It was near the end of May 1985, and I was working at a construction company in Boyertown since graduation the previous May from, what was then, Spring Garden College where I graduated with a 5 year degree in architecture. I needed to work with an architectural firm to get my required training in order to take my architectural registration exam. An ad was in the newspaper for a position at an architectural firm in Reading, I went on the interview, and little did I know that I would be spending the next 30 years with Muhlenberg Greene Architects. I did successfully pass my exam, and am a registered architect in Pennsylvania.
At the time I was hired all the drawing was done by hand by either pencil or pen on Mylar. I was pretty fast at drawing by hand. In 1996 we were transitioning to drawing on the computer and I took a class in AutoCAD. There for a while I was still faster than the computer but that gradually changed. Now everything is almost exclusively drawing on the computer.
Over the years I worked on some pretty interesting projects, some of them historical renovations. The first major project I worked on was the former Berkshire Hotel. We surveyed the building to draw up plans since there weren’t any existing drawings. It was turned into rentable office space. I also got to photo document the former Pomeroy’s Department Store building for what was going to be a renovation project. Sadly, it was deemed too expensive and the complex was demolished to make way for the Meridian Bank building, which I worked on as well. Prior to its demolition, I was one of the last people in the Pomeroy’s building. The Abraham Lincoln Hotel is another project I got to work on, and yes, it is haunted. While in the building surveying a few times with another person we heard doors closing and the elevator running and stopping on various floors and we were the only people in the building.
For the past 28 years I have worked almost exclusively on Latter-Day Saints church projects, both new buildings and renovations to existing buildings, with Principal Dennis Rex, in several states. They have become our most steady client over the years.
I have had the privilege of working with all the partners at one time or another on various projects, but mostly with Dennis. Jim Dockey, who retired a few years ago, was a great influence on detailing and putting together the documents for the drawing set. He later said that I was ruined after working with Dennis and the others; not true Doc! I still practice what you preached all those years.
It wasn’t always all work though; we did have a few fun office trips. We went white water rafting 2 times down at the New River Gorge in West Virginia, and actually went down in a trolley rented from the Boyertown Historic Vehicles Museum. Those wood seats were not very comfortable. Then there were the office picnic’s in summer at Larry Greene’s house with the volleyball games and the winter sledding and ice skating on the pond.
It’s been an interesting 30 years both in the changes in the building industry and technology. I’ve met some very nice people – clients, contractors and consultants. It’s been an honor to be part of what will be our 100th Anniversary coming up soon. Now back to work!