given to the man recognized by his peers as the pivotal figure in bringing reform to the A.I.A., John Wellborn Root.  Adler and Illsley were elected to three-year terms on the Board of Directors, while Burnham’s name was still nowhere to be found in any of the convention’s proceedings.  In fact, indicative of his political seclusion following the personal rebuff he had earlier received in the last W.A.A. presidential election, Burnham not only did not attend the convention, but was also not even nominated as one of the eleven substitutes to fill any vacancies that might occur on the new A.I.A. Board of Directors.  

The day-to-day affairs of the new A.I.A. were to be governed by the Executive Committee, that in addition to the President (Hunt), Secretary (Root), and Treasurer (Treat), consisted of four elected directors.  Adler, Carlin, E.H. Kendall (New York) and R.W. Gibson (New York) were so chosen, giving the W.A.A. an undisputed 4-3 majority in running the new association.  The W.A.A.’s control over the new A.I.A. was all the more consolidated with Root’s election as Secretary to replace Bloor, for now all official A.I.A. correspondence was funneled not through New York, but through Root’s new office in the Rookery. Contrary to what Hunt had envisioned for the convention in his opening speech, the W.A.A. had indeed “rung out the old” guard of New Yorkers that had controlled the old A.I.A.

FURTHER READING:

Saylor, F.A.I.A., Henry H., “The First 100 years of the A.I.A.,” J.A.I.A., May 1957.

“The Consolidation Convention of the American Institute of Architects and the Western Association of Architects,” Inland Architect, November 1889.

(If you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to eMail me at: thearchitectureprofessor@gmail.com)

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