The Fife Residence


It has been just seven short years ago that the brothers of Alpha Tau returned from military service to find themselves without a chapter house. After conferring with several faculty members at Drexel, it was deemed wise to use their last two thousand dollars toward the purchase of a chapter house.

The Fraters of Alpha Tau are deeply indebted to Mr. Harold E. Budd, professor of law at Drexel, for his sincere and untiring efforts in securing our former house. If Mr. Budd had not posted bond for the eight Tekes who returned to Drexel from World War II, we of Alpha Tau would not be in the fortunate position we are today. As soon as these eight men established residence on campus, the Board of Control set up a budget for the chapter which included adequate funds for the liquidation of the mortgage and also established a building fund. It was on the Annual Spring Weekend of 1952 that we burned the mortgage of our chapter house, which was located at 210 North 34th Street: four years prior to maturity.

This was only the beginning, as many fraters had already begun to consider the possibilities of a more desirable chapter house that would more than fill our needs. Many plans were under consideration. Some thought it would be unwise in these troubled times to again obligate the men of Alpha Tau with such a financial burden. Others were a little more optimistic: they dreamed of an ideal fraternity house on campus of Drexel Institute of Technology. Located on campus is the estate of the late Dr. Charles E. Fife, who was a prominent pediatrician in the Philadelphia area for many years. Dr. Fife’s home is a typical southern mansion, and it has been considered by all the fraternities on campus as the ideal chapter house. Late in October, 1952, Mrs. Fife approached Dr. James A Creese, President of Drexel Institute of Technology, with an offer to sell the house to the school. Dr. Creese contacted Professor Budd who in turn contacted Fraters James Canfield, William Mackie and Walton Loweree, the newly formed house search committee of Alpha Tau.

The members of this committee began to function with the confidence of a wellorganized business machine. Contact was made with the Board of Control and meeting followed meeting. Finally in November Mrs. Fife invited fraters Swackhammer and Toewe, members of the Board of Control, and fraters Mackie and Canfield to inspect the house. Frater Mackie was instrumental in bringing together the Board of Control and the administrators of Drexel, who in turn worked out a successful plan that lightened the financial burden of the chapter.

The new “Teke House” on Drexel’s campus contains twenty-five rooms, ten of which are bedrooms, housing forty men comfortably. On the first floor there is a library, two living rooms, a large dining room and a modern kitchen. The house is beautifully set off with a formal garden in the rear and a spacious lawn surrounding its handsome entrance.

The attractive appearance of the interior of the house can be attributed to a great extent to the efforts of Jack and Jane Buckley. As we look back on the past six months’ activities at Alpha Tau we realize that we have passed successfully another milestone in our chapter’s history. The step was a big one, but a carefully planned and well executed one.

And so, Alpha Tau, beginning with a small group of men with nothing more than a few sound ideas and a willingness to work, has climbed to a position of leadership and admiration on the campus of Drexel Institute of Technology in seven short years.

[Excerpted From the Dragon TKE, 1953]