Austin Chapter - 066

A Brief Chapter Historical Summary


During the early 1950’s, several heating and ventilation industry leaders in Austin would drive to San Antonio to attend meetings of ASHVE (American Society of Heating and Ventilating Engineers).   The Southwest Texas Chapter of ASHVE also included the south Texas and Corpus Christi areas.  After a while, several of the members began to think the trip was pretty long for a week night with heavy loads during the work day ahead, and regular attendance at the meetings began to diminish with enthusiasm waning.

As early as 1953, several of the regular attendees from Austin began discussing forming a local independent Chapter of ASHVE.  Early members of the group were Mr. Frank Frazee, Mr. B. Segall, Jr.  (1st President 1956-57), Mr. Atwell Lagow (2nd President 1957-58), Mr. James Rea (3rd President 1958-59), Mr. Ira Wilke (4th President 1959-60), Mr. Bill Luedecke (5th President 1960-61), Mr. Joe Boyer, and several others in Austin.  The group promoted the idea of a separate Austin Chapter among all the engineers, contractors, and suppliers within the Austin Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning industry; and encouraged them to share their common goals and concerns. 

At an Austin meeting of the ASHVE Southwest Texas Chapter in October of 1955, a proposal was brought forth to form the Austin Chapter.  In attendance at this meeting were Mr. P.B. Gordon, National Vice President, Mr. D.M. Mills, Regional Director of this region, and all the members of the Board of Governors of the Southwest Texas Chapter.  After lengthy discussions, it was generally felt that a healthy chapter could operate in Austin, and that the Southwest Texas Chapter of ASHVE would also be strengthened by localizing operations with separate chapters.

An organizational meeting was held in January of 1956 and was well attended.  The enthusiasm was very high, and Mr. B. Segall, Jr. was elected the Chairman of the temporary organization with Mr. Atwell Lagow elected as Vice-Chairman.  The group began meeting monthly and continued to meet; providing technical programs until the Austin Chapter was chartered.  There is some uncertainty at this point as to when the chapter actually began.  The chapter charter indicates a date of April 8, 1956, but the first newsletter said it was made official on July 19, 1956.  Also, there was a slight name change.  The Austin Chapter was the 66th Chapter of the American Society of Heating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHAE).  The July meeting was the first for the new Society year, and where the installation of permanent officers and the presentation of the Gavel were made by then Society President John W. James, and Society Secretary A.V. Hutchison.  Several planning meetings were held by the Board of Governors and all the Officers worked hard to establish the Chapter with 43 official members with 3 awaiting membership by the Society’s action.

The original officers and BOG were:  B. Segall, Jr., President; Atwell Lagow, Vice-President; Perry Sisler, Treasurer; Mr. James Rea, Secretary; Mr. Ira Wilke, BOG; and Don Schuett, BOG.  James Rea, and HVAC Salesman at the time, also designed and wrote the first newsletter of the Austin Chapter and it was called “The Austin Register”.  Jim Rea’s dedication to the Austin HVAC industry prompted him to continue as the editor for the Chapter for many more years, as well as eventually become President.  The newsletter was printed front and back on about 11 x 17 sized paper.  The newsletter was then double folded to form a “business envelope” size mailer where an address and postage stamp was added to the “blank” section at the bottom of the back page.  The cost to mail the 1958 newsletters was two (2) cents. 

Meetings of the early Austin Chapter were held at the Pioneer Drive Inn meeting room at 829 Barton Springs Road, at the corner of Bouldin Avenue.  The meal was usually chicken fried steak complete with salad and desert, coffee or tea, and cost $1.75.   The reception and Social Hour usually began at 6:00 p.m., dinner at 7:00, Chapter Business and Announcements at 7:45, and the program at 8:00 p.m.  The meeting adjourned around 9:30 to 9:45 p.m. (not unlike our meetings today). 

The Chapter’s main function then, as now, was to encourage professional growth and enjoy fellowship with other industry professionals.  This goal was, and is now, achieved by hosting technical seminars and lectures, raising funds for technical research, and participating in regional conferences. 

The very first Austin Register – Volume 1, No. 1, dated July 1956 – provided some of this information regarding the formation of the Austin Chapter of ASHVE.  Additional information was gleamed from a few narratives provided by our former Historian, Mr. Eddie Bloomquist, P.E.  This information is all available in the Austin History Center Archives.  

Below: The Norwood Building incorporated two firsts when the 14-story structure was completed in 1929. It was the first air-conditioned office building in Austin, and it had the first self-parking ramped auto garage, the "Motoramp." Earlier parking garages moved the cars up and down using large elevators.

Austin History Center – Austin’s Community’s Collective Memory

Most of the Chapter’s information not posted on the website is available in the Austin History Center (AHC) Archives.  The AHC is a division of the Austin Public Library and is located at 9th and Guadalupe, P.O. Box 2287, Austin, Texas 78768-2287; and, just north of downtown Austin.  The phone number is:  512-974-7480.  The website link is:  http://library.austintexas.gov/ahc.  A copy of the AHC Chapter Inventory is included at the Chapter’s website files and folders. 

You can go into the AHC and ask to see the Index to Archives and Manuscripts Collections and look up the American Society or Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers and find our index number of:  AR-1997.016.  We currently have 2,319 items and 3 linear feet of material. 

As a research center, the AHC places primary emphasis on the informational value of materials collected.   The Collections include:

  1. Publications issued by the City of Austin, Travis County, or their departments.
  2. Material containing information about some aspect of Austin and Travis County (A/TC), including its residents, geography, economics, government, natural and built environment, businesses, institutions, and organizations.
  3. Some items relating to Texas history, as included for background sources, or because they contain significant information about A/TC, their residents, or because they illuminate Austin

Because aesthetic and historical value alone is of secondary importance in meeting informational needs, and due to consideration of space and conservation, artifacts are not sought for the collection.   Thus, plaques or trophies, etc. are not being preserved.  We need only provide letters, plans, specs, correspondence, etc. for their historical significance. 

Therefore if you have any files which may be historical in content related to our local chapter, and which should be stored and categorized with the rest of the Chapter’s History at the AHC, please contact the Austin ASHRAE Chapter’s Historian.  The Austin Chapter will be glad to coordinate a time to meet and pick up the materials.

Austin History Center – Austin Records

The AHC has ASHRAE-Austin Chapter records, 1955-1997 (plus other newsletters since then), that include correspondence, creative works, financial documentation, minutes, photographic material, printed material, and reports documenting the Chapter's activities since its inception in 1956. The Austin Chapter records are arranged in three subgroups according to the organizational structure of the Chapter: 1) general Chapter records, 2) records of various officers, and 3) records of standing committees. Inter-organizational records are filed with the office that created them.

Annual reports (1968-90, 15 items) of the General subgroup summarize the management objectives and accomplishments of the officers and each committee for the given years. Printed material (1959-85, n.d., 5 items), also a part of the General subgroup, includes the original and revised by-laws by which the Austin Chapter operates.

Treasurer financial documentation, divided into various reports and account records (1968-97, n.d., 735 items) forms the bulk of the Officers subgroup. President records, arranged chronologically by person in office, are comprised of correspondence and meeting agendas during the terms of almost all of the presidents of the Chapter. The records of Presidents Frank Gerling (1963-64, n.d., 34 items), Bob McAlister (1983-84, 41 items), and Pat Corbett (1996-97, 61 items) are especially rich in presenting the diverse operations and activities which concern the President of the Chapter. In addition, the Secretary subseries includes minutes (1963-77, 107 items) for both Board of Governors and regular Austin Chapter meetings, that provide a monthly account of the activities and interests of the Chapter over a wide range of years.

Prominent among the records of various standing committees is the almost complete run of the Chapter's newsletter, The Austin Register (1955-97, 254 items) (located in the Periodical Collection of the Austin History Center). Spanning a period of over thirty years, various rosters, lists, and directories (1968-90,n.d., 52 items) and membership form letters (1968-74, 131 items) document membership of the Chapter. The Historian series includes membership biographies of prominent members (1968-92, n.d., 25 items) and information on past presidents (1971-87, 6 items), illustrating the commitment the Austin Chapter has made to preserving its past. In addition, a significant collection of largely unidentified photographic material (n.d., 189 items) (located in the Photograph Collection) portray members at meetings, awards ceremonies, and professional conferences. Also noteworthy is the correspondence of Steve Jaeger as Education Committee Chair (1983-86, 29 items) that documents the interest of the Chapter in establishing Austin area student ASHRAE chapters.

Records produced by representatives of the regional and national ASHRAE offices are included in the Austin Chapter records only when those materials directly affect the operations of the local chapter. By-in-large, the Chapter Regional Committee records (1962-88, n.d., 51 items) center around correspondence and reports of the Austin Chapter delegates to the annual regional meetings. Materials of general interest to all regional or national chapters are not included in the Austin Chapter records.

Below: The May 4, 1922 tornado pictured at the right was the only major tornado in Austin's history. Although the Capitol was not damaged, 13 Austenite’s were killed, 44 injured, and property damages were estimated at over half a million dollars.

Our Chapter members have served Society very well over the years and Austin’s tradition of getting involved and getting things done will continue.

Respectfully Submitted,

Randy Schrecengost,