The AIA SW Michigan Chapter History
The history of AIA Southwest Michigan goes back to a letter on at the Octagon office of the AIA, dated December 11, 1923 covering minutes of the Institute Board of Directors of that day wherein in the official application and resolution of the Grand Rapids Chapter of the AIA were recorded. The petition for a formal charter of Chapter membership in the Institute listed certain counties of the west portion of the state as the chapter area, although it’s members were all from Grand Rapids area.
It was not until 1930 and 1932 when Lewis Sarvis and William Stone were the first members outside Grand Rapids. During 1942 and 1943 it became a practice of the Chapter to rotate the meetings between principle cities, relieving some members from long travel to Grand Rapids for every meeting. As a result, by January of 1946 membership outside of Grand Rapids increased to about 50% of the 62 members. Also at this time, a recommendation was made to change the name to Western Michigan Chapter AIA, which was adopted. Again in 1956, the Chapter area was enlarged by the addition of counties, which had been a portion, assigned to the Detroit Chapter. This gave the Western Michigan Chapter a grand total of 57 counties of the state from which to draw membership. It was on March 8, 1956 when the Western Michigan Chapter was incorporated under the provisions of ACT 327 Public Acts of 1931.
In 1963, The Grand Valley Chapter of the AIA was chartered reducing the territory of the Western Michigan Chapter to what it is today. Currently, our membership draws from the following southwest Michigan counties: Allegan, Barry, Berrien, Branch, Calhoun, Cass, Hillsdale, Jackson, Kalamazoo, St. Joseph, and Van Buren
Finally in 1992, the institute initiated a new identity format and in order to better identify the area, which we serve, the Board elected to change the chapter name to AIA Southwest Michigan.