2007 Hall of Fame Inductees Changed Face of Housing
In recognition of their outstanding lifetime achievements in the housing industry, Henry Cisneros, R. James "Jim" Nicholson, Bruce Smith and William Levitt were inducted into the National Housing Hall of Fame on June 9 during the spring meeting of the NAHB Board of Directors.
"The National Housing Hall of Fame recognizes individuals whose spirit, ingenuity and determination have changed the face of housing history for the better," said NAHB President Brian Catalde. "All of these fine people deserve this award and our thanks for strengthening our industry."
Henry Cisneros was the first Hispanic-American to head a major U.S. city government as the mayor of San Antonio, Texas, from 1981 to 1989. Under the Clinton Administration, Cisneros served as secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) from 1993 to 1997. Today, he is executive chairman of CityView, a national housing investor that provides financing for America's urban home builders.
R. James "Jim" Nicholson was nominated by President George W. Bush to serve as secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in December 2004, and was unanimously confirmed by the Senate. He now leads the largest agency in the U.S. government, with more than 235,000 employees. Nicholson, a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, served as a paratrooper and ranger-qualified Army officer for eight years. In 1978, he founded Nicholson Enterprises, Inc., a developer of planned residential communities. A life director of NAHB, Nicholson also served as the president of the Home Builders Association of Metropolitan Denver and was named its Builder of the Year in 1988.
Bruce C. Smith, a second-generation custom builder and developer, served as president of NAHB in 2001. In the aftermath of September 11, he tirelessly traveled the country in a successful effort to encourage the entire housing community to provide a generous response to those who were directly affected by the tragedy. Active in NAHB at all levels for many years, Smith has held a number of leadership positions within NAHB and his state and local associations. Today, Smith is president of Smith Quality Homes, a family-owned company with more than a 70-year history in Walnut Creek, Calif.
William J. Levitt, a real-estate developer widely credited as the father of modern American suburbia, was given the award posthumously. The award was accepted on his behalf by his grandson, David Levitt. William J. Levitt received countless awards and citations during his lifetime. In 1929, Levitt's father, a New York attorney, founded the home building firm Levitt and Sons, Inc., with his son William as president. Throughout his career, Levitt and Sons constructed more than 130,000 homes and ranked as one of the largest shelter producers and land developers. His successful planning and construction concepts had powerful influences worldwide. In 2000, Levitt was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most important people of the 20th century.
The National Housing Hall of Fame was established in 1976 to serve as a repository for historical information on its chosen honorees and their contributions to housing. It is located in the atrium of the National Housing Center in Washington, D.C.
Since the first induction ceremony in May of 1977, more than 200 individuals have been elected to the National Housing Hall of Fame. These individuals are selected for their spirit, ingenuity and determination in changing the face of housing for the better, helping to make America one of the best housed nations in the world.
For more information, e-mail Niki Clark at NAHB, or call her at 800-368-5242 x8061.
Photos by Herman Farrer