History


Before we became the Tau Kappa Epsilon Alpha-Tau Chapter, we were a local fraternity called Phi Kappa Beta (ΦΚΒ) which was founded in 1919 by nine men of kindred friendships, interests and ideals, including E. T. White, R. E. Sidwell, J. P. Hully, W. H. Bleming, H. S. Bostwick, C. H. Parker, David Yost, William Toboldt and George Creighton. ΦΚΒ’s first chapter house was established in 1935 and located at 3357 Arch Street.

 

Nationalization had been considered since 1935, and in 1938 TKE was selected as being the National Fraternity which exemplified the ideals and organization with which ΦΚΒ desired to become affiliation. After primary inspection in December, 1938, an unconditional dispensation by and petition to Tau Kappa Epsilon was given in January 1939. At a regular meeting of ΦΚΒ on January 24th, 1939, a unanimous vote of the members favored taking advantage of this dispensation, and ΦΚΒ officially petitioned TKE for installation as an Undergraduate Chapter in April, 1939, and on May 18th, 1939, Grand Prytanis C. E. Smith appointed an installation team consisting of Chief Officer Carl E. Marquardt, Walter H. Halas, Harry Donnelly, Charles Browning, and H. P. Flint.

 

The first formal meeting of Alpha-Tau Chapter was held Monday, May 29th, 1939, when officers were elected:

 

Prytanis                     W. Pierce Ellis

Epi-Prytanis              T. Harmer Selter, Jr.

Crysophylos              David W. Campbell

Hegemon                  Jay R. Brown

Grammateus             William A. Glover

 

The chapter has always been desirous of purchasing a house and by December 1942, savings for that purpose had grown to $3,000, but it was decided to postpone buying a house until after World War II ended. With more and more members going into the Armed forces, it became impractical to operate the Chapter House, so on June 1, 1943, the chapter held what was to be the last regular meeting until after the War. At this meeting it was decided to drop the lease on the house and store all chapter belongings.

 

The first regular meeting after World War II was held on January 28th, 1946, with Frater Wilson Landis presiding. With the return of the fraters from service – Alpha-Tau boasted 135 members in the armed forces in the early ‘40s – it was decided to purchase a house with the funds saved. With the generous and able help of Harold Budd, Professor of Law at Drexel, arrangements were made for the purchase of Alpha Tau’s first chapter house located at 210 N. 34th Street, (now the Pi Kappa Alpha house).

 

TKE bought the present chapter house from Dr. & Mrs. Fife for $24,000. Mr. Harold Budd also helped us purchased the present chapter house at 3421 Powelton Avenue. Upon purchase of the house, $7,000 in repairs and renovations were made. In fact, Mrs. Fife had two buyers for the house:  TKE and an old age home. TKE’s bid  was much lower than the old age home.  Ray recalls Mrs. Fife stating why our fore Fraters were sold the house.  In her words, “It would be a shame for this house to become a place where people go, in order to wait to die. My husband and I threw such great parties here.  I do not want to see that tradition end. I want it to continue”.

 

There is a plaque dedicated to the wife of Charles Fife in the library on the first floor.  It reads as follows:

 

THE FRATERS OF

TAU KAPPA EPSILON

DEDICATE THIS LIBRARY

TO THEIR ESTEEMED FRIEND,

MARY FEBIGER FIFE;

OCTOBER 25, 1953

 

There were two stipulations made when we bought the house.  The first was that a formal garden be kept in the back of the house as long as a member of the Fife family lived.  The second was that the house be registered with the Philadelphia Historic Society.  The Alpha-Tau Chapter House is the only Georgian style manor in Philadelphia and for this reason it cannot be condemned. Construction of the house was begun in 1898 and was completed in 1901 at a cost of $100,000. There are no fires allowed in the house for safety reasons and because of Philadelphia fire laws.

 

During Spring Weekend of 1960, the mortgage for the Alpha Tau House was burned as proof to show that the house had been totally paid for.  It was burned by the Fraters with the highest and lowest scroll numbers in the house; Charlie Bryden and Joe Lescavage.  Also in 1960 we “sold” our house to Drexel University for tax purposes.  The house can be bought back for the price of $1.00 at any time.

 

After 40 years of use the House started to need some repair.  In the early 1990’s alumni of the Alpha Tau Chapter raised $500,000 during a three year span from 1990 to 1993.  The efforts were led by Frater Robert L. Byers and his efforts are a reminder of our commitment to the fraternity.  On June 13, 1992, the brotherhood dedicated the West Living Room to Frater Byers.  The Plaque in the living room reads:

 

THE FRATERS OF

TAU KAPPA EPSILON

DEDICATE THIS ROOM TO

ROBERT. L BYERS, A.T. 541

FOR HIS OUTSTANDING

CONTRIBUTION AND COMMITMENT

TO ALPHA TAU CHAPTER

JUNE 13, 1992

 

During that same time period, in 1992, at the behest of Bob Byers AT 541, Ray Daikeler became President of the Alumni Association.  Ray played an integral part in raising money for the repairs made in 1992 and thereafter.  The Alumni Association is responsible for the annual membership mailings, major fund raising and oversees the Board of Advisors. They also hold an annual breakfast to discuss the state of the chapter. Without his involvement, the chapter would clearly be a much different place than it is today.

 

Ray Daikeler was born on October 1st, 1932. He came to Drexel in 1950, after being Valedictorian in his high school.  His father encouraged him to join a fraternity in order to round out his college experience.  In the winter of his Sophomore Ray pledged TKE; that spring he was initiated as Alpha-Tau scroll 366.

 

Ray’s initial TKE home was located at 210 North 34 Street. Shortly after his initiation, we bought 3421 from Mary Febiger Fife.  In the fall of 1952, he remembers fondly carting his belongings from 210 N 34th to 3421 Powelton as one of the first brothers to live in our home.  He also speaks highly of a kind elderly woman, Mary Febiger Fife, with whom he had the pleasure of meeting several times.

 

He chose to live in the room which is currently called the Barn and finished out his college career in the Swamp, he liked it so much here he decided to live there another year, post his 1954 graduation. While an undergrad Ray was active in IFC Athletics as well as serving as Hegemon. Ray was also active in Drexel Athletics as the first male cheerleader at DU.  His involvement with Drexel continues today, as the Master of Ceremony for Drexel’s “Sports Fans of the 50’s”.

 

To commemorate Frater Raymond C. Daikeler’s work as the President of Alpha Tau’s Alumni Board and as the President of Alpha Tau’s Alumni Association, during the 2005 Alumni Cocktail members of Alpha Tau past and present gathered to dedicate the East Living room to Frater Daikeler.  The plaque in the living room reads:

 

THE FRATERS OF

TAU KAPPA EPSILON

DEDICATE THIS ROOM TO

RAYMOND C. DAIKELER, A.T. 366

FOR HIS OUTSTANDING

CONTRIBUTION AND COMMITMENT

TO ALPHA TAU CHAPTER

JANUARY 22, 2005

 

During the summer of 2004, the Alpha-Tau Chapter house underwent major renovations.  With a loan from Drexel University, the old loft systems in the rooms were removed and the rooms were gutted to allow the installation of a fire sprinkler system.  Included among the renovations was the purchase of new furniture for each room allowing each brother to have a lofted bed, a dresser, and desk.

 

During the summer of 2005, the room known as the Coves was further renovated with the installation of a bathroom to accommodate for the newly installed Resident Director.  This marks a huge step forward for Alpha Tau.

 

Alpha Tau Teke is the only Chapter to win the “Top Teke” award in consecutive years four times, 1957 & 1958 and 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966 & 1967 and 1980 & 1981 and 2005, 2006, 2007 & 2008.  We are also the only Chapter to win this award 19 times (1957, 1958, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1975, 1978, 1980, 1981, 1989, 1992, 1993, 2000, 2005, 2006, 2007 & 2008).  We were also named the “Most Improved” Chapter for the 1974-1975 school year.  The Chapter Charter hangs in the Dining Room.  Alpha Tau 1 is Charles Morris Hobson, Jr.  The first Prytanis was Wilbur Pierce Ellis, Jr.

 

As you can see, the Alpha Tau Chapter is one of the leading Chapters in Tau Kappa Epsilon.  We have a history that we take pride in but we are not content to rest on past laurels.  It takes effort from all of the members to become a consistent Top Teke Chapter.  The present membership is willing to work for this goal; we hope you will join us.