October 10, Happy Founders’ Day x 4

October 10, 1872 – Alpha Phi, founded at Syracuse University. It is the oldest of the Syracuse triad of NPC organizations founded at Syracuse. 

In September of 1872, Martha Foote (Crowe), Clara Sittser (Williams), and Kate Hogoboom (Gilbert) pondered the thought of women having fraternal organizations comparable to those of the men.  They invited all the college women to discuss the possibility. Ten women – the original three plus Jane Higham, Clara Bradley (Burdette), Louise Shepherd (Hancock), Florence Chidester (Lukens), Ida Gilbert (Houghton), Elizabeth Grace (Hubbell), and Rena  Michaels (Atchinson) met and pledged allegiance to the sisterhood. Minutes from the first meeting noted that Michaels was chosen president, plans were made for weekly meetings at which literary exercises would be part of the  program, and a 25¢ tax was levied for the purchase of a secretary’s book.  The first debate was “Resolved – that women have their rights.”

At first, the chapter met in the homes of chapter members. Dr. Chidester, Florence’s father, allowed the use of his Irving Avenue home office on Monday evenings. The first chapter room was on Salina Street, over Sager and Grave’s carpet store. The chapter room remained there for six years until it was moved to a suite of rooms on the fourth floor of the Onondaga County Savings Bank Building.

In 1884, the Alpha Phi chapter gave up the meeting rooms it rented in the bank.  Plans were made to rent a house “where the out-of-town girls could live and where one room could be used for a chapter hall.  The experiment proved a success, and at the end of a year it was suggested that the girls build and own a chapter house.”

In May of 1886, a 56’ x 178’ lot at 17 University Place was purchased by the members of Alpha Phi for $1,400, or $25 a front foot. A few Alpha Phi fathers acted as a Board of Trustees. A $2,500 bank mortgage was arranged and another Alpha Phi dad loaned the chapter $2,700.  On June 22, 1886, the laying of the corner stone of the first chapter house owned by a women’s fraternity took place.  

The Alpha Phi chapter house on University Avenue in Syracuse. It was the first house built and owned by a women's fraternity. The house was sold in 1902 and the chapter moved to its current home on Walnut Place.

The Alpha Phi chapter house on University Avenue in Syracuse. It was the first house built and owned by a women’s fraternity. The house was sold in 1902 and the chapter moved to its current home on Walnut Place.

The chapter moved into its new home in November.  The chapter hall was dedicated in January, 1887, and on Washington’s birthday, the chapter opened the house to 300 invited guests. In 1902, the chapter moved to the Bacon residence on Walnut Park. That home on Walnut Place is the home in which Alpha Phi still resides.

October 10, 1904 – Alpha Gamma Rho, founded at Ohio State University. It remained a local organization until April 4, 1908, when it joined with another local, Delta Rho Sigma, founded at the University of Illinois in 1906. The two groups me at an International Livestock Competition in Chicago. Sixteen men signed the fraternity’s charter. Until 1958, chapters were located solely at land-grant institutions. One of its most famous members is Orville Redenbacher, an initiate of the Purdue University chapter. 

October 10, 1910 – Tau Epsilon Phi, founded at Columbia University. The men who founded the organization gathered in Central Park and discussed the idea. The first formal meeting took place in the library of the Columbia University’s Department of Pharmacy, on Friday afternoon, October 19, 1910. The founders of Tau Epsilon Phi are Robert L. Blume, Julius M. Breitenbach, Charles M. Driesen, Ephraim Freedman, Leo H. Fried, Harold Goldsmith, Samuel Greenbaum, Julius Klauber, Israel Schwartz, and Julius J. Slofkin.

October 10, 1924 – Alpha Delta Gamma, founded at Loyola University, Chicago. Its founders are Francis Patrick Canary, John Joseph Dwyer, William S. Hallisey and James Collins O’Brien, Jr. It is likely the only fraternity concieved while its members were riding the “L”, the elevated train in Chicago.

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