Where Frat Houses Go To Die

29 11 2008

Okay, maybe not so much. Reasonably so, Cornell has seen many fraternities in its day, and while many still remain on campus, they often move during their tenure at the university. Other organizations have come and gone with the times. Well, the fraternity and its symbols may be gone to all but their alumni and the old yearbooks, but the houses…what happens to them?

It really depends on luck and the general mood of the times. The most common fate for Cornell fraternity houses is demolition, whether it be for a parking lot, an apartment building, or for a physical expansion of the campus. The Rabco Apartments (the rather worn-down brick buildings on the 300 block of Thurston) sit on the site of what was Phi Kappa Psi’s house. DTD’s old house is now a parking lot, as is Zeta Psi’s first house at Cornell (granted, it burnt down in a fire in the late 1940s). Kappa Alpha Society’s Victorian masterpiece was torn down for Hollister Hall in 1957.


This view used to be blocked by DTD’s old house. But now it’s a very nice parking lot.

Rather than continue on that depressing tangent, some houses are fortunate enough to find a new life. Some are for university functions. Pi Lambda Phi, having closed in the 1970s, is now the Undergraduate Admissions office. Triangle’s house (pre-1985) is the dorm 112 Edgemoor, and 14 South was home to Kappa Alpha Society (they moved here right before the demo and remained until they closed in 1990). TriDelt’s house prior to 1965 is now the Alumni House on North Campus.Image courtesy of Cornell Facilities website (www.fs.cornell.edu).

14 South was AOPi's house from about 1992 to 2006. In 2012, it became the home of Phi Sigma Sigma.

Some are converted into private residences. The Westbourne Apartments in Cornell Heights are the product of a conversion of Beta Sigma Rho’s fraternity house (they closed in 1972). 210 Thurston, now a private annex house, was the home to Sigma Alpha Mu for decades. On the 300 block of Wait Avenue, the light purple stucco house with the tile roof has been home to two sororities and one fraternity (Eleusis fraternity in the 1920s [1], Chi Omega prior to 1953, and Phi Sigma Sigma from 1954 to 1969).100_2440

Having your house turned into a co-op is another popular option. Examples include-Watermargin: a former house of Phi Kappa Psi).Prospects of Whitby: former house of Alpha Xi DeltaTriphammer Co-Op: Former house of Sigma Kappa and Chi Gamma sororities.660 Wait Avenue co-op: former house of Zeta PsiHowever, The best reuses are the most awkward ones. Like when another fraternity or sorority resides in your old house. Here’s ten examples of that:Theta Xi: Zeta Psi alumni bought the property after Theta Xi closed in 1971. Then Zeta Psi sold themselves to Cornell for a $1 in the 1990s to avoid paying property taxes. Now Theta Xi wants their house back, and their pulling Cornell’s strings. I love real estate drama, especially when I get it first hand from the Zeta Psi brothers.Phi Sigma Epsilon: After they merged with Phi Sigma Kappa in 1985, the Cornell house was closed. Alpha Chi Omega sorority moved in some time afterwards.Beta Theta Pi: Their house prior to “Castle on the Rock” is now Pi Kappa Alpha’s house. Granted, this was prior to 1906, and Pika moved in around 1917, so this is a very old example.Phi Kappa Sigma: “Greentrees”, their house up until 1990, became the house of Pi Kappa Phi within a year of the Skulls’ closing. Delta Phi Epsilon: This sorority founded their Cornell chapter in 1962, and closed for a few years in the early 90s before closing completely in 2003 [2]. They still own 115 the Knoll, which is Alpha Xi Delta’s current house. I’d like to point out the irony that AXiD closed in 1964, right after DPhiE arrived, and they reopened in 2004, right after DphiE closed. Rumor mill likes to circulate that DPhiE is waiting for the right moment to reactivate Cornell chapter, which is a source of angst for AXiD sisters living in the house.Alpha Epsilon Pi: Their house was occupied by Sigma Alpha Mu as a “second house” during the 70s’.Pi Beta Phi: Prior to their current houses’ construction in 1956, they lived where Alpha Chi Sigma professional chemistry fraternity resides today.Theta Chi, or Tau Delta Phi: AOPi’s closing on Ridgewood is nothing new for that house. Theta Chi lived there when they closed in 1999, after living there for around twenty years. Also, the chapter was home ot the fraternity Tau Delta Phi until that chapter closed in 1969.Chi Omega: This sorority, which reopened in 1987 and closed again in 2003, lived in Phillips House on Sisson Place. Current students will be more familiar with this place as the location of Sigma Alpha Mu’s house.Kappa Alpha Theta: Tridelt moved from the Alumni House to Theta’s original house in 1965. It wasn’t even a year after Theta disaffiliated after having issues with their national.Last but not least: this house, former home of Alpha Chi Rho (defunct), Pi Kappa Phi and Lambda Upsilon Lambda, is still up in the air for renovation:100_1370

Anyone have any news on any plans for the building and possible redevelopment?[1]http://www.edgemoor.org/heritage/history/eleusis.html[2]http://www.rso.cornell.edu/DPhiE/DRhistory.html



2 responses

15 01 2013

I’m an alumna sister of DPhiE. Rumor mill around IHQ is that Cornell is on the list for recolonization… They are having a huge push for recolonizing dormant chapters.

7 02 2014
News Tidbits 2/6/14: A Sorority Totally New To Cornell | Ithacating in Cornell Heights

[…] Courtesy of the Cornell Sun and Cornell Chronicle comes news of the latest addition to Cornell’s Greek Life – social sorority Phi Mu.  According to the news articles, sorority interest has increased in the previous few years, from 670 registrants in 2010 to 873 in the latest rush (Chronicle claims 871…don’t know which is correct). This moved the Cornell Pan-Hel system to add a 13th sorority. If one views Phi Sigma Sigma as a replacement for the departed Alpha Omicron Pi, then Phi Mu would mark the first time there have been 13 Pan-Hel sororities on campus since 2003, when Delta Phi Epsilon and Chi Omega closed, and were replaced by Alpha Xi Delta the following year. If you go a little further back, there were 14 as recently as 1996, before Alpha Gamma Delta closed (comparing the old photo in that link to my 2008 shot, their physical house went downhill fast). […]

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