History

CenturyHousePicIn 2009, SAME conducted a fund raising campaign to raise money to renovate its HQ, Century House. The exterior renovation, costing nearly $200,000, was completed in September 2011. The renovation included restoration of the fourteen large windows, lead paint abatement, cleaning the façade, rebuilding the balcony over the front entrance, and restoring all the decorative components.

We will now begin the renovation of the large conference room and foyer on the first floor, which we hope to complete by the end of 2012. The conference room will be outfitted with newer presentation and Internet hardware to make it a first-rate multimedia conference room to coordinate SAME activities at all levels. As part of that renovation, SAME is planning to establish a “Gallery of Military Engineer Leaders.” This museum display area will feature historical references to engineer leaders, SAME artifacts, special books and other items that trace the history of Military Engineering. Appropriate archival displays will be installed to preserve these historical treasures.


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The original nine-member board appointed by Maj. Gen. William Black, USA, to establish the Society of American Military Engineers also arranged the donation of Professional Memoirs, a magazine that had been published by the Engineer Bureau since 1909. The memoirs, subsequently renamed The Military Engineer, became the cornerstone upon which SAME was founded; the magazine has been published continuously since its debut in 1920.

     

In the 100 years since the publication was established, The Military Engineer has celebrated the efforts of military engineers during some of the history’s most significant armed conflicts, including two World Wars, Korea, Vietnam and the Global War on Terror. It has detailed the greatest feats of modern engineering, such as the Panama Canal, the Hoover Dam and the Manhattan Project. The Military Engineer has followed the trends of military engineering from the early development of our nation’s transportation infrastructure through Cold War-era construction and the birth of computer-aided design to the current era of sustainable development, emergency preparedness and military base realignment.

     

In January 2008, in celebration of The Military Engineer’s 100th year in print, the magazine was redesigned for a cleaner, more modern look, and the title, which served since 1920, was reconfigured into the acronym TME. The online version, presented in HTML format since 2005, was retooled as an interactive PDF that showcases all the print version’s articles and advertisements in their original format. Live web and e-mail links now connect content and ads with the appropriate web resources, and the site—www.same.org/tme—is open to the general public.

For a more detailed account of the history of The Military Engineer, read former editor in chief Gordon T. Bratz’s article “TME Celebrates 100th Year in Print,” published in the magazine’s November-December 2008 issue.

Located at 607 Prince St. in Old Town Alexandria, Va., Century House, the SAME headquarters building, was constructed sometime around 1846. It was built as a Victorian town home and was occupied as a private dwelling for several years. Sometime afterwards, Dr. George Klipstein assumed ownership of Century House and practiced medicine in the house until he was 85 years old. Century House actually was a full-fledged medical treatment facility, acclaimed by some to be the only hospital in existence during the early stages of the Civil War.

During Dr. Klipstein’s ownership, the interior of Century House was converted from a town home to a hospital. Dr. Klipstein had his private office to the left of the foyer—now the office of the SAME Executive Director—and the large room to the right—then most likely a dining room, now the SAME conference room—was converted to an operating room. The second floor, which presently houses the Department of Membership and the Department of Conferences and Education, was the recovery room. Dr. Klipstein and his wife, Naomi, lived on the third floor, now home to the Department of Communications and Marketing and the Department of Finance. Historical records indicate there was a morgue on the first floor, and the deceased were carried to a twin carriage house at the rear of the building from which horse carriages delivered the remains to their resting places.

Dr. Klipstein himself passed on in 1929 and left the property to his wife. When she died in 1962, the property passed to various relatives and commercial endeavors. In 1972, the property was purchased by the Thomas and Sewell law firm, which totally renovated the buildings and restored the original décor insofar as possible. All facilities were upgraded accordingly.

The SAME headquarters gets its name from its previous owners, who coined “Century House” because the property was well more than 100 years old. At the time of the nation’s bicentennial in 1976, Century House was one of about a dozen town homes selected by the City of Alexandria for an open house walking tour. SAME purchased Century House in October 1980, relocating its headquarters from Washington, D.C.

The Century House Fund was launched initially as a short-term campaign through Oct. 31, 2006, to raise funds for the restoration of Century House’s main conference room and foyer. Since then, the fund's goal has been expanded to include ongoing improvements and renovations such as expansion of office space and the rehabilitation of the building’s exterior façade and windows.

A 1919 SAME recruitment postcardThe Society of American Military Engineers grew from our nation's experiences in World War I, when more than 11,000 civilian engineers were called to duty as the United States entered “The War to End All Wars.” Upon their return, many feared the collective knowledge and the cooperation between the public and private sectors that proved vital to combat success would be lost. Industry and military leaders vowed to capitalize on the technical lessons and camaraderie shared during their battlefield experiences.

SAME was formed from this vow. In 1919, Maj. Gen. William M. Black, USA, the Army's Chief of Engineers, appointed a nine-officer board to consider the formation of an "association of engineers" that would preserve and expand upon connections formed in war and promote the advancement of engineering and its related professions. Early in 1920, the first SAME Posts were established, providing former colleagues and new members opportunities to connect face-to-face, and establishing Post-to-community relationships across the country.

Click here to view "Reflections: An Historical look at SAME, 1978-1993."

In the decades since, SAME has developed a world-class program of conferences, workshops, symposiums, and professional development and networking opportunities in support of its mission: facilitating interaction between the public and private sectors to enhance engineering support to national security. SAME’s membership today comprises more than 20,000 leaders representing the uniformed military services as well as numerous government agencies, nonprofit associations, academic institutions and private-sector firms who will guide the future of the engineering profession and its contribution to the protection of our nation.

Past Presidents of SAME, 1920-Present [PDF]

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