Phi Gamma Delta's Monuments and Historic Sites:
Pittsburgh hosted eleven Phi Gamma Delta conventions and ekklesiai: 1852, 1863, 1864, 1869, 1884, 1891, 1898, 1911, 1923, 1948, and 1998. Its proximity to Canonsburg makes it a favorite for anniversary events.
At least two brothers served as mayor of Pittsburgh: George W. Guthrie (Pittsburgh 1866) elected 1906, and William N. McNair (Gettysburg 1900, Michigan 1903) elected 1933. Guthrie led the effort to annex Allegheny City, and was thus known as the "First Mayor of Greater Pittsburgh."
Several universities call Pittsburgh home. The University of Pittsburgh (originally the University of Western Pennsylvania) hosted a Phi Gam chapter from 1863-1870, and again from 1916 until 1998.
Questions, comments, additions? E-mail the Curator of Archives.
[ 1852 Convention ] [ 1863 and 1864 Conventions ] [ Monongahela House Hotel ]
[ Hotel Schenley ] [ Soldiers and Sailors Monument ] [ William Penn Hotel ]
[ Western University 1854-1883 ] [ Central Office 1914-16 ] [ Central Office 1916-17 ]
| ||"Arthur's Hall"|
At this time, we do not know the location of the August 5th, 1852 convention. However, a newspaper editorial describes public exercises at "Arthur's Hall". The entertainment consisted of orations, poems, music, and the like. The editorial was highly complimentary of those presenting.
This address was the location of attorneys' offices and a storefront in the 1850s. Arthur's Hall is listed in the 1852 city directory and is also mentioned in records of 1854.
44 Grant Street
Dispatch Building, History of Allegheny Co., Pennsylvania 1876
1863 and 1864 Conventions
The 1863 and 1864 conventions met at Central Hall, in the Dispatch Building. Central Hall was used as a meeting place for various groups, including religious congregations and fraternal organizations. Apparently it was later called "Colfax Hall". The Dispatch was a local newspaper.
August 13-14, 1863 saw four chapters gather. Six chapters met on August 17-18, 1864.
99 Fifth Avenue (originally 69 Fifth Avenue)
Monongahela House, from a postcard
|Monongahela House Hotel (site only)|
1869, 1889, 1891 Ekklesiai
The Monongahela House, long the city's most famous hotel, was rebuilt after an 1845 fire. It was demolished in the mid-1930s. This corner is now the site of the United Way Building (1962).
The conventions of 1869, 1884, and 1891 were held here. Previous conventions (particularly 1863 and 1864) may have lodged here, although the evidence is unclear.
Northwest corner of Smithfield St. and Fort Pitt Boulevard (formerly Water St.)
William Penn Union at University of Pittsburgh.
Hotel Schenley, from a postcard
50th Ekklesia Commemorative Plaque
(University of Pittsburgh's William Penn Union)
1898, 1911, and 1923 Ekklesiai
Just before it "officially" opened, the Schenley hosted Phi Gamma Delta's 1898 Convention, marking the Fraternity's 50th anniversary. This meeting also changed the Fraternity's governing structure from the self-elected "grand chapter" to a convention-elected Board of Archons (later called the Archonate). Afterwards, each convention was called an ekklesia.
At the 75th Anniversary Ekklesia here in 1923, the Fraternity became international by chartering the University of Toronto. It also ended jeweled badges by restoring the "Founders' Badge" that we wear today. Many other changes in laws and structure made this a landmark event.
In 1910 the University of Pittsburgh moved to this area. They acquired Hotel Schenley in 1956, converting it into apartments. Today the it is the University's William Pitt Union.
In 1967 the Fraternity placed a plaque commemorating the 1898 Ekklesia. To see it, enter from Fifth Avenue, opposite the Soldiers and Sailors Monument (see below). Walk left to the end of the lobby and turn right into the Grand Lounge. The plaque is to your left. Turn right to enter the Ballroom.
3959 Fifth Avenue, at the corner with Bigelow Boulevard, and backing to Forbes Avenue.
Hotel Schenley and William Pitt Union History
Soldiers and Sailors Monument
|Soldiers and Sailors Monument|
Across the street from the William Pitt Union, the Soldiers and Sailors Monument celebrates those from Allegheny County who served in the armed forces. The 1923 Ekklesia had its official group photograph made on the front steps. Walk inside the front door and turn about to your left; on the wall by the door is a painting of a cavalry charge, "Farnsworth's Charge and Death" by Almord G. Richmond (Allegheny 1870).
Fifth and Bigelow Avenues
William Penn Hotel, from a postcard
|William Penn Hotel|
1948 and 1998 Ekklesiai
This hotel was completed in 1916 with an addition in 1927-28. The 100th Anniversary Ekklesia in 1948 convened here, as did the 1998 150th Anniversary Ekklesia. Both were held in the Grand Ballroom.
784 gathered June 22-26, 1948. 698 registered August 12-16, 1998.
530 William Penn Place
Western University of Pennsylvania, from A Contribution to Western Pennsylvania Pharmacy:
A History of the Pittsburgh College of Pharmacy 1878-1958
|Western University of Pennsylvania, 1854-1883 (site only)|
Location of Sigma Chapter, 1863-1870
Western University chartered in 1819 and closed after devastating fires in 1845 and 1849. In 1855 it reopened at this location. Here was chartered our original Sigma Chapter, October 3, 1863. The faculty gave the chapter a room in the University building. Perhaps because it was the only fraternity, Sigma ceased in 1870.
Western moved in 1883 and again in 1889. In 1908 it became the University of Pittsburgh. Two years later it relocated to Oakland (see Hotel Schenley). A local fraternity, Phi Zeta Phi, became Pi Sigma Chapter in 1916 after petitioning four consecutive ekklesiai.
Corner of Ross St. and Forbes St. (formerly Diamond St.), location of the City-County Building government center.
|Commonwealth Building, from Skyscrapers.com|
|Central Fraternity Office, 1914-1916|
From 1898 to 1913, the central office held records and a part-time clerk employed by the Archon secretary. However, the Pittsburg office was the first with a full-time salaried staff member. Cal Chambers (Wisconsin '12) recalled, "The 1912 Ekklesia at Indianapolis authorized the Archons to employ a Field Secretary and establish a central office. I started on the job on March 5, 1913. I traveled in the East until June and then set up an office in a room of Tom L. Pouge's law office in Cincinnati. In September I moved to the New York Club. When Harry B. Wassell of Pittsburgh was elected Secretary of the fraternity at the Atlantic City Ekklesia in December, 1913, plans were made for the central office at Pittsburgh. That was really our first central office. It was established in January, 1914, with a full-time stenographer. Then we started to accumulate records . . . . A membership file was set up and we began collecting dues and fees for the Treasurer, handling all official correspondence, etc."
The office was in room 1411. Phi Gamma Delta magazine editor E. B. Hulley was located in room 2003.
The Commonwealth Building was designed by architect Frederick Osterling and built in 1906.
Union Bank Building, from a postcard
|Central Fraternity Office 1916-1917|
On May 24, 1916, the central office moved next door to the Union Bank Building, room 1404. This was adjacent to the business office of Harry Wassell (Bucknell 1900), the archon secretary, in room 1406.
The office remained in Pittsburgh until the 1917 Ekklesia elected Horace Brightman as Archon Secretary. As it was customary for the office to locate where the secretary lived, it moved to New York City.
The Union Bank Building was built in 1906.
1404 Union National Bank Building, 306 Fourth Avenue