Phi Kappa Beta

A newly established institution of higher learning would adjoin the re-relocated University of Pennsylvania during Penn’s building boom of the 1890s.


In 1892, the doors of the Drexel Institute of Art, Science, and Industry opened at 32nd and Chestnut Streets; an old inn, the “Black Castle,” and the Kean homestead had occupied the site.  Anthony J. Drexel, a powerful Philadelphia financier, and George W. Childs, a well-known philanthropist, provided the initial endowment.  Drexel separately donated $2 million dollars for construction of the still-standing Renaissance-style main building of Drexel Institute. The school aimed at improving employment prospects for both young men and women by providing technical and liberal arts instruction with day and night time classes.


Shortly thereafter, Phi Kappa Beta (PKB) found was found as a local fraternity at Drexel Institute of Technology in 1919 by nine men of kindred friendships, interests and ideals: E.T. White, R.E. Sidwell, J.P. Bully, W.H. Blessing, H.S. Bostwick, C.H. Parker, David Yost, William Toboldt, and George Creighton.  Alpha-Tau Chapter of Tau Kappa Epsilon had its beginning as the Phi Kappa Beta(PKB) Fraternity


One of Drexel’s pioneer fraternities, PKB had for its object, as set forth by the Constitution, to add to the prestige of Drexel Institute and to promote scholarship and athletics among the students. This small group held its first meetings in the Men’s Union but every effort of the local was directed toward obtaining a Chapter House. In 1920 the PKB did rent a House at 217 North 33rd  Street. This was the first House to be occupied by a Drexel fraternity.


By 1929 PKB had gone steadily forward and included in its membership many of the leaders of Undergraduate life at Drexel. Dr. Kenneth Matheson, then Drexel President, honored the Fraternity by becoming an Honorary Member. Traditions had become established and were an integral part of PKB.


Frater Walter Halas (Gamma), coach of the then strong Drexel football squad and an Illinois Teke, was initiated as an Honorary Brother in 1934, as were Capt. F.M. Harris and Walter Henneberg, faculty member.


The local’s financial position improved steadily, and in 1935, with the prospects of better years ahead, the Fraternity moved to a larger home at 3357 Arch Street.


In 1938 Lt. Col. Douglas T. Greene and Dr. Ralph A. D’Orsy became Honorary Members. Major Winifred 0. S1hrum was initiated in 1938 and George Mandle in 1939.


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 PKB desired to become afftliated.


PKB petitioned TKE for installation as an Undergraduate Chapter in April, 1939, and on May 18, 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.


Formal installation into TKE took place Sunday, May 28, 1939 in the Men’s Lounge. The installation ceremony was followed by a formal banquet at the Women’s Dormitory (Van R) in the evening.


The first formal meeting of Alpha-Tau Chapter was held Monday, May 29, 1939, when officers were elected: Prytanis, W. Pierce Ellis; Epi-Prytanis, T. Harmer Seltzer, Jr.; Crysophylos, David W. Campbell; Hegemon, J ay R. Brown; Grammateus, William A. Glover