The following is a historic account of the early years of the Delta Delta Chapter at Penn State College.
H. H. Heinrich, ’05
I. C. Minick, ’05
R. J. Peschko, ’05
W. C. Cope, ’06
Purely for good fellowship and to foster college friendships already formed, rather than with the object of petitioning a national fraternity.
H. H. Heinrich was the first to conceive the idea of establishing the University Club, as early as the spring of 1903. He took up the matter with I. C. Minick, but nothing whatever was done until the following spring, about April 1, 1904. At that time Heinrich again broached the subject to Minick and to Peschko and Cope. These four men took the preliminary steps, formed a definite plan of action, and then invited the folowing to join before any constitution, club room, or finances had been arranged:
P. T. Kamerer, ’06
O. C. Noss, ’07
H. F. Braddock, ’06
E. L. Rafter, ’06
R. C. Kelly, ’06
K. L. Gibson, ’06
Inability to secure a house caused the plan to be abandoned by all but Heinrich and Minick until the fall of ’04. After a house to house canvass a room was found over Krumirine’s store. All of the men came back into the fold, a constitution was carefully drawn up and the two club rooms furnished. L. F. Beckert and R. L. Bovard, both 1907 men, and the following freshmen were invited to join: R. K. Tate, J. K. Van Horn, R. J. Garrett, J. E. Mount, Bert Rhodes, H. N. Heckel, and S. P. Armsby.
I. C. Minick was the first president of the University Club and served in this capacity until he graduated in 1905.
A ritual for initiation was prepared. Preceding an initiating there was always some hazing and stunts; these, in many cases, were held in Andy Lytle’s woods at night. Later, the serious ritual was given at the club house. No national fraternity at college then had a group of men more intent on making their organization the very best there.
Soon the value of a national charter was realized and it was decided to petition a national fraternity. First the local increased its members from 21 to 25. As several of the men knew J. W. Bartlett, ’06, an Alpha Tau Omega from Colby College, he was approached. A formal petition to Alpha Tau Omega was prepared and submitted by Bartlett at the Alpha Tau Omega convention in New York in December 1904. It received a negative vote, as did the petition submitted to the convention at Birmingham in 1906. Petitioning continued until the fall of 1907, when the local voted unanimously that it did not wish to become Alpha Tau Omega.
Soon after furnishing the two club rooms in the fall of ’04, it became evident that a house was needed. Finally, arrangements were made on April 1, 1905 to rent the Herman House on Allen Street. This was effected chiefly through the efforts of R. L. Bovard, ’07, who then roomed at the Herman House. This became hte first Chapter House. Twelve men moved into the house and $500 worth of new furniture was purchased. The local maintained its own dining room and club room and really started its life as a fraterntiy. In June, 1905, the first commencement houseparty was held. Thus, within a year, a real, well-housed club was formed.
The University Club was soon recognized as a growing and prosperous organization. A reputation for hospitality was established that has lasted for many decades. The new men secured were enterprising and ambitious, and it was their ideal to make and maintain an organizatin of strength and character.
When Sigma Chi vacated their house on Allen Street in September, 1906, it was secured by the University Club. This was a large and better house. R. L. Bovard and K. L. Gibson were the committee who selected the $1,800 worth of furniture and arranged details of teh loan making possible the purchase of new equipment. Several of the boys’ mothers, especially Mrs. G. M. Bole and Mrs. Carpenter from Pittsburgh, presented linen, made curtains, cushions, etc.
As the organization strengthened, some national fraternities decided to destroy it by bidding the members. Everyone in the club received from one to five bids.
The desire to be a national fraternity man proved too strong for six of the members, who broke their vows to the University Club and joined other fraternities. This crisis brought the faithful members closer together and the club was better for having lost those men who were a disturbing element.
In the fall of 1907, thoughts turned toward Sigma Nu. At that time the club secured as a member e. a. Walker, brother of a Sigma Nu from Lehigh, while Brother Heltman, Gamma Psi, who was a student at Penn State, lived at the club house.
The preliminary petition to Sigma Nu was presented to the First Division convention at the Pi Chapter House, South bethlehem, PA, in the spring of 1908. When it was found that the club was a worthy organization, Brother A. H. Wilson, then inspector of the division, appointed Brother H. B. Mann of Gamma Theta to inspect the club. (At that time Division One contained 9 chapters.)
The formal petition to the High Council and Chapters of Sigma Nu Fraternity was presented on October 20, 1908. Strong endorsement of the petition came from such prominent men as Past Regent A. H. Wilson; H. E. Sibson, Cornell, formerly inspector Division One; Brother Mann, Cornell; Brother Heltman, Gamma Psi; and the New York Alumni Chapter.
The petition was favorably acted upon by vote of all the chapters during October, November, and December, 1908, and the charter was granted December 22, 1908–a welcome Christmas gift.
The following members were the petitioners whose names appear upon the charter:
Harry A. Bole, ’09
Sidney P. Armsby, ’09
Edward A. Walker, ’09
Frederick F. Beckert, ’09
Paul M. Etters, ’09
Wilberforce Eckels, ’09
Charles A. Lambert, ’10
Chauncey R. McAnlis, ’10
William W. Davies, ’10
George O. Weddell, ’10
Robert B. MacDermott, ’11
Walter H. Hillary, ’11
E. Horace Siegler, ’11
Albert P. Goedecks, ’11
Harry H. Armsby, ’11
Robert L. Devereaux, ’11
Rolland G. Bailey, ’12
William V. Colins, ’12
Roy C. Clarke, ’12
Howard E. Gage, ’12
These men were all initiated with the installation of the chapter on April 8, 1909. At commencement, 1909, the following alumni of the University Club were initiated into Sigma Nu: E. L. Rafter, W. C. Cope, H. F. Braddock, L. F. Beckert, R. L. Bovard, and P. T. Kamerer.
The petitioners from Penn State arrived in Philadelphia on the evening of April 7, 1909, many going to the Beta Rho Chapter House, where the initiation was to be held the following evening. Beta Rho was wide open to all Penn State men adn all visiting “Sigs.”
April 8 was a clear, bright day. In the afternoon a large tea was held at Beta Rho house in honor of Mrs. Wade H. Ellis, wife of the Regent. There were 250 guests, many prominent in Philadelphia society.
The house was decorated artistically with palsm and the chandeliers were covered with flowers and greens. Music was furnished by an orchestra. The Sigma Nu tea was one of the finest ever given by a fraternity at the University of Pennsylvania and was a great success.
The secret work of initiation commenced at 7:30 pm in the spacious parlor of the Beta Rho Chapter House. The petitioners were initiated in blocks of five by teams from Lehigh, Lafayette, Cornell, and Pennsylvania. A large assembly of “Sigs” were present and teh ceremony was very impressive. The installation functions were in charge of Frank H. Hobson, Beta Rho, who had been elected inspector when Wilson was elected to the vice regency.
After the installation a banquet was held at Kuglers cafe. The banquet hall was decorated in black, white and gold and the tables were arranged in the shape of ΣΝ. Covers were laid for 86.
Prayer: Brother Roswell Philips
Toastmaster: J. Howard Reber, Pi, 1890, a prominent Philadelphia lawyer
Introductory remarks: Regent Wade H. Ellis, Lambda
Response: Wilberforce Eckels, for Delta Delta
The new chapter soon gathered to itself honors in all lines of college activities, its policy being to send underclassmen into every branch of college life.
Chapter House Movement:
- 1904 — Two club rooms in rumrine Building on East College Avenue
- 1905 — Herman House, 225 South Allen Street
- 1906 — Old Sigma chi House, Allen Street
- 1907 — A larger house farther out on Allen Street, especially built for the University Club. This was their house at the time of installation as the Delta Delta Chapter of Sigma Nu.
- 1911 — The Chapter arranged to have Mr. Lytle build the “White Elephant” on West College Avenue, contracting for a ten year lease at $1,000 per year rent. The lease was extended at $1,200 per year until the fall of 1925.
- 1925 — Ground was broken on teh campus for the Delta Delta Lodge in March and teh foundation begun in April. The house was completed in the early fall of 1925, and on November 7, 1925, the Delta Delta Lodge was dedicated.
Much effort was expended in striving for this chapter house of their own.
As the Lytle House was extra large and well designed it enabled the chapter to room 38 or 39 men in the house, so that by good management the chapter made a surplus of about $1,600 per year for the five years preceding the occupation of the new campus home. During these years the chapter ranked second to none in college, which was mainly due to the exceptional personnel and the leadership. The striving for a new chapter house accounted much for keeping the chapter on its toes.
Shortly after graduation in 1907, R. L. Bovard was selected as Delta Delta alumni Secretary and Treasurer. After several return visits to the chapter, “Bo” induced the active men to start the Chapter House Fund by turning into same that part of the intiation fee which was not due the General Fraternity, and also turning over to the Fund any surplus available at the end of each shcool year.
The house building fund grew steadily but slowly until, in the fall of 1914, R. L. Bovard suggested adopting the House Building Fund Note Plan, whereby each active member signed up $100 notes payable $10 per year. The payment was to become effective wtih graduation. “Bo” suggested to the alumni that they should sign similar notes.
When the campaign was launched a total of 113 alumni signed notes, 50 of them paying immediately the entire $100. The active chapter voted to pay off their notes at the rate of #3.00 per month while in college, instead of waiting until graduation.
In September, 1920, work on the design of the new chapter house was begun. In the summer of 1924 it was decided to have Prof. A. L. Kocher, Dean of the School of Architecture of the college, prepare the final plans. These plans, at the request of the college, called for a Georgian Colonial design.
The success of the chapter house movement was owing chiefly to the tireless unselfish work of Brother R. L. Bovard, ’07. He was custodian of the fund ever since its origin and through his efforts it grew steadily. All the work in connection with the dealings with the college, the architects, contractors, the General Fraternity, and the chapter’s lawyer were handled by “Bo,” assisted mainly by Brother W. W. Smith. Others on the building committee were “Baldy” Braddock, Evans Crow, Pat Sullivan, Roy Clarke and Russ Mason.
In 1918 the college and the United States Army authorities advised all fraternities at Penn State that only chapters who had 27 members would be permitted to operate as a fraternity unit. Bovard started a campaign which resulted in Delta Delta returning 29 active members and pledges so that Sigma Nu was the only fraternity at Penn State which qualified and was permitted to operate as a house unit. all other fraternities had assigned to them non-fraternity men so that they did not keep up the fraternity spirit and the usual working organization. It was due to this move of Bovard’s that Delta Delta came out of the war as the strongest fraternity in college.
Delta Delta was the first fraternity at Penn State to start the plan of holding no initiations until the grades of the first semester were in. Other fraternities said they could not financially afford to wait that long, but initiated within six or eight weeks. Delta Delta not only waited, but it is necessary for a man to be above in at least 70 percent of his work in order to be initiated at that time. Instead of proving a hardship, this requirement has strengthened the chapter.