A Chapter in the Making (The First 10 Years)
Before the Golden Empire Chapter there was the Bakersfield Section of the Southern California Chapter. The section was started shortly after the 1952 Bakersfield earthquakes because there was so much damage to our public buildings. This new found work brought architects to Bakersfield and thus a new section was started. The earliest board documentation notes J. Warren Wright, AIA as the section President in 1965. He presided for two consecutive years.In January 1977, under President Carl G. Elliot, AIA the Bakersfield Section began the process of becoming a Chapter.
The board documented eight reasons they should form their own Chapter:
1. Geographical Location
2. Distance from Los Angeles
3. Different political motivations
4. We are a tighter knit group & community
5. Can better serve community as Chapter
6. More income to work with as a Chapter
7. Greater impact in community as Chapter status
8. Can possibly increase membership as Chapter
A joint meeting between the Bakersfield Section and Southern California AIA Chapter occurred at Noriega's Restaurant. They discussed economic status, potential membership and Chapter boundaries. The board estimated dues and how many members they could anticipate. They looked at possible income and expenses, offering of a scholarship, attending conventions and CCAIA meetings - many of the same topics we as a board discuss today. Possibly the most important task the Chapter undertook was selecting a name. The name was always intended to be Golden Empire but word has it one of the board members was against it. After a few drinks and more in jest, additional names were suggested such as "Bakersfield", "Kern" and "Southern San Joaquin". On May 9th, 1977 a Notice of Transfers of Membership was received by AIA National's SecretaryRobert M. Lawrence, FAIA listed the charter members of the AIA Golden Empire Chapter and went into effect on May 31, 1977.
AIA Golden Empire - 38 Charter Members
C. Barton Alford; Whitney Biggar; Nash Brown, Jr.; Wilson Call; David Cartnal; Robert Clement; David G. Cross; Laurens A. Denison; David M. Doll; Douglas G. Eddy; Robert N. Eddy; Carl Elliott; Mark Engelien; C. Robert Frapwell; Donald Gaines; Frank Ghezzi; Cliff Harding; C. Derek Holdsworth; Joseph Licastro; Ernest McCoy; Arthur Metcalf; John Mueller; W. Francis Parsons; William Paynter; Warren Pechin; Donald Renfro; Leonard Schroeder; Kenneth Sorenson; Marvin Spear; Robert Stuhr; William J. Thomas; William Tuculet; J. Warren Wright
Although the Golden Empire Chapter was chartered in 1977 the National AIA Secretary was scheduled to deliver the Charter Document at the December Dinner Meeting at Stockdale Country Club. However, due to the horrific dust storm of 1977 the dinner was canceled and the Charter was not delivered until 1978. The "Great Bakersfield Dust Storm of 1977" effectively shut down the entire city of Bakersfield for about three days. Therefore, Golden Empire Chapter’s first official President was Leonard Schroeder, AIA. The first general meeting was held on January 31, at Wool Growers. They started this new Chapter by forming eleven committees. A few of the committees formed were a By-Laws Committee, Chapter Organization, Public Relations, Ethics, Governmental Affairs and even a Certificate Design committee.
Throughout the first decade the Chapter held monthly general lunch meetings and about 3 times a year they held dinner meetings. The Golden Empire Chapter had regular spring picnics in April and an Annual Basque Dinner in October and in some years a fall picnic which included a baseball game for the members and associates. During this first decade most of the general meetings were held at Wool Growers and a few at Maison Jaussaud’s and Bill Lee's Bamboo Chopsticks.
It took five years as a Chapter before the first Design Awards in 1982 wereorganized. David Doll, AIA was the Chapter President that year. The Chapter's response to the "call for entries" produced 19 projects. The committee was well organized with committee notes including a financial outline of expected juror expenses, materials, publicity fees, trophy, and certificate costs. Attached to their committee notes was a nicely sketched trophy design with a black granite base and possible stone column. Our goal for this year's Design Awards is to replicate their design for our trophies in celebration of years past.
As this year’s president, 40 plus years later, I am proud of the Chapter we’ve become. I appreciate that the goals of 1978 still remain our focus today. My goal is to inspire our current membership to appreciate the eight reasons we decided to become a Chapter and remind ourselves that we remain a "tight knit group and community" today. Together, as AIA Golden Empire, let’s continue to lead within our membership, grow as a Chapter and thrive within our community.