|Fraternities, Sororities, and Independent Living Groups|
|Address:||532 Beacon Street, Boston|
chapter = Alpha Theta
The Alpha Theta chapter of the Sigma Chi fraternity is one of MIT's numerous fraternities. Located at 532 Beacon Street in Boston, Alpha Theta Sigma Chi is the oldest continuous fraternity at MIT, having been founded on March 22nd, 1882.
Alpha Theta Sigma Chi is home to 30 active brothers, nearly all of whom reside at 532 Beacon Street, where we hold many social events, from large parties, to mixers, to Tea, our weekly Wednesday party. Our brothers form a diverse group of men, hailing from all across America and the world, with many different interests and skills. More than half our brothers participate in Varsity athletics, representing Captains from three different varsity teams, and brothers regularly attend MIT sporting events to support each other. But, our brothers are also well balanced, with the 2nd highest GPA of all 26 MIT fraternities in 2010. More about the active brothers can be found at: http://sigmachi.mit.edu/brothers/
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology was originally conceived to fill the need for a technical school with status equal to a liberal arts college. However, like all technical institutions of the day, MIT drew almost all of its students from local communities, rather than from a regional or national area. As a result, no effort was made to house the students.
Times were changing however, and soon Boston Tech, then located at Boylston and Berkeley Streets, became nationally known. Students came from all sections of the country, but MIT still did not consider student welfare its responsibility.
Such a situation led to the development of fraternities. After an unsuccessful attempt to establish a local fraternity at MIT in the fall of 1881, two of the originators met some members of the Omega chapter of Sigma Chi at a football game over Thanksgiving, and discussed fraternities with them. The result was that on March 21, 1882, Orlo D. Skinner and William B. Meyers, of Phi chapter, Lafayette, installed the first permanent fraternity on the MIT campus. It was the first Sigma Chi chapter in New England, and the forty fourth of the present International Fraternity. The ten founders, in order of initiation, were:
- Herbert F. Bardwell
- Winthrop Alexander
- Frederick O. Harriman
- Edgar C. Hillyer
- Henrey F. Baldwin
- Frank F. Johnson
- T. Coleman DuPont
- Robert B. Moore
- Charles A. Herpic
- Daniel A. Campbell
The first meetings were held in the rooms of the members but in November of 1882 they changed to Berkeley Hall. In 1886 they leased a suite of apartments near the Institute. 1887 saw a move to Oxford Terrace; 1888, the Hotel Clifton. In 1890, Sigma Chi moved to an apartment on Huntington Avenue. In 1902, they moved to 1067 Beacon Street, Brookline.
When the United States entered the First World War, the fraternity house closed down, all students having been drafted, and then sent back to school in uniform. A few weeks after the Armistice, the brothers reassembled and rented rooms in the old Fritz-Carleton Hotel on Boylston Street. This location was unsatisfactory, but soon a house was found which had been unoccupied for years. It was located at 532 Beacon Street.
On January 1, 1919, Sigma Chi leased 532 Beacon St. from the heirs of Francis W. Kittredge, a Yale Law School graduate, for whom the house was originally built. On May 1, 1924, the chapter purchased the house for $40,000 (a shade under $520,000 in 2006 dollars)—they had raised $28,000 from alumni over the last 15 years, and took out a loan to pay the rest. The three original house Trustees were Dr. Henry M. Chase, George M. Angier, and John Bruce McPherson. The house was complete with pipe organ, and was unique in the fraternity world until its removal in the late 1930's in the World War II scrap drives. The famed opera star, Madame Ernestine Schumann-Heink, once sang in the house when she visited her son Henry Heink, class of 1910. Numerous others among the near-great have tread the halls of 532 Beacon.
With more than 125 pledge classes having graduated MIT as members of Sigma Chi, it is an understatement to say that Alpha Theta has a strong alumni base. The corporate board that owns our house at 532 Beacon Street is comprised of alumni and active members, and both parties work together for the good of the house, helping to maintain close relations with our alumni. Alumni also organize events at the chapter house, ranging from a career night, where Alpha Theta alumni come talk to the chapter (electronically as well as physically) about their careers and give advice about the job search, to large reunions every 5 years (2012 will mark the 130th anniversary of Alpha Theta).This past Spring (Spring 2011), alumni organized a reception in the memory of Robert (Bob) Swanson '69, after his donations to the new Koch institute at MIT resulted in the creation of the Swanson Biotechnology Center ( http://ki.mit.edu/sbc).
Some notable Alpha Theta alumni include:
- Thomas du Pont 1885, chapter founder, President DuPont Chemical, US Senator for Delaware.
- Alfred du Pont 1886, DuPont Chemical.
- James R. Killian 1925, 10th President of MIT.
- Alex d'Arbeloff '49, co-founder of Teradyne.
- C. Bruce Tarter '61, former director of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
- Kenneth Morse '68, co-founder of 3Com.
- Bob Swanson '69, co-founder of Genentech.
- David B. Ashley '73 8th President of University of Nevada Las Vegas.