The Archives of Phi Gamma Delta

Archives Home  Founders  Traditions  Today in History  Historic Sites  Leaders  Exhibits/References  Contact



The State of California

Phi Gamma Delta first came to California in 1849, a year after the Fraternity's founding, when two members separately arrived during the Gold Rush: Founder John T. McCarty (Jefferson 1848) [biography] and Bolivar Krepps (Jefferson 1849) [article]. With the establishment of our first West Coast chapter at the University of California in 1881 [article], Phi Gamma Delta had arrived for good.

Phi Gamma Delta's history here runs deep: founding place of the renown Pig Dinner, resting site of Founder McCarty and novelist Frank Norris, location of three Ekklesiai, and over the years home to thirteen undergraduate chapters.

Back to Historic Sites by State page

Marysville, California

Grave of Founder John T. McCarty

John T. McCarty (Jefferson 1848) died on February 4, 1860, and was buried in the pioneer cemetery in Marysville. (See his biography.) The grave was unmarked until William F. Chamberlin (Denison 1893) arranged for a stone to be placed here. In 1938 the Fraternity moved McCarty's remains to another nearby cemetery. Directions

Incidentally, fellow Gold Rush pioneer Bolivar Krepps (Jefferson 1849) died shortly after arriving in California. He is buried near Matheneny Creek in the mountains east of Sacramento and Marysville.

Lot C, Section 40, Block 6
Sierra View Memorial Park
4900 Olive Avenue
Marysville, California


Oakland, California

Gravesite of Frank Norris (California 1894)

Frank Norris (California 1894) is heralded as the originator of the Pig Dinner, today an annual tradition at each chapter in Phi Gamma Delta. A noted novelist, his most famous works include McTeague and The Octopus. In the Fraternity he is also known as the author of An Exile's Toast. He died an early death in 1902 at the age of 32.

Norris' widow Kathleen entrusted custody of the grave to the Delta Xi Chapter at Berkeley. In 1954 Arthur H. Bell (California 1911) conceived to add an inscription to the eight-foot-tall monument:.

Beloved by his brothers in
Phi Gamma Delta
who cherish his memory
and testify their gratitude
for his devotion to the

Mountain View Cemetery
5000 Piedmont
Oakland, California


University of California's Faculty Glade, site of 1893 Class Day

Norris Chair in the Hearst Greek Theater, from The Phi Gamma Delta

Berkeley, California

University of California

The roots of the University of California date back to 1860; it moved to this location in 1873. Phi Gamma Delta came here as Gamma Chapter in 1881, although that chapter ceased in 1885. It was resurrected as Delta Xi Chapter the following year. (See related article.)

Our Delta Xi chapter initiated the famous novelist Frank Norris (California 1894), and started the Pig Dinner, now a tradition across the Fraternity. Related historic sites on campus include:

  • Faculty Glade where the story of the Pig Dinner began during the 1893 Class Day proceedings;
  • The Hearst Greek Theater (c. 1903), with a chair in memory of Frank Norris. It reads, "The honesty, the bravery, the faith of Frank Norris all live in his work."

The University of California system's president from 1995 to 2003 was Richard C. Atkinson (Chicago 1949).

The University of California
Visitor Services
101 University Hall
2200 University Ave
Berkeley, California


Delta Xi Chapter House, c.1930 from The Phi Gamma Delta

Berkeley, California

Delta Xi Chapter House (site only)
Location of First Pig Dinner, 1893

In 1887, Delta Xi chapter leased its first chapter house near the University of California campus. This was site of the first Pig Dinner in 1893.

After eight years, the chapter moved into a new home next door. They remained there until 1907. In the early 1930s, the University tore down the first chapter house to build a gym.

Dana Street, between Bancroft and Allston Ways
Berkeley, California


Delta Xi Chapter House, c.1930 from
The Phi Gamma Delta

Pictures of Norris bench courtesy Martin Smith (California 1976) and Delta Xi Chapter. 

Berkeley, California

Delta Xi Chapter House

Designed by Frederick Reimers and built in 1928, this classic Mediterranean style villa has been a Berkeley Designated Landmark since 1990.

Inside the renovated structure one finds two memorials to Frank Norris (California 1894): a carved wood bench and a stained glass window. (See Museum and Library art.)

The bench was donated by Edward Morgan (California 18__) and quotes The Octopus: "Evil is short lived. Never judge of the whole round of life by the mere segment you can see. The whole is, in the end, perfect."

Ingerson & Glaser of San Francisco manufactured the window in 1912. It measures six feet wide by nine feet tall. In 1975, its value was estimated at twenty thousand dollars.

2395 Piedmont Avenue
Berkeley, California


The Old Poodle Dog, from a postcard

San Francisco, California

Poodle Dog Restaurant (site only)
First Reading of An Exile's Toast, 1900

Delta Xi Chapter's Pig Dinner became an annual reunion banquet. It was held at the Old Poodle Dog Restaurant, the night before the Stanford-California football game. Here in 1900 was first read An Exile's Toast by Frank Norris (California 1894). Weekly graduate chapter gatherings were also held here in the 1890s and 1900s.

The Poodle Dog dates back to the 1850s, and opened at this location in 1860. Some of the partners built another Poodle Dog Restaurant at a different address in 1898; the "Old Poodle Dog" remained at the earlier location.

The Poodle Dog was resurrected in various forms and names over the years; a restaurant by that name survived until the 1980s.

Bush Street and Grant Avenue (formerly DuPont)
San Francisco, California


Inside Inn, in the background

San Francisco, California

Inside Inn (site only)
1915 Ekklesia

The 1915 Ekklesia coincided with the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, which ran for ten months and almost nineteen million visits. This world's fair was opportunity for the city and the nation to celebrate its progress. For Phi Gamma Delta, holding an ekklesia at an exposition was a natural progression, since for years brothers had met socially at such national gatherings. Local graduate chapters had sometimes rented homes for lodging visiting brothers (for example, Chicago in 1893, and St. Louis in 1904).

Of the twelve fraternities holding conventions at the time (nine college and three dental), only Phi Gamma Delta had its headquarters inside the Exposition. The Fraternity flag flew from the Inside Inn's flagpole.

The Inside Inn was built in 1915 inside the Exposition grounds. It had 3,000 rooms. Like the other buildings it was meant to last only a few years. Today the only remaining building is the reconstructed Palace of Fine Arts, home of the Exploratorium science museum.

Lombard Street between Lyon and Baker, backed by Chestnut
San Francisco, California


The Ambassador, from a postcard

Los Angeles, California

The Ambassador Hote (site only)
1954 Ekklesia

The largest Ekklesia ever gathered at the Ambassador on September 1-4, 1954. 933 persons registered.

The Ambassador opened in 1921 and quickly became a Hollywood favorite. It hosted the first Golden Globes and six Academy Awards. Sadly, the assassination of Senator Robert Kennedy also took place here.

The National Interfraternity Conference held its 1960 annual meeting at The Ambassador.

The hotel closed in 1989 and was demolished in 2005 by the Los Angeles School Board.

3400 Wilshire Boulevard, between Catalina Street 
and Mariposa Avenue
Los Angeles, California


Palace Hotel, Courtesy the hotel
1972 Ekklesia Banquet, from
The Phi Gamma Delta

San Francisco, California

Sheraton-Palace Hotel

1972 Ekklesia

507 registered for the 124th Ekklesia, held here August 23-26, 1972.

Originally built in 1875, the Palace Hotel burned in the 1906 earthquake and reopened in 1909. 1989 saw a complete restoration.

Incidentally, President Warren Harding died at the hotel on August 2, 1923. He was succeeded in office by the vice-president, Phi Gam Calvin Coolidge (Amherst 1895). 

Palace Hotel
2 New Montgomery Street
San Francisco, California


Back to Historic Sites by State page