Bye Bye Phi

Posted by JMcVerry on March 22, 2010 

University Park is a beautiful campus. There are tree-lined sidewalks, picturesque views of mountains and Pennsylvania's natural sites. And Physical Plant's landscaping does a great job with seasonal flowers throughout the year—like the hoards of daffodils poking their way through Old Main lawn right now.

However, for a university that is 150+ years old, the architecture is a bit lacking. You have Old Main, and 900 brick buildings. Yes, there are the small cabins and the Pattee Mall area is nice, but the collection of campus architecture is nothing one would describe as "breathtaking" or overly historic.

I don't know the reason. Is it due to the school's humble beginnings, and the fact that it didn't have its major growth period until the 1950-60s? Giving us eyesores like the monstrous Hammond Building? Also, I've seen old pictures with the Armory and engineering buildings that made the campus look pretty sharp—they are long gone.

Regardless, I am purposefully leaving out some of the university's most interesting and charming buildings—the fraternity houses on Burrowes. And one of those houses will soon meet its maker. The university purchased the Phi Delta Theta house last week for $1.75 million. The house, 240 N. Burrowes, with its high Corinthian columns and over 100-year history is truly one of the unique gems on the University Park campus. For visitors traveling up the road lined with elms, the Phi Delta house is a head turner and adds to the academic feel, scenic charm, and historic aura of Penn State.

DISCLAIMER: I have no idea what is planned for the location, but the general consensus (people who don't make decisions) is that it's good as gone. But, if rumors are true, it may become a small park or even a parking lot. Yuck. With its close proximity to the space-station looking IST building, another building will most likely not be constructed on the location. Apparently, there is heaps of upkeep that needs to be done, but I'd say it's worth it.

Drop a million bucks for a sitting area/park? Or drop a million bucks to refurbish this beautiful house into classrooms or offices or a lab or a Penn State history museum or residence halls. I'd venture to guess that anyone with a beating heart would love the chance to work, study, learn, live, and/or research in this remarkable house. 

So, even though administrators know that we'll all forget about it in a few years (probably less), it's sad. It's sad for the 100 years of fraternity brothers. It's sad for the thousands of Penn State visitors, students, and alumni who have appreciated the building. It's sad for a campus that prides itself on tradition, while razing its oldest and most pristine buildings—and raising atrocities like the IST Building and the painful future monstrosity that is the Millennium Science Complex—students don't want playing fields, roller hockey rinks, and tennis courts near their resident halls. They want a space ship that's half buried that they have no need for. However, that's another conversation—I'll bore you another time. 

So, the Phi Delta house's days are most likely numbered. It could be gone by the time fall arrival is here, and a new crop of freshman will stroll up Burrowes Street oblivious to the 100-year-old piece of Penn State history that once was. It makes me wonder what will be left when I return in 40 years. Let's hope Hammond is gone by then.

blog post photo

Photo from Collegian


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