Harry A. Pryde of the Home Builders Association of Greater Seattle takes over as president of the National Association of Home Builders in January 1983.

  • By John Caldbick
  • Posted 9/27/2009
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 9172

In January 1983, Harry A. Pryde (1930-2009), former president of the Home Builders Association of Greater Seattle, assumes leadership of the  National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). It is a difficult time for the American economy. Although the year starts with a housing boom, by May 1983 the average cost of a home mortgage has risen to 13.3 percent, and the market for new homes is starting to feel the impact. In an interview with Time magazine, Pryde warns that "The housing-led recovery is in imminent danger of collapsing." During his time as National Association of Home Builders head, Pryde will push for action to curb interest rates and for regulatory reform to help the struggling building industry. His motto while in office is "Shelter for the People; Jobs for the Economy." In October 1983 he will have an opportunity to discuss the industry's concerns in a face-to-face meeting with President Ronald Reagan (1911-2004). After stepping down as NAHB president, Pryde will remain active in the building industry for another 20 years, and he and his wife, Ann, will continue their participation and philanthropy in community and educational affairs.

Modest Beginnings

Before taking over as head of the National Association of Home Builders, Harry Pryde had spent nearly a quarter-century forging a successful career in Seattle's building industry. He began life on a farm in Sunnyside, Washington, in the early years of the Great Depression, went on to complete a degree in economics and business at what was then called Washington State College, then spent two years in the Air Force. Upon discharge, he enrolled in the Graduate School of Public Affairs (now the Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs) at the University of Washington, earned a master's degree in public administration, and met and married a classmate, Ann Catoni. After graduation, Pryde worked for the Association of Washington Cities and the Institute for Governmental Research at UW before going into business for himself.

Pryde started his career as a homebuilder in a modest way, putting up a few houses in Seattle's Northgate area. In 1960 he founded the Pryde Corporation, and before long he was developing and building homes, apartment complexes, office buildings, convalescent centers, and condominiums all around the Seattle region. Pryde had a good eye for housing trends, and he built one of the city's first condominiums, on the west side of Capitol Hill overlooking Lake Union, in 1970.

An Advocate for the Industry

Throughout his long career, Harry Pryde was very active in housing-industry organizations and deeply involved in housing issues, both on the national and local levels. In 1965 he served as the last president of the Home Builders Association of Greater Seattle (HBA). At the end of his term, this organization became once again known as the Seattle Master Builders Association, the name it had used until a 1956 merger with the Seattle Builders and Contractors Association. The organization today is known as the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties.

In 1980, Pryde was elected vice-president and secretary of the National Association of Home Builders, putting him in line to assume the presidency in 1983. No one from the Northwest had ever before achieved such high office in the NAHB, and Pryde secured continued regional influence by appointing several fellow members of the Seattle Master Builders Association to committee positions in the national organization. During his tenure, the organization established task forces to deal with deregulation and monetary policy, and Pryde advocated at the highest level of government on issues of concern to builders.

Service, Philanthropy, and Recognition

Harry Pryde ran the Pryde Corporation for 40 years, and during that time he built more than 3,000 homes, apartment complexes, office buildings, and condominiums in the Seattle area. Affordable housing was a cause he championed his entire career, and he found time to serve on the board of the Seattle Housing Authority and on the Washington State Affordable Housing Commission, the Washington State Housing Finance Commission, and the Washington State Housing Task Force. He was also a director of DASH (Downtown Action to Save Housing for low-income families) and of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Seattle. In 1988 he became one of the founders of Bellevue's Enterprise Bank, and he sat on the board of directors of both the Seattle and Bellevue Chamber of Commerce.

Pryde's contributions to his industry and his community were widely recognized. He was elected to the University of Washington Construction Industry Hall of Fame, the National Housing Hall of Fame, the Building Industry Association of Washington Hall of Fame, and the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties Hall of Fame. In 2002, Harry and Ann L. Pryde endowed a fellowship to provide internships in Washington, D.C., for graduate students from the Evans School of Public Affairs. In that same year, the Prydes were named Founding Advocates of the National Housing Endowment in recognition of a substantial donation in support of the National Association of Home Builder's philanthropic arm. Yet another honor came his way in 2006, when Pryde received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Graduate School of Public Affairs at the University of Washington.

After a lifetime of achievement and civic involvement, Harry A. Pryde died on March 30, 2009.  He is survived by his wife, Ann, three children, and six grandchildren.


"NAHB Mourns the Passing of 1983 President Harry Pryde," National Association of Home Builders website accessed September 26, 2009 (http://www.nbnnews.com/NBN/issues/2009-04-06/Association+News/index.html); "Harry and Ann Pryde Named Founding Advocates," National Association of Home Builders website accessed September 26, 2009 (http://www.nbnnews.com/NBN/issues/2006-09-11/Endowment/index.html); "HSH's National Monthly Mortgage Statistics: 1983," HSH Associates Financial Publishers website accessed September 26, 2009 (http://www.hsh.com/natmo83.html); "Pryde, Harry," New York Times website accessed September 26, 2009 (http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9F0DE2D71E3AF933A25756C0A96F9C8B63); Bruce Van Voorst, David Beckwith, and John Greenwald, "Paul Volcker Superstar," Time, July 25, 1983, Time Magazine website accessed September 26, 2009 (http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,954012-3,00.html); David J. Vergobbi, Seattle Master Builders (Seattle: Seattle Master Builders, 1988?) 106-108, 152; "Nationwide Housing Boom Keeps Going," Ellensburg Daily Record, March 17, 1983 p. 6; "Social Security Death Index," Washington State Secretary of State website, digital archives, accessed September 25, 2009

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