Campus News

Bowdoin Makes Progress on Residential Life Goals with Purchase of Former Fraternities

Story posted September 01, 2000

Bowdoin College has purchased all but two of its former fraternity houses as part of a plan to create a more inclusive and cohesive residential life system following the elimination of fraternities at the College on June 30.

Five of Bowdoin’s eight remaining fraternity properties were acquired this summer. They are: Alpha Delta Phi (228 Maine St.), Alpha Kappa Sigma (38 Harpswell St), Chi Delta Phi (14 College St.), Kappa Delta Theta (4 College St.), and Theta Delta Chi (5 McKeen St.).

These acquisitions bring to seven the number of former fraternity properties now owned by the College, including two fraternity properties – Delta Sigma (259 Maine St.) and Psi Upsilon (250 Maine St.) – previously purchased by the College. The Delta Sigma fraternity house was dismantled in 1999. The College renovated the former Psi Upsilon house at a cost of $1.5 million and reopened it last fall as Quinby House.

The remaining two former fraternity houses – Chi Psi (7 Boody St.) and Beta Sigma (14 McKeen St.) – are currently being leased to the College. Negotiations for the purchase of both properties are underway.

“The negotiations between the College and the fraternity house corporations have been tough, but fair to both the fraternities and the College,” said Vice President for Planning and Development William A. Torrey, who negotiated the purchase of the fraternity properties on behalf of the College. “Fraternities are an important part of Bowdoin’s history. As we now move forward with much-needed renovations, we will honor that legacy.”

The purchase of the former fraternity properties, in combination with a renovation and expansion of college dining facilities, was mandated by Bowdoin’s Commission on Residential Life. The Commission was established in 1996 to evaluate residential life at Bowdoin. In 1997, after much research and hundreds of interviews with members of the Bowdoin community, the Commission made several recommendations aimed at enhancing students’ learning and growth and fostering a sense of community on campus. A key recommendation was the phasing out over three years of Bowdoin’s fraternity system and the creation in its place of a more inclusive College House System to serve as the backbone of residential life on campus.

The Commission also charged the College with supporting the House System: “[I]t will be the College’s responsibility to provide the structure and resources to enable this system to grown and change on its own.”

Bowdoin will spend between $6 million and $8 million to renovate four of the five houses purchased this summer. Each will eventually become part of the residential life system, either as College Houses or other student residences. The renovations will all take place over the next several years. All major systems of the houses will be upgraded and the buildings will be brought into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Bowdoin will spend $2-3 million to renovate the fifth property purchased this summer – the former Kappa Delta Theta house, located at 4 College St. – as a new admissions facility to be named the Burton-Little House. Work on that facility is now underway and is expected to be completed this spring.

Once acquired by the College, the Beta Sigma house will not be used for student housing. Various other uses, including administrative office space, are under consideration by the College.

The Commission on Residential Life also recommended expanding dining facilities on campus in order to meet the additional dining capacity requirements caused by the elimination of fraternity dining rooms. A major renovation and expansion of the dining facility in the former Wentworth Hall is now nearing completion. The new facility – to be rennamed Thorne Hall in honor of former Board of Trustees Chair Frederick G.P. Thorne ’57 of Manchester, Mass. – includes expanded kitchen facilities, a servery, a main dining room, a separate large dining room and several smaller dining spaces. The former dining hall had a total seating capacity of 460. The new complex, which opened as students arrived on campus this week, can seat a total of 840. Thorne Hall will be dedicated during Homecoming Weekend, Oct. 21-22.

A description of the state of the former fraternity houses follows.

Chi Delta Phi (14 College St.): This fraternity was originally known as Zeta Psi. The College purchased this building from the fraternity corporation in June. The house is serving as student housing for the fall semester only; renovation will begin this spring and should be completed by the fall of 2001. The Boston architectural firm CBT (Childs, Bertman and Tseckores) will work on the project.

Theta Delta Chi (5 McKeen St.): Bowdoin purchased this house in July. It is temporarily closed. Renovation of the house is planned to begin this spring for completion by the fall of 2001.

Alpha Kappa Sigma (38 Harpsell St.): The College purchased this house in June. It is temporarily closed and renovation is planned for 2002 or 2003.

Alpha Delta Phi (228 Maine St.): The College purchased this house in June. Minor renovation work was done, and it is currently being used as a College House. The building will be dedicated as Howell House – in honor of Bowdoin’s tenth president, Roger Howell, Jr. ’58 – during Homecoming weekend, Oct. 21-22. A full renovation is planned for the spring of 2002.

Delta Sigma : This house was dismantled in the fall of 1999. The land is currently being used as a staging area for other campus construction. It will be landscaped when that construction is completed.

Psi Upsilon (250 Maine St.): Bowdoin has owned this house since December of 1998. Renovations to the house were completed in the fall of 1999. Now the Quinby House, it is a part of the College House System.

Chi Psi (7 Boody St.): This house is still owned by the fraternity, but is leased to the College through 2003. It is currently a College House and is known as 7 Boody Street. Bowdoin is negotiating with the fraternity corporation for purchase of the house.

Kappa Delta Theta (4 College St.): Bowdoin has owned this house since June. Renovations are underway and will be completed this spring. It will be renamed the Burton-Little House and will house the Office of Admissions. The architectural firm working on the project is Van Dam & Renner Architects of Portland. Ouellet Associates, Inc. of Brunswick is the general contractor for the project. Renovations will cost between $2 million and $3 million.

Beta Sigma (14 McKeen St.): The College is leasing this house from the fraternity corporation, but is negotiating to purchase it. It is currently vacant. A future use has not been determined, but it will not be used for student housing.

« Back | Campus News | Academic Spotlight | | Subscribe to Bowdoin News by Email