The Archives of Phi Gamma Delta

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



Phi Gamma Delta - Clubhouses

Back to Monuments & Historic Sites page 

New York City

Former Phi Gamma Delta Club, 1928-1962

The lot at 106 West 56th Street was purchased for a new Phi Gamma Delta Club in the fall of 1923.  The cornerstone was laid on November 3, 1927, and the Club was dedicated February 16, 1928.  The fifty by ninety foot, nine-story building featured 106 hotel rooms, along with a dining room, two lounges, a men's bar, exercise facilities, and a library. 

The Club had an immense emotional and social role for the Fraternity.  However, the Depression brought financial difficulties, requiring appropriations from the Fraternity.  In 1950 the Fraternity assumed ownership of the Club and sought to pay off the mortgage and establish profitability; but by 1961 the building required a prohibitively expensive overhaul.  In a much-lamented decision the Fraternity sold the Club on June 29th, 1962.

Since then it has served as offices for America, a weekly Jesuit magazine.  The building retains a limestone carving of the coat-of-arms above the second story window.

106 West 56th Street, between Sixth and Seventh Avenues.  

The Royalton; Phi Gamma Delta Club rooms 1907-1909 and 1921-1928

The Phi Gamma Delta Club had its first headquarters at the Royalton, a "bachelor hotel," from November 1, 1907 until the construction of the clubhouse at 34 West 44th in 1909.  The Club returned to the Royalton on December 6, 1921 after the clubhouse's lease expired.  There it remained until the 1928 completion of the new clubhouse on West 56th.

The Royalton today is an upscale hotel, remodeled in a modernist style.

44 West 44th Street, between 5th and 6th avenues

Phi Gamma Delta Club, 1909-1921 (site only)

After the turn of the century many organizations, including college alumni groups and fraternities, built clubhouses in New York.  These were patterned to a degree after London's gentlemen's clubs.

In 1908 the Phi Gamma Delta Club signed a lease on a lot owned by the New York City Bar Association; by February 1909 they had built the new clubhouse as designed by Washington Hull (Columbia '87).  It provided lodging, dining, and entertainment for residents and visitors alike, especially servicemen en route to or from the European theater during World War One.

When the land lease expired at the end of 1921, the Bar Association declined to renew it.  The Club moved back to the Royalton.  The building was torn down in 1924 and replaced with an office tower.

34 West 44th Street

Site of the Delta Club, 1888-1890

On April 20, 1888 the Delta Club moved into this leased home, former home of the Columbia College Club.  The Columbia and CCNY chapters also held meetings here.

When the Columbia Chapter moved in 1890, the Delta Club closed.

The site was located on the south side of 49th Street between Madison and Park Avenue, directly across from Columbia College. The College became Columbia University in 1896 and relocated uptown to its current campus in 1897.

68 East 49th Street

Joint Chapter Rooms and Royal Delta Club, 1887-1888

"In the fall of 1887 a joint committee of Upsilon [City College] and Omega [Columbia], having reached the decision that a club-house was necessary to the continuance and success of the fraternity in New York, engaged rooms at No. 13 West 42nd Street. The expense being heavy, they invited as many recent graduates as could be found to share it with them. A goodly number gathered one night at the home of J. W. White, College of the City of New York '85, and adopting a simple scheme of organization, formed the Royal Delta Club for purposes purely social. They agreed to meet every second Tuesday, and as the news spread, more and more graduates began to attend those fortnightly smokers at the chapter rooms. By January, 1888, there were at least thirty members, and the more ambitious of them proposed the idea of a real club-house."
--The History of Phi Gamma Delta, Tomos Beta

 Number 13 was probably among the townhomes depicted to the left. Across 42nd Street was the Croton Reservoir (1842-1900), later dismantled for the construction of the New York Public Library. Next door at the intersection of 42nd and 5th Avenue was the Hotel Bristol.

13 West 42nd Street

Phi Gamma Delta Club, c. 1894

"The club idea, however, was too good to die . . . and in May, 1894, the Phi Gamma Delta Club was organized at 503 Fifth Avenue, at the northeast corner of Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street.  The object of this club, too, was at first purely social.  No regular meetings were held, business being handled by a governing board of twelve . . . . An article in the October, 1894, magazine invites callers to drop in on Thursday evenings when they will be most likely to find a congenial throng discussing a game of billiards, cards, or otherwise passing an agreeable evening. . . .  By 1896 membership had increased to seventy . . . .  Here the fate of the original Delta Club repeats itself in the disintegration of the first Phi Gamma Delta Club of New York.  Smokers were given spasmodically and finally were discontinued."  --The History of Phi Gamma Delta, Tomos Beta

 503 Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street, cattycorner from New York Public Library


World's Fair Clubhouse 1893

The Kappa Graduate Chapter organized in January 1893. Almost immediately they sought a site for brothers to gather during the World's Columbian Exposition. Held from May to October, 1893, this "world's fair" had a total attendance exceeding 25 million.

Brothers secured "a fine, three-story and basement, stone-front house on one of the finest streets in Englewood . . . . a little over a mile west from the Fair grounds." The home lodged up to twenty-five.

Undergraduates and graduates visited the Fair from as far away as California and New York. At least one Phi Gam banquet was held at the New York building. Every day at noon, Greeks gathered at the Indiana building to give fraternity cheers.

749 63rd Court [today probably E 63rd Street]


The Phi Gamma Delta Club of Detroit, 1920-34

The Delta Mu Graduate Chapter opened Detroit's Phi Gamma Delta Club in May, 1920. It was located at a large mansion formerly belonging to a prominent local family.

"The first floor is given over entirely to common rooms -- a spacious reception hall, library, den, ballroom and dining room, with generous fireplaces, well equipped kitchen and storerooms . . . . Upstairs are bedroom accommodations for as many as twenty-four men. Built of tapestry brick and limestone, roofed with slate, and located on a lot which affords ample space for the erection of an eight-car garage and a tennis court, the Detroit Club is first of all a splendid practical investment . . . ."  --The History of Phi Gamma Delta, Tomos Beta

Brothers visited the club during the 1932 Ekklesia, held a mile or so away at the Book Cadillac Hotel. "The Club served meals at ridiculously low prices and created tremendous good-will among the brothers from afar. The night after the Ekklesia closed an informal dance at the clubhouse provided a memorable farewell to the visiting Fijis."

By the April 1934 issue of The Phi Gamma Delta, the Detroit Club no longer appeared on the directory listing. The Great Depression closed the all-too-brief life of our second club operation. Today, Wayne State University's College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences occupies the site.

229 Mack Avenue (formerly Rowena Street)

Back to Monuments & Historic Sites page