July 24, 1943

Governing Board of the American Institute of Physics

Minutes of Meeting

The Governing Board of the American Institute of Physics Incorporated met in response to call of the Chairman, at ten-thirty a.m., Saturday, July 24, 1943, at the Office of the Institute, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y.

Present: Chairman Klopsteg, Messrs. Cope, Firestone, Gibbs, Gibson, Fletcher (at 12:10 p.m.), Pegram, Tate, Waterfall and Worthing.

Absent: Messrs. Dow, Dubridge, Hardy, Mark and Taylor.

Present by Invitation: Dr. Barton, Director and Mr. Burnham of the Institute Staff.

I. Report of the Secretary:

The Secretary reported as the result of a mail ballot sent out on June 22 authorizing the appointment of delegates to participate in preliminary negotiations for a proposed Radio Technical Association that fifteen ballots were cast in favor of the authorization.

II. Radio Technical Planning Association:

The Committee of Delegates authorized under I above reported favorably on the question of participation of the Institute in the proposed Association.

On motion it was voted, without opposition, to extend the previous action of the Board by authorizing the delegates in their discretion to commit the Institute to membership for one year in the Radio Technical Planning Association and to authorize the payment of a year’s membership fee not to exceed one thousand dollars.

III. House for the Institute:

The Chairman introduced the subject by referring to the growth of activities of the Institute during the war and the need of still greater activities in the post-war period, then called on the Director to present a proposal and a recommendation of the War Policy Committee.

Mr. Barton said that starting from a suggestion made by Mr. Harvey Fletcher at the Board meeting on March 12th last, inquiry was made through real estate brokers which led to finding an excellent building at 57 East 55th Street, New York City, on a lot 33 ft. by 100 ft., which could be purchased at a net cost to the Institute of little, if any, more than the value of the land alone.

The War Policy Committee at a recent meeting at Chicago discussed the desirability of ownership of a building by the Institute and the possibility of purchasing the one referred to above.

The War Policy Committee came to the conclusion that the purchase of the house at 57 East 55th Street was desirable and possible and therefore prepared for presentation to the Board the following recommendation:


The War Policy Committee respectfully recommends to the Governing Board that approval be given to the following proposed resolution:

WHEREAS, The War Policy Committee foresees the necessity of extensive professional development in the field of physics in the post-war period and has urged the acquisition of a physics building to promote such development as well as to provide rent-free office space for the Institute and for other appropriate activities of physicists, and

WHEREAS, a suitable house at 57 East 55th Street, New York, is available at a net cost to the Institute of $75,000 including alterations, and

WHEREAS, a considerable number of physicists have expressed the desire to raise a fund to purchase this house for the Institute, and

WHEREAS, under the option given by the present owner, there is insufficient time for the Governing Board to obtain formal approval of the Founder Societies for a fund-raising campaign, now therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED that the Governing Board concurs with the War Policy Committee as to the great desirability of acquiring the said building, authorizes the Chairman of the Board to appoint at once a Physics Building Fund Committee charged with the duty of raising funds for its purchase, authorizes the treasurer to accept and care for contributions in the name of the Institute and authorizes the Chairman of the Board, the Secretary and Treasurer, and the Director of the Institute to acquire the said building in the name of the Institute under the most favorable terms obtainable subject to the following conditions.

  1. That cash, war bonds or other securities paid or pledged by the date of the transaction amount at least to a total of $30,000.

  2. That not more than $30,000 of the Institute’s present balance of cash and investments be used (even temporarily) as an advance on account of anticipated or unpaid pledges or unsold bonds and securities as contributions, and

  3. That no indebtedness in the form of loans, mortgage or both in excess of $30,000 be incurred.

Discussion followed without formal motion to adopt the Resolution. It was brought out that the property at 57 East 55th Street is owned by the real estate operator Mr. Frederick Brown; that Mr. Brown holds it at $95,000.00; that Mr. Brown, who is well known for his aid to educational institutions, has offered to contribute $25,000.00 to the Institute towards the purchase of the building; that its location is in the best real estate section of the City; that the house itself, four stories, basement and sub-basement is of steel and concrete fireproof construction, was a very fine building when built about 1910 and it is now in very good condition; that it can be well adapted to the uses of the Institute; that according to real estate authorities who have been consulted the net cost of $70,000 to the Institute may be considered a good bargain; that the Institute will certainly have to have more room and will have to pay higher rent if it continues to rent; that a house such as is proposed can serve as a center for the Founder Societies of the Institute and for physicists; and that the Institute as a non-profit, scientific membership corporation would not be taxed on the real estate occupied by it.

Following other discussion on a motion of Mr. Tate that after deleting the words “even temporarily” from the second line of condition 2. of the resolution, the resolution be adopted by the Board, the vote was unanimous, ten to none, in favor of adopting the resolution.

Note: The Chairman has requested that his vote be recorded as in favor of the resolution, since a favorable vote of two-thirds of all the Directors (in this case 10 of 15) is necessary under the laws of New York State to authorize purchase of real estate by a membership corporation. This vote was verified later by a mail ballot of all 15 Directors. The ballots, which are appended to the Secretary’s copy of these minutes, were again unanimous in favor of the resolution.

IV. Committees on Building Fund:

On motion of Mr. Fletcher it was voted to authorize the Chairman to appoint appropriate committees to plan and carry through the work of arousing the interest of physicists in a home for the Institute as a center of organized physics and of securing the contributions necessary to make the purchase possible.

The Chairman appointed Mr. Homer L. Dodge Chairman of the Physics Building Fund Committee, with other members to be designated later.

On motion the Governing Board adjourned.