Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project

 

 
Delta Tau Delta Founder's House

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Institution Name: Bethany College (WV)
Original/Historic Place Name: Delta Tau Delta Chapter House (Curtis Boarding House)
Location on Campus: Church St.
Date(s) of Construction:
ca. 1853-1856original design Curtis, Jacob E.
1978renovation Grigg, Wood, & Brown
Designer: Jacob E. Curtis; Grigg, Wood, & Brown
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Greek revival (Glossary)
Significance: architecture, education, history
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Materials:
Foundation: local limestone laid up in lime mortar, 24" thick, tapering to 18"
Walls: brick
Roof: wood shingle (original was probably cedar)
 
Function:
ca. 1858-2002other (Delta Tau Delta Fraternity house)
1975-2002other (office of Heritage Resource Centre)
 

Narrative:
This was the founding house of the Delta Tau Delta Fraternity and is one of approximately 16 extant structures in the Bethany Historic District built prior to the 1860s. An article published in 1978 reports that the house was built on the foundation of an old tavern or inn (The Rainbow of Delta Tau Delta 101.4, [Athens, Ohio: Delta Tau Delta Fraternity, Summer 1978]), although this claim has not been authenticated. It is known that William Kimbrough Pendleton and his wife Lavinia lived in an old inn in 1841-1842 while Pendleton Heights was being built, but the location of that inn has not been established. No records have been found at the Brooke County Courthouse to establish the exact date that a house was built on the lot, but the land book for 1860 shows that Jacob E. Curtis paid taxes on an improved lot at that time. However, deed books and tax land books support the theory, however, that the house was built between 1853 and 1856.

It was here that eight Bethany College students first met in the spring of 1858 and founded Delta Tau Delta, a social fraternity. The students were Jacob S. Lowe, Richard H. Alfred, Henry K. Bell, William R. Cunningham, Alexander C. Earle, John L. N. Hunt, John C. Johnson, and Eugene Tarr. The Bethany group was the principle undergraduate chapter from 1859-1861. After the Civil War, the chapter returned to Bethany in 1867, but financial difficulties caused the National Fraternity to revoke the charter. The chapter returned to Bethany in 1965. In addition to being the founding house of Delta Tau Delta, the house has also served as a private residence, a boarding house, a teahouse, a display area for Delta Tau Delta national fraternity, and the office of the Heritage Resource Center (later named Historic Bethany). Historic Bethany vacated this building in the spring of 2002. The future plan is for the house to be used as a national archive for Delta Tau Delta fraternity.

In 1978, the college completed a restoration of the historic structure under the direction of Grigg, Wood, & Brown Architects. Mark Trushel was the contractor for the project.
 

References:

Browne, Henry J. Bethany Historic District [including Bethany College (WV)]. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1982.

Harding, James E. Delta Tau Delta Founders House [Bethany College (WV)]. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1979.

 

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