FeaturesMay 3, 2012 at 3:14 pm

Sweet Digs, Bro! A Penn Frat House Retrospective

Ready for history lesson? Maybe not, after spending the last week decaying in Van Pelt and swearing you’d never commit another fact to memory ever again. But this lesson is, cool. Promise. Because it’s about FRATS. A lot of chapter houses didn’t used to be where they are now, and you might be surprised to find out what houses and buildings former generations of Penn bros called their official man caves. Without further ado, let’s begin a photographic tour of some awesome old Penn frat houses!

Alpha Tau Omega (ATO), ca. 1923

Then: Look at this palatial monstrosity! Pretty weird, yet…seems familiar. It is! ATOs used to live at 3912 Spruce St, now occupied by A House Of Our Own bookstore, where nobody has ever gone.

Now: The chapter house is located at 225 S. 39th Street, across from Harnwell and the Dueling Tampons.



Beta Theta Pi (Beta), ca. 1911

Then: Betas used to live in this swanky townhouse at 3529 Locust, right about where the Sweeten Alumni house stands now. They probably hosted classy cocktail parties. Or not.

Now: The chapter house sits squarely at 39th and Spruce, across the street from Harrison.




Delta Phi (St. Elmo), ca. 1905

Then: This old Elmo fortress at 3453 Woodland Avenue was directly across from College Hall. Perfect for snatching a carrel in VP first thing on a Sunday morning, you say? Nope, because the house was demolished to make way for the construction of Van Pelt. Tragic.

Now: The current house sits at 3647 Locust Walk, across from Steiny D.


Delta Psi (St. A’s), ca. 1904

Then:  Those A’s boys, always doing it up fancy. West Philly? Hardly. The old Hall used to be downtown at 32 S. 22nd Street. The building is still there if you’d like to take a gander.

Now: Probably can’t complain with their pristine house at 3637 Locust Walk next to the Colonial Penn Center.




Kappa Alpha Society (KA), ca. 1923

Then: Look close and you’ll notice the brothers of KA used to reside in what is now the M&T office at 3537 Locust Walk. Also, THOSE CARS! #vintage

Now: The house lives on across the street from Cav’s on 39th Street.




Kappa Sigma (Kappa Sig), ca. 1920

Then: Kappa Sig has always been at 3704 Locust, but they used to have a different house. Wasn’t it cute? That wrap around veranda. So charming.

Now: Without a porch, bros must plop on leather couches and chairs on the ground ouside their front door.


Phi Delta Theta (Phi Delt), ca. 1905

Then: Phi Delts used to live in what’s now the Jaffe History of Art building. You’ve probably discussed the rise of modernism in ARTH102 recitation in the same spot an old brother used to get freaky in his bedroom.

Now: The have prime real estate at 3700 Locust.

Phi Kappa Psi (Phi Psi), ca. 1905

Then:  Imagine if all these frats were still housed in on-campus buildings—Locust must’ve been the old Spruce! Phi Psi’s formerly occupied 3641 Locust Walk, now repurposed as the Colonial Penn Center.

Now: A slightly less becoming house at 3932-3934 Spruce.


Zeta Psi (Zete), ca. 1905

Then: The original Zete house was this ivy-covered row home at 34th and Walnut.

Now: Same spot, different structure. One that gives off the more fitting vibe of an exclusive clubhouse.





Acacia Fraternity, ca. 1908

Then: Acacia, a social frat based on Masonic traditions, was housed in this quaint little abode at 3805 Locust Street, now the Kelly Writers House.

Now: They’re dunzo.

8 People have left comments on this post

By "My car is dunzo" on May 3, 2012 at 3:14 pm

best. link. ever.

By Rachel Z. on May 3, 2012 at 3:14 pm

mikey don’t knock house of our own, they good people :)
as for the post, yaaay architecture and old photos!

By Stay Classy on May 3, 2012 at 3:14 pm

You missed a few.

By Jack Daniels on May 3, 2012 at 3:14 pm

Pretty sure the M&T office was the former DU house. Check out the Front of the building near the M&T sign where it clearly says Delta Upsilon

By DU BROTHER on May 3, 2012 at 3:14 pm

Used to be our house back in the 50s but prior the article clearly says 20s in which it was KA’s house. We were at 36th and Locust in the 20s. http://www.archives.upenn.edu/histy/features/studtorg/frats/deltaupsilon.html

By @DU BROTHER on May 3, 2012 at 3:14 pm


(You’re pretty much the male equivalent of Phi Sig, except you’re somehow still on campus.)

By Jake on May 3, 2012 at 3:14 pm

Also, the Delta Tau Delta house became the Sweeten alumni house (right next to the M&T Office). The letters are engraved in the stones above the door and along the front of the building. I heard there was a fire at one of their parties that burnt the place down, at which point Penn took it over and turned it to the alumni house. Not sure about that story though.

By Sandra Rubinchik on May 3, 2012 at 3:14 pm

Looks like there was in fact a fire at the DTD frat in 1994, but it seems to have taken place at a completely different location, on 39th and Sansom.

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