Local History

Late in the fall semester of 1946, a group of 15 members of the class of 1950 concerned themselves with the rather inevitable fate of separation and absorption by other group on campus. A small committee was appointed to investigate possibilities of organizing a new fraternity with the goal of keeping this group and its ideals intact. It was touch and go for several months while some of the members plunged ahead with the business at hand, others remaining undecided. Finally, when a constitution and working organization were readied, there were 13 men standing by to become members of what was first termed a club. With the election of officers in March of 1947, Phi Delta Rho came into being.

On Sunday, February 29, 1948, the first formal initiation of new members of Phi Delta Rho was held, eight men were admitted to full membership. On the night of May 3, 1948, the matter of national affiliation was brought up for decision. The debate was long and comprehensive, and the final vote was taken at a subsequent meeting on May 10. It was unanimously decided to petition the Fraternity of Alpha Chi Rho for a charter for a new Chapter. At a meeting of the National Council of Alpha Chi Rho held on July 8, 1948, the petition of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Phi Delta Rho Fraternity was unanimously approved and a charter granted. The institution of the chapter took place on Saturday, October 23, 1948. Thus a band of 25 strong men formed the Delta Phi Chapter of Alpha Chi Rho.

The first order of business for the new chapter was to maintain an effective rush and to find a suitable place in which to live. A building at 1621 Tibbits Avenue became Delta Phi’s first home in 1949. As for rush, the size of the house varied from 25 to 40 brothers during the 1950’s. Also during this time, the stature of Alpha Chi Rho grew among the other houses on campus.

Facilities became cramped, making it apparent by 1960 that more room was necessary for the growing membership. The opportunity to purchase “Snyder House”, a building behind the original house (now called “Front House”), arose. Located at 1841 Highland Avenue, the acquisition soon went through. The purchase of Snyder House contributed to growth in the early 1960’s. In 1965, a third house was purchased. “Back House”, like Snyder House, was located on Highland Avenue and was purchased for $10 through a provision in the previous owner’s will.

A fire gutted Front House over Christmas break on January 17, 1982, leaving the Brothers with no common areas or kitchen facilities. The Brothers had to cram into the two back houses and a house rented from Phi Kappa Tau Fraternity. The remains of the old Front House were demolished the following fall, leaving only the front porch standing. A new and much larger Front House was built onto the old porch. The new house was financed through grad and parent donation, a bank mortgage which was subsidized by RPI, and an Alpha Chi Rho loan. On December 27, 1983, Snyder House was broken into and a fire of “mysterious origins” burned the interior of the house. The interior was rebuilt and Snyder House reopened on January 28, 1985.

In 1994, it was determined that Back House could no longer fulfill the housing needs of our Chapter. Plans were made to rebuild the house, but it soon became clear that even a complete replacement of the building would not provide a satisfactory dwelling. The decision was made to purchase the house owned by Barry Taylor ’56, which stands adjacent to Front House at 1625 Tibbits Avenue. Despite opposition from the neighborhood, Taylor House was purchased in 1997. Back House was razed and a new parking area was added. Simultaneously, upgrades were made to the existing parking areas and landscaping. The projected was financed through a bank mortgage.

Taylor House, which can house up to eight Brothers, was converted to serve as fraternity housing. It has been designated as a “substance free” residence. No smoking or drinking is permitted within the house. During Christmas Break, early January of 1996, the pilot light in the boiler of Snyder House went out and the water in the pipes froze. This led to the entire heating system exploding just before the semester began. Brothers returned to their rooms and before the heating system was replaced, used electric heaters to heat the building. Early in the morning of January 28, 1996, a fire was caused by clothing piled on top of a space heater cord, in the room now designated as the Chin. The house was unoccupied for the next three weeks while the heating system was replaced.

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