History of the San Francisco (formerly Golden Gate) Section
Compiled by William A. Cyr and James Earl Jewell

In 1906 when the Illuminating Engineering Society was being organized, the Bay Area was recovering from an earthquake and fire. This prevented our local pioneers in illumination from immediate involvement. However, on 3 May 1907, amid San Francisco's ruins, a meeting was held at the temporary office of the Pacific Gas and Electric Company to consider forming a local Chapter as was being done in the East and Midwest. V.R. Landsingh of Holophane, one of the founders of the Society and its first Treasurer, had come West with a group of lighting people. They created a temporary board with W.J. Miller as Chairman and W.H. Crim, Jr. as Secretary. The members were Professor Cory of the University of California, Romaine Meyers, Mr. Dollinger and Mr. Roach.

The reconstruction of the Bay Area so occupied the lighting and engineering community that nothing more was reported form the Chapter effort until the lighting of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco. A paper on the PPE was read by W. D'A. Ryan at the 1916 Decennial Midwinter convention of the Society in New York.

Romaine Meyers, an Oakland Engineer, became a "National Member" in 1913 and continued to advocate a local organization. In 1917 he was designated the "Western Representative of the Illuminating Engineering Society." The State Department of Industrial Safety appointed Meyers to develop adequate standards for street lights, automobile headlights, and later for the wartime lighting of factories.

After the First World War ended, business and industry returned their attention to lighting and another attempt was made at a local organization. On 11 June, 1920 such a group was chartered and designated by the Society's Council as the "First Local Chapter" and in 1921 their Annual Report showed four meetings with an average attendance of 54 persons.

The first Chairman was Leonard E. Voyer, an Illuminating Engineer with the Edison Lamp Works. H.H. Millar was Secretary and J.A. Vandergraft was Treasurer with Miles Steel, W.H. Hanscom, Romaine Meyers, R.L. Prussia and R.H. Hudson as the Board of Managers . The death of Voyer in 1923 (along with the resignation of the Secretary Millar) brought things to a halt. In June of 1924 a meeting of the 19 members was organized by Clark Baker of the National Mazda Division of GE in Oakland to revive the Chapter and elect officers.James G. Cravath, a Chicago engineer and Charter Member of the Society who had come West to manage the Pioneer Electric Company in Richmond, was chosen as Chairman. Samuel P. Russell of H.B. Squires in San Francisco was Vice Chairman and C.A. Russell of PG&E was Secretary. Other Managers were Clark Baker; H.E. Sandoval, PG&E; Robert L. Prussia, Westinghouse Lamp Company; Dr. Percival Dollman, San Francisco occultist and Romaine Meyers.

In succeeding years the Chapter held weekly luncheons with average annual attendance ranging from 16 to 30 persons. Membership reached a high of 54 in 1926 but then hovered in the 40's for several years. In 1926 there is the first report of a local lighting class, one which lasted for five days and was offered jointly with the Pacific Coast Electrical Association with Clark Baker as Chairman and R.L. Prussia, Tracy Simpson and Carl O. Martin as instructors. By 1936 membership reached 69 and the Council of the Society elevated the local group to the status of Section. The fluorescent lamp was introduced at the World's Fair on Treasure Island where members of the Section played a major role in the spectacular lighting. That event brought the Annual Convention to San Francisco in August 1939 with O.R. Doerr of PG&E as the Chairman.

The Section remained active during the Second World War and collaborated with Regional Vice President Frank Hansen in providing technical advice and inspections for coastal lighting control programs. Active in that for the 12th Naval District were John Walsh and Crawford Hill of PG&E; Dan Finch of U.C.; Leland Brown of Stanford; Axel Olson of the C&C of San Francisco; and Fred Wellhouse of Westinghouse.

In 1940 Regions and Regional Vice Presidents had been established for the Society and the second of those for the South Pacific Coast Region was Fred J. Wellhouse, A Westinghouse street lighting engineer and past Chapter Chairman. In 1944 the Section title was changed to Northern California Section to reflect members in "Sacramento, Auburn, Stockton, Fresno, and Palo Alto."

The post-war years marked a great increase in Society membership and activity. The result in "Northern California" was the creation of the Mother Lode Section in 1947-48 and the San Jose Section in 1953 and the name of the Section was changed again: Golden Gate. In 1959 the Yosemite Section came into being, the Diablo in 1960, the Delta-Joaquin in 1962 and, finally, the Redwood Empire Section in 1969. But a diminished interest in lighting and the "lighting society" during the "energy crisis" of the late '70's and early '80's caused a decline in Sections and by the 1976-77 both the San Jose Section and the Delta-Joaquin had closed. Eventually San Jose, Diablo, and Redwood Empire Sections all returned to the Golden Gate Section and the Mother Lode Section remain. Today this Section has the largest membership in the Society.

The Society's Technical conference was held in San Francisco again in 1959 and a third time in 1975. During the 1959 Conference, the Golden Gate Section presented the first U.S. "Son et Lumiere" as the traditional lighting event under the guidance of Stanley Blois, James Jewell, and Arch Monson. In 1986 and 1987 the Section produced its own Pan Pacific Lighting Exposition and in 1993 was host to Light Fair International.

The Section has produced ten Regional Vice Presidents, several Society Directors, and two Society Presidents: Arthur Tylor and James Jewell. Section members have served on and led a number of important Society committees and many have been made Fellows of the Society or been honored with the Distinguished Service award. In 1992 former Section and Society President Jewell received the Louis B. Marks Award for Outstanding Service to the Society.

The Golden Gate Section has established its own awards program. One, which was originated in the Diablo Section, honors founding member Romaine Meyers and another honors San Francisco's Sol Cohn. Beginning in 1990 the Section started to honor those who founded the various lighting design firms by giving the Pioneer Award.

In 1986 the Robert Thunen Memorial Scholarships were instituted to honor the late Bob Thunen who served as Section President and was instrumental in many Northern California education programs. These grants for undergraduate or graduate study in the lighting field have been made in Northern California, Washington, and Oregon, all part of Mr. Thunen's territory as a regional engineer for Sylvania.

A generous bequest from the Estate of Alan Lucas, a distinguished interior designer with a great interest in lighting design, allowed the establishment of the Alan Lucas Memorial Fund in 1994. Administered for the Section by the San Francisco Foundation, this Fund carries out the late Mr. Lucas's intention "to fund scholarships and other educational programs" in the field of lighting design and lighting applications.