NAR’s “Red-Headed Giant,” Alexander Taylor

alextaylorThe real estate community lost a friend in 1942 when Alexander S. Taylor of Cleveland died at age 73.  “Uncle Al” was the third president of the National Association, from 1910 to 1911, and his contributions to the evolving real estate profession were even larger than the imposing man himself.

Years after his death NAR historian Pearl Janet Davies remembered him fondly.  “Taylor will always be remembered as the young red-headed giant whose evangelism for the constructive quality of real estate service breathed life into new real estate boards all over the country,” she wrote.  Taylor also “brought the national organization at last to workable membership strength.”

A Cleveland native, Taylor entered the real estate business of his father, V. C. Taylor, later becoming a partner.  He was responsible for numerous commercial and residential building enterprises in the city, and was one of the founders of the Cleveland Real Estate Board.  He would serve as its president in 1908.  That same year he attended a three-day real estate meeting at the YMCA auditorium in Chicago, and thus was present at the birth of NAR.

As president of the National Association Taylor made issues of taxation a focal point for himself and his executive committee.  “Unjust taxation is the most formidable foe of real estate over the whole country,” he warned.  “This is generally accepted among thinking men.”

Taylor also stressed action on state and federal legislation affecting real estate, and pushed for real estate license laws.

Bust as Davies noted, Taylor was most famous for his enthusiasm in traveling the nation as NAREB president, preaching the importance of organization to real estate men.  It wasn’t always easy.  “Alexander Taylor’s circuit-riding in his successful drive for a representative membership put him out of pocket $8,000” Davies wrote.  He wasn’t alone.  One of his contemporaries, Charles F. Harrison of Omaha, remarked just two years later in 1913 that “it costs probably $10,000 a year to be president of this Association.”

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