Alpha Gamma Delta was founded at Syracuse University on May 30, 1904 at the home of Dr. Wellesley Perry Coddington, a Syracuse University professor. Alpha Gamma Delta is the youngest of the Syracuse Triad, the three National Panhellenic Conference organizations founded at Syracuse University. The other two, Alpha Phi and Gamma Phi Beta, were founded in 1872 and 1874, respectively.
By 1901, all seven of the founding National Panhellenic Conference organizations had chapters at Syracuse. Coddington, who had a hand in the early years of Alpha Phi, realized that the campus needed another women’s fraternity. He approached several young female students and discussions ensued. Though excitement started to grow, the women managed to keep the possibility of another organization on campus very quiet. Edith MacConnell was recovering from a serious accident and was a patient at the Homeopathic Hospital. Not even the nurses attending to her had any idea what was taking place, despite the steady stream of visitors to her room.
The announcement in the Daily Orange, the school’s newspaper, noted:
A new Greek-letter fraternity has been organized among the women of the university. The name is Alpha Gamma Delta and the members thus far are: Marguerite Shepard, ’05; Jennie C. Titus, ’05; Georgia Otis, ’06; Ethel E. Brown, ’06; Flora M. Knight, ’06, Estelle Shepard, ’06; Emily H. Butterfield, ’07; Edith MacConnell, ’07; Grace R. Mosher, ’07; Mary L. Snider, ’07.
In 1887, Coddington’s home at 106 Walnut Place cost $5,500 to build. There he and his wife Louisa raised four children born between 1865 and 1876. Coddinton’s wife Louisa died in 1908. He died in 1913 while on a trip to Germany. In 1944, Coddington’s son, Rev. Herbert G. Coddington, sold the property to Syracuse University for $8,570. It was used as small group housing, including a stint as home to Alpha Omicron Pi. In 2002, the university gave the house a major overhaul, renovating it for the Division of International Programs Abroad (SU Abroad).
During Alpha Gamma Delta’s first year, the chapter met in a third floor room of a home at 1005 East Genesee Street. The chapter’s first house was located at 761 Irving Avenue. On April 30, 1907, it was the site of the first Alpha Gamma Delta convention. Delegates from the Beta Chapter at the University of Wisconsin and the Gamma Chapter at Wesleyan College in Connecticut were in attendance, along with several Alpha Chapter representatives.
One of the more interesting things that happened during 1905-06, the first year in the chapter house, were described in the January 1931 edition of the Alpha Gamma Delta Quarterly:
After the day’s duties, when all is wrapped in slumber, suddenly across the midnight stillness there comes a terrible crash seeming to shake the house from its foundations. What has happened? Perhaps the tower of John Crouse College has fallen. Or a clumsy burglar has stumbled against a substantial piece of furniture. A knock at the door and a voice calling for a candle, starts a search for matches. After a slight delay we marshal our little band for the descent to the first floor where unknown horrors may await, although all is now still as death. Emily [Butterfield, I presume, the future architect and squirrel enthusiast], bolder than the rest, leads; the others following in Indian file. At the last turn of the stairway, she stops suddenly and turning to a line of white faces above, says calmly, ‘Girls, the plaster has fallen in the parlor.’
Plaster falling was, it seemed, a common occurrence in the house:
Another time during breakfast, a dull thud was heard upstairs. Upon investigation, it was found that the plaster had this time fallen into the bed which Georgia Dickover had just left. A week later the new plaster fell before it was dry, some of it sticking to the floor as long as the chapter lived there.
For more about the chapter’s current home, at 709 Comstock Avenue, the one designed by founder Emily Butterfield, see http://wp.me/p20I1i-8B
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