By Phillip H. Gerou, FAIA

From it’s inception in 1857 until 1892, the American Institute of Architects had no chapters or components located within the Western Mountain Region. In 1892 the Colorado Chapter of the AIA was the fist component to be established within the current boundaries of the Western Mountain Region (Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming).

By 1900 there were two fellows from the Colorado Chapter. They were Robert S. Roeschlaub of Denver (elevated to fellowship in 1900 – one of only three that year) and Francis W. Cooper of Pueblo, Colorado, who was automatically made a “fellow” when the Western Association of Architects merged with the AIA in 1889. The only other fellow in the region at the time was J. S. Mathews of Cheyenne who was elevated to fellowship in the WAA in 1886 and, consequently, by the AIA in 1889. For the next forty years, no other WMR member was elevated to fellowship. In 1940, Robert K. Fuller of Denver and Walter Ellsworth Ware of Salt Lake City were elected to the College of Fellows. In the following 15 years, only Burnham Hoyt (1949) of Denver was elevated to Fellowship from the region.

By 1910, the Colorado Chapter had grown to a total of a total of 48 members. In 1913, the states of Wyoming and New Mexico were included as components of the Colorado Chapter and, in 1916, Utah was added. Also in 1916, Nevada was assigned to the existing San Francisco Chapter, a chapter since 1881. At the same time (1916), Arizona was part of the Southern California Chapter. Five years later (1921), Utah established an independent chapter, which included the state of Utah and a number of counties in southern Idaho; the total membership was 15.

Regional Districts appear at least as early as 1922 when, on June 4, at the national Executive Committee meeting, the regions were numbered with Region 8 including Washington, Montana, Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah and Alaska. At that time, Colorado was included in Region 6 and New Mexico in Region 9. Five years later, at the national board meeting (30 November 1927), Region 8 was re-designated the Western Mountain District and included all the states from the former Region 8. Colorado was still part of Region 6 and New Mexico remained in Region 9. In 1929, the San Francisco Chapter was renamed the Northern California Chapter but still incorporated all of Nevada.

In 1937, Arizona separated from the Southern California Chapter to establish an independent state organization. Wyoming and New Mexico both separated from the Colorado Chapter in 1947 to form independent state organizations. The Districts/Regions were renamed and reapportioned in July of 1959 forming the current six-state Western Mountain Region.

The WMR has had two national presidents, Raymond J. Ashton, FAIA, of Salt Lake City in 1943 and John D. Anderson, FAIA of Denver in 2001.

Researched and documented by: Phillip H. Gerou, FAIA / Evergreen, Colorado / 1998