The 2014 REALTORS® Conference & Expo takes place later this week in the great city of New Orleans. As REALTORS® across the country pack their bags and prepare to attend the four-day event, we took a look in the NAR Archives’ files to see what issues and events caught the attention of REALTORS® attending the annual conference one hundred years ago.
In July 1914, REALTORS® converged on bustling Pittsburgh, PA, for their seventh annual convention, “The Great Realty Meet of 1914.” Trains were the preferred mode of transportation back then, and many local real estate boards, such as Cincinnati and Minneapolis, chartered special trains to take their members to the conference. The delegation from the Philadelphia Board rode in two private Pullman cars and enjoyed a private dining car. The Atlanta Board also rode in its own car. Two special Pullmans were used by 34 members of the Irving B. Hiett Company in Toledo, whose office was closed during their absence.
Pittsburgh convention cartoon from the National Real Estate Journal, July 15, 1914.
At Union Station in Pittsburgh visitors were met by local REALTOR® volunteers who guided them to their hotels. The host Pittsburgh Board used more than 100 automobiles to transport delegates from their hotels to the Hotel Schenley, site of the Great Realty Meet.
Local Boy Scouts also helped guide visiting REALTORS® to the hotels and acted as messengers and escorts as well. According to the National Real Estate Journal, “Their services were a great help to the success of the convention and the activities of this youthful organization merits the highest praise.” In 1914, the Boy Scouts of America had existed for only four years.
The convention was called to order in the Hotel Schenley’s ballroom at 10:30 on the morning of July 8, 1914. President Charles L. Simpson wielded the gavel, and the Rev. William L. McEwan, D.D., pastor of Pittsburgh’s Third Presbyterian Church, delivered the invocation. After welcoming speeches it was down to business.
President Simpson’s report to the membership was welcome news. After showing a deficit the previous year, the young Association was now in the black, and membership was rapidly growing. Committee reports followed, with F.C. Shipman of Detroit reporting on national legislation affecting real estate and R.B. Wallace of Council Bluffs reporting on state legislation. Indianapolis REALTOR® Fred A. Gregory’s committee dealt with commission rates, Charles Kinne from Jacksonville’s report was on printing and forms, Charles F. Laughlin of Cleveland gave the always important report of the Committee on Taxation.
Guest speakers included Baltimore Mayor James H. Preston, whose city was hosting the centennial observance of the Star Spangled Banner. Hugh Chalmers, president of the Chalmers Motor Company in Detroit, spoke on “Advertising and Salesmanship.”
An entertainment highlight was “A Night in Bohemia,” held at the Fort Pitt Hotel. Four bands played for a packed crowd. Vaudeville entertainers were on hand, and a comedy play, “Selling the Old Homestead,” was popular with the REALTORS®.
Unscheduled entertainment occurred in the Schenley’s lobby where several members of the Cleveland Real Estate Board welcomed the ambitious and envious into “a very, very secret fraternity,” the Ancient and Honorable Order of the Yellow Dog. The Most High and Exalted Prime Potentate Raymond T. Cragin, president of the Cleveland Real Estate Board, lined the candidates up in a row. They were made to raise their right hands on high, wiggle the little finger, and repeat a binding oath of secrecy. Over one hundred REALTORS® from various parts of the country were thus introduced into the mysteries of the Yellow Dog.
One notable outcome of the 1914 annual conference was the first revision of the Code of Ethics. The Code had been formally approved at the convention the year before. The new second version included ten rules on a broker’s duties to clients, ten rules on duties to other brokers, and a new section of five rules covering duties to prospective buyers.
The Pittsburgh Athletic Club was the scene of a meeting of board secretaries, today’s REALTOR® association executives. Popular presentations included “How Not to Conduct a Multiple Listing System” by Louis M. Krepleever of Toledo and “Board Forms and How to Use Them” by John J. Elliott of Seattle. Milwaukee REALTOR® R. Bruce Douglas may have stolen the show in his speech “The Backbone of a Real Estate Board,” a tribute and challenge to real estate board secretaries.