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HOME and GARDEN: A Brotherhood Restored

A house – once filled with the sounds of a college fraternity: boys whooping and hollering over a football game in the social room; notes from the band party in the basement curling their way up the stairs; wild tales of members’ everyday college lives – is now filled with the sounds of nail guns, saws cutting wood, and stories of great memories from men all grown up.

When walking up to the Delta Chi Alumni House on Three Notch Street, there may not be the typical scene of a group of college fraternity brothers together, but instead something much more special meets your eye. Alumni look to this house – their house – with pride shining in their eyes, proud of their memories being preserved in its wooden walls.

For John Ferguson, purchasing the beaten-down shell of what used to be the Delta Chi fraternity house may have seemed strange to outsiders. “I was told that buying this house was not a smart economic decision. But, I was quick to mention that it was not an economic decision at all.” John, a Delta Chi alumnus, knew that his brothers would be by his side, as they have been for many years, in the restoration of the house that they had once called home. “It is a project that we are all excited to complete with the help of each other.”

He was right. Brothers, both local and out-of-town, have all stepped in to contribute to the restoration process. Anyone who drives by the house, located on Three Notch Street, on any given day will probably be met with the sight of a group of these men, hard at work to breathe life back into the walls of this home.

Scott Little stepped in as Project Manager soon after John’s purchase. A former president of the chapter, Scott recalls his time in the president’s suite and what it means to see it restored now. “In a word, it is heartwarming. This would have been a gas station, or some other development and the city would have lost a treasure if we didn’t step in to save it.”

He is one of many who have taken their skills from their adulthood and donated their time to aid in the project. “It’s more than just Delta Chi, it’s the historical preservation that we take pride in. But it’s extra special that we as a fraternity used to call this house home and can once again.”

Originally built in 1907, the mansion once belonged to a prominent Troy family. It boasted a four-story build with features unheard of by many at the time, including a finished attic and walk-in closets. What would cost millions of dollars to construct today, the house is filled with marvels of the past like carriage steps on the front porch and an ice box in the basement. Many years later, it was purchased
and became home to the brothers of Delta Chi.

While much has changed since being built, a great deal of the original character of the house has remarkably remained intact. Subway-tiled floors covering almost every bathroom and the kitchen, small built-ins adding character to many walls, and gothic-style windows providing natural light each tell the tale of the home’s unique architecture.

To alumni brothers of Delta Chi, it is not the small details that drew them back to this house. But instead, brotherhood in its simplistic form drives the project to completion. Richard Mays, who will soon call the mansion home – pending the completion of his first-floor suite – realizes the sheer manpower it has taken to reach the state the house is in now. “It has taken dozens and dozens of alumni to make this happen. It’s not just one person. We have all come together to make it happen.” He has even provided the house its own mascot; his dog Bud who stands guard at the home, ready to greet guests with a wagging tail and goofy grin.

One “Work Saturday” a month sometimes turns into many full work weeks for the restorers. Especially as they work to host events, including Open Houses and reunions to showcase their progress. Mike LeCroy, another familiar face to the project is excited about the possibilities this project holds. “A lot of people come back now and are surprised that we would come back to this house. But just to see what progress we have made in just a few months is remarkable.”

The alumni are amazed by the work that they complete each time they get together. “It’s amazing what 35 or so brothers can get accomplished in just one day,” Mike explains. “They could move a mountain,” Scott adds.

The work done at the site is not without its fair share of play. The men often remember their chapter’s traditions, poke fun at their fellow Troy fraternities, and joke about some of the mistakes they made in college.

Mark Kelly, a Troy native, remembers his time living in the Delta Chi house vividly. He tells stories of many days watching ballgames with his fraternity brothers. His reminiscence acts as a vision, a peek for outsiders into the stories the walls of the house could tell. “This for us is a continuous homecoming. We see our brothers every year during football season, but we are excited for them to come all year long now.”

The Delta Chi alumni have big plans for the house upon its completion. They hope that the house serves as both a lodge for brothers passing through town and an event space for both the alumni and current Delta Chi brothers. John explains that when the suites are fully remodeled on the top two floors, they will be host to fellow alumni brothers upon their arrivals in Troy. “If the brothers come through and need a place to stay, the house is open to them. And at no cost to them.” They expect to see large crowds during Homecoming Weekend and other football games as well as during baseball and basketball seasons.

It is John’s hope that this restoration project may inspire others to do the same and restore the beautiful homes of Troy. Delta Chi continues to work on the home but, most importantly they are rekindling friendships and strengthening the bonds of brotherhood.  The home not only holds countless memories, but it is their anticipation that the restoration of this house will offer a place for new memories to be made.

Story by Anna Shay Wasden

For more stories from the March/April edition of TroyLife, call and make an appointment to pick up a copy at The Messenger office.