On Sunday, October 12, 2014, the Indianapolis Alumnae Panhellenic celebrated a century of service, scholarship, and sisterhood. What a fabulous time it was! Centennial Co-Chairs, Sally Belknap, Alpha Sigma Tau, and Ilene Garrett, Sigma Sigma Sigma, and their committee did an absolutely wonderful job of coordinating every aspect of the day’s events. An added bonus was meeting Ilene’s daughter, a new member of the Bucknell University chapter of Kappa Alpha Theta, who was home on fall break.
The venue was the historic Indiana Landmarks Center. It was built in 1891 for the congregation of the Central Avenue Methodist Church. For many years, it was home to Indiana’s largest Methodist congregation. I heard one attendee say that her parents had been married there. Another asked for a picture in the front of the building as she had been baptized there.
By the 2000s, the building had become a community center and it was in deplorable condition. It closed in 2008 after a section of the domed sanctuary fell on the pews. Luckily, the Indiana Landmarks Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to historically significant and architecturally unique properties, came to its rescue. Bill, Gayle, and Carl Cook of Bloomington, Indiana, directed the restoration and funded $16 million of the $20 million cost. (The Cooks also spearheaded and funded the renovation of the West Baden Springs Hotel, see http://wp.me/p20I1i-12a. Thank you Cook family for your dedication and generosity!).
Each member organization of the Indianapolis Alumnae Panhellenic had its own display. The high tea began with a procession of flags, one for each member of the National Panhellenic Conference.
Scholarships were awarded to sorority women from the Indianapolis area attending Indiana colleges. From its beginnings in 1914, supporting local sorority women was an important part of the Indianapolis Alumnae Panhellenic’s efforts. At that time, Butler College (now University) was located in Irvington. Over time, the organization added altruistic projects of its own, but the scholarship component has remained.
A toast of sparking cider was raised to the memories of those women who gathered in 1914 with the express intention of assisting the women who wore the badges of the National Panhellenic Conference organizations. Hope Davis (Mecklin) Gordon, Kappa Alpha Theta, was the first president. The president for the 1919-20 year was Icy Frost Bridge, Alpha Chi Omega, a 1917 graduate of DePauw University (in 1973, her husband, Don U. Bridge created the Icy Frost Bridge Scholarship at DePauw in her memory. Sorry folks but I could not help but mention her name!).
The women who began the organization in 1914 could not yet vote for the President of the United States, the men who represented them in Congress, or their local officials. Those women attended college in a time when most women did not do so. And as with all efforts celebrating the centennial of anything, the ones who celebrate the milestone are not the ones who were in on the ground floor, building the foundation that would last 100 years and laying the cornerstone for future excellence without a real blueprint to guide them. I am grateful for the opportunity to have been a part of the celebration. Congratulations Indianapolis Alumnae Panhellenic and best wishes for an even greater 100 years to come!
P.S. A great big thank you to all my Pi Phi friends for making my trip to Indiana one I will never forget!
© Fran Becque, www.fraternityhistory.com, 2014. All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed this post, please sign up for updates. Also follow me on twitter @GLOHistory and Pinterest www.pinterest.com/glohistory/