The Society of American Registered Architects was formed on November 9, 1956 in Atlanta, Georgia by a man who believed that membership in an architectural profession should be open to anyone who carries an architectural license regardless of their role in the building and design industry. With that belief and a strong commitment to the future of the profession, Wilfred J. Gregson founded SARA. He then set forth the Credo of the Society as "Architect Helping Architect" which closely follows the Golden Rule of life.
It wasn't an easy task to convince architects from across the country to join a fledgling group, but he persevered for three years and then on September 25-26, 1959, the group held it's first conference at the Hotel Muehlebach, in Kansas City, Missouri. In that gathering, he reported to those assembled that "you are the ones who have made the first great step toward a unified profession of architects. You are a living report that will go to every part of these fifty United States...
"We have succeeded in proving that there is a great need for the Society of American Registered Architects; that there are ways such a society can be of value to each architect, his client, his town, state and nation... .We can't cure all the ills at once, but we have started and can see possibilities of great expanses...
We know that we need a central office paid staff... We can't expect any new president... to work nights, Sunday and holidays... he should have a staff of permanent employees...
"Architects must be represented before Congress. We must alert architects to the greatness, which is ours. We must teach our own people that there is a God of plenty in the heavens and that the doctrine of insufficiency is evil... You are all very dear to me, and you must return what has been given...
"We must help all architects unite all architects; open our society to all registered architects always; avoid personalities except in praise; speak well of each other; continually remember that growth is the natural pattern...
"Strong architecture can only be possible with strong architects. We must help each other to get strong and constantly aim for the good of all."
Much of that message is as applicable today as it was in 1956, and should remain as a guiding beacon to SARA members in whatever capacity they choose to become involved within the organization.
But few of SARA's members know about the man who was affectionately known as "Greg", but is listed on stationary and other publications as Founder Wilfred J. Gregson, FARA.
Wilfred Gregson was born July 5, 1900 in London and graduated in the top of his class in 1921 from England's College of Engineering and Naval Architecture. He completed additional courses in architecture at Liverpool University and London University, and then immigrated to the United States later that year. He furthered his studies in this country by completing more courses in architecture at the Pratt Institute of Design, the Beaux-Arts Institute, Hirons Atelier, Columbia University, and New York University. All this preparation enabled him to practice architecture for five years until the stock market collapse in 1929 greatly reduced construction activities. Not to be deterred with this national economic downturn, Gregson directed his time and energy to personal intellectual enrichment. He became a familiar sight to the librarians of New York City. Whatever subject he was studying that week was laid out side-by-side for him in three, some times four, different translations. As the devastating effects of the Depression lessened several years later, Gregson was retained by the U.S. Government as an associate architect, enabling him to travel to every state.
In 1939, Gregson moved to Atlanta, Georgia, and registered as a practicing architect. He also registered in Alabama, Tennessee, Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia. Shortly thereafter, he became a member of the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB), serving five years on the Architects Examination and Registration Board of Georgia.
He was awarded the 33rd-degree in Freemasonry for his education work in Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite. Besides English, Gregson speaks French, Spanish, German, Arabic and Hebrew - and reads Sanskrit and Egyptian hieroglyphs. He is the author of the book, EVIDENCES OF MASONRY IN ANCIENT CIVILIZATION.
Wilfred Gregson passed away on July 8th 1998 three days after his 98th birthday.