On October 13, 1868 Charles Fitch Hendryx and Pascal Charles Joseph DeAngelis formed an organization that became known as the Xi Chapter of Chi Phi. Chi Phi and Zeta Psi were founded on the same night, and a coin was flipped to see who would officially be the first house founded at Cornell – Chi Phi lost the flip. However, Chi Phi quickly established a prominent position at the new university, due mainly to the earnest efforts of the fifteen original members.
Students flocked to Cornell in the early 1870’s and Xi immediately took and held an important position at Cornell. The chapter’s fortunes fell and rose with those of the University, and in 1881, with admissions declining, Xi alumni and undergraduates decided to relinquish the chapter’s charter. At that time, the brothers felt it was more important to retain the standards upon which the chapter was founded, rather than see them sacrificed. This philosophy remains within the heart the Xi chapter to this day.
In 1887, W.F.D, Crane and J. Herbert Ballantine, along with William B. Smith and alumni Robert Treman, Eben Treman and William H. Miller, reactivated the Xi Chapter. The chapter’s charter was officially restored on February 17, 1888. Xi soon had a footing at Cornell, and in 1890, with the help of George A. Wardlow ’92 and Arthus N. Gibb ’90, a lot was purchased from Franklin Cornell, the son of Ezra Cornell, for the location of a new chapter house. J. H. Ballantine ’89 and W.H. Miller ‘72 made significant contributions to the project. Actual building operations were commenced in the fall of 1890, and by the spring of 1891, the beautiful lodge was ready for occupancy. This lodge, appropriately named Craigielea, meaning “house on the hill,” still stands today as a monument to the ideals of brotherhood for which this chapter was founded.
Before the building of Craigielea, there had been no physical nucleus for the chapter, but the feeling of brotherhood was always present. To such men as Hendryx, DeAngelis, Treman, Levine, Ballantine, Gibb, and William Torey Morris, this feeling was a strong bond. Now this intangible purpose was symbolized by the new chapter house.
The 1890’s were good years for the Xi, as many of the university’s top men were pledged and initiated. Men such as Waldo Stewart Kellogg, Charles S. Tracey, William K. Lanman and Henry Mersereau helped build Xi stronger. In 1898 a stone sidewalk was added, and trees, presented by Brother J. Herbert Ballantine, were planted.
Brother Arthur N. Gibb, then secretary of the Chi Phi Chapter House Association, began a conscientious drive for funds, and in 1901 the first addition to the lodge was made. It consisted of the dining room, donated by Brother Ballantine in memory of his father. All of the necessary kitchen, pantries, and servants’ quarters were also included. Studies and bedrooms for an additional eight men were built on the second and third floors as well. By the completion of these additions, Xi had a total of 229 initiates.
The chapter continued to enjoy prosperity and good times during the first decade of the 20th century. Brothers such as Paul Baumgarten, Alfred Hutchinson, Frederick Krebs, and John Paul Jones appeared on the scene to carry on Xi’s traditions and maintain her prominence on the hill. Unfortunately, in May 1903 a disastrous fire struck Craigielea. The fire erupted in one of the front studies on the west side of the house and rapidly rose through the next two floors towards the roof. It completely gutted most of the rooms on the west side of the house. Fortunately the dining room, located on the southeast side of the house, was practically unhurt. The brothers of Xi quickly rallied to rebuild the lodge, and Craigielea was once again ready for occupancy on September 1, 1903.
As time continued to march on through the next decade, the chapter continued to expand and grow in stature at Cornell. President Schuman personally congratulated the Xi on their scholastic achievement in 1911.
The chapter prospered and continued to grow through the efforts of the active members in the first decade of the century. The chapter now contained an average of 30 to 35 men, and in 1914 the next addition began. The plans provided for an enlarged kitchen, an extension of the dining room, a new library, a committee room, four new studies, a suite for alumni on the second floor, and four additional bedrooms on the third floor. Brother William Torey Morris provided the interior finish for the library. Plumbing in the older part of the building was to be entirely replaced, the entire house was wired for lighting, and a new boiler was placed in the basement. Brother William Henry Miller designed the expansion, and by September 23, 1915, the new addition had been completed. In 1913 a new 24-inch globe light was installed in the living room. Through the efforts of Brother J.H. Ballantine ‘89, a fireproof tower was erected to alleviate the fire threat. Again, Brother W.H. Miller donated his time and talents to design this addition. At this time, a table was given to the house by the class of 1911, reading: As an expression of appreciation for the many good times spent at Xi, the home that for four years was so dear to us.
The history of Craigielea during the 1920’s became somewhat dim with the passage of time. Xi suffered a great loss with the passing of William Torey Morris in 1928, a man who for 55 years was always present and willing to help the brotherhood, which had meant so much to him. During the Depression years, the chapter was able to thrive and many improvements were made to Craigielea. A new flight of stairs was installed in the front entranceway, along with new pictures, new fixtures, lights, and a new floor. The chapter felt another great loss on January 4, 1937 with the passing of Robert H. Treman ’78. He was most active in Ithaca, and as an alumnus of Cornell, never failing to provide time to help the chapter he knew so well.
The years continued on into the 1940’s and the Second World War, which took many men away from the university. In 1942, compulsory military training was put into effect and, in the place of house parties, the brothers now designed a command course to “Take it off down there, and put it on up here”. Victory Week replaced the annual Junior Week, and before long the armed forces took over the campus as a training ground. In the summer of 1943, the effect of the war caused the chapter to close. On July 1, 1943 the Navy moved into Craigielea as a barracks, and much of her beautiful furnishings and equipment was stolen or sold by the university.
The brothers feared that the Xi might fold due to this break in the chain, but this was not the case. The few brothers remaining in Ithaca made sure the spirit of the Xi was kept alive in those brothers fighting for their country in Europe. A Xi headquarters was established at 526 Stewart Avenue, and the monthly Xi News Letter was published throughout the war. Several brothers gave their lives for their country during this war, and the plaques on the south wall of the library honor these fallen heroes.
On July 1, 1945, the brothers were allowed back into Craigielea. As could be expected, Craigielea suffered from the abuse of those who had stayed there. Again the Brothers rallied around the wounded lodge, and Fritz Krebs ’12 led fundraising of $10,000 to restore Craigielea. At this time there were only two Chi Phi’s left on the hill. The wartime newsletter was still being published monthly, but its mailing was limited to only 170 members. Much credit must be given to Arnold Page ’47 for maintaining Chi Phi at Cornell during the war. On March 6, 1946 Craigielea was reopened after a complete remodeling.
With the help of the alumni, the chapter began to get back on its feet. On October 12, 1945, the first initiation since December 1942 took place; two men were initiated. Craigielea was run at a loss during those years, but as long as the spirit of Xi kindled within her, it did not matter. By April 1947, the chapter had weathered the crisis, and was again an active participant on the hill.
Membership began to grow steadily in the 1950’s, and an addition was made Craigielea. In 1953 the “New Pentz” (New Penthouse) was constructed out of an attic storage area in order to provide housing for four more brothers. In 1951, the 148 rewired for the first time, and in 1958, the original plumbing was replaced. 1958 also saw a serious fire take place in a front basement storage area. Over $4,000 worth of damage was done to the storage area and living room.
In the 1970’s, Craigielea again saw serious renovations and changes. From 1970 to 1973, the Brotherhood worked to bring the aging lodge up to date and preserve it for the future. Particular amongst these renovations was the installation of an expensive and elaborate sprinkler system in 1972, required in order to meet fire codes. Money was, however, a limiting factor. To defray the costs of the extensive renovations that were required, the ownership of Craigielea was turned over to the University. Brother Edwin J. Fitzpatrick ’32 is credited for being a driving force behind these renovations. “It is a fact of life,” concluded Fitzpatrick, “that our much loved Craigielea, now well over 100 years old, will always require far more tender care than a similar cubage of steel and concrete that lacks the personality and spirit found within the walls of our lodge.”
Further renovations followed. In 1974 the kitchen, located in the basement, was renovated and a new range, refrigerator, garbage compressor, and dishwasher were installed. In 1975, the main boiler was replaced, and a backup power system was installed. In 1976, the retaining wall behind the parking lot was replaced, and in 1977, the old cellular stairway (now gone) was reinforced. 1978 saw the installation of permanent double-pane windows in the dining room, living room, and foyer.
In 1981, tragedy again struck Craigielea. A pipe burst on the third floor, ruining much of the Ballantine Dining Room and several bedrooms on the second floor. The dining room and bedrooms were quickly repaired through the efforts of the active members and alumni. Amazingly, the magnificent fireplace in the dining room was barely affected during the accident, and it stands as a reminder of the original dining room.
The 1990’s called for further renovation to Craigielea. In 1993, the kitchen, originally in the basement, was relocated to behind the dining room, where the pantry previously stood. The old spiral stairwell on the east side of the basement was sealed off, and a new stairwell to the basement was created near the library.
With so much empty space available following the kitchen renovation, the Brotherhood decided that a weight room should be established in the basement. Funds for the project were secured through the determination and generosity of Brother Edward Tam ’91. For his overall contribution to Craigielea, the Brotherhood has dedicated the Ed Tam Weight Room in his honor. The rest of the old kitchen site was turned into a bedroom.
In 2003, after more than a three year delay, a porch was built which enabled the house to once again meet the fire safety codes. Also in 2003, the foyer staircase, the TK Hallway, the main hallway, and the big head hallway were all re-carpeted. In the same year, the library floor was torn up and replaced with new hardwood floor to complement a luxurious new pool table, which was purchased after successful completion of the “Pool Table Initiative” by the Chapter House Association. The “Pool Table Initiative” was given by David Hibbert and involved cutting down on energy costs and developing a new standard for the condition in which Craigielea would be kept. Shortly thereafter, the brotherhood felt it was time to follow technology’s new advances and installed wireless internet access points throughout the house.
Excerpts From Xi History
1865: A bill to establish Cornell University was approved by the New York State Legislature, and signed by Governor Reuben E. Fenton on April 27. 1895.
1868: On October 8, 1868 Cornell received its first 421 students (of which 332 were freshmen), the largest entrance admitted to any college up to that time.Charles Fitch Hendryx ’69, a Chi Phi at the Upsilon Chapter at Hobart, was one of the 80 transfer students to enter Cornell that year. Five days after Cornell opened, on October 13, 1868, Hendryx founded the Xi Chapter with a membership of 15 men.
Zeta Psi was founded on the same evening; Kappa Alpha, Phi Kappa Psi, Alpha Delta Phi, Delta Upsilon and Chi Psi were all founded within the next 12 months. On the evening of the founding, a coin was tossed between Chi Phi and Zeta Psi to determine which house would go into the annals as the first chapter in Ithaca. Chi Phi lost the toss, and Zeta Psi was bestowed the title. However, according to Fritz Krebs ’12, who spoke to one of the original charter members, one night before the stated founding date, Xi’s pledges were initiated in an alley behind a hotel in downtown Ithaca. Thus, Chi Phi was actually the first fraternity at Cornell.
1881: Beginning in the middle of the ’70s, Cornell’s fortunes ebbed; hard times followed the historical panic of 1873; President White was absent from Cornell for nearly five years; and Cornell’s student enrollment dropped from 561 in 1876 to 399 in 1880. Xi’s chapter’s fortunes declined on a parallel course. Sorrowfully, the Xi alumni and undergraduates decided to relinquish the chapter’s charter until the organization could be restored to its original stature.
1888: For the fall term of 1887, W.F.D., Crane ’87, and J. Herbert Ballantine ’89 transferred from the Mu Chapter at Stevens Institute of Technology, and William B. Smith ’88 transferred from the Iota Chapter at Ohio State University. To the initiative of these three men was added the steadfast support of Xi’s Ithaca alumni, William H. Miller ’72, Eben M. Treman ’72, and Robert H. Treman ’78. As a consequence, Xi’s charter was restored on February 17, 1888.
1890: The need for permanent quarters was apparent. A generous gift of George A. Wardlow ’92 made possible the acquisition of the present site from Franklin C. Cornell, the son of Ezra Cornell.
Under the leadership of Arthur N. Gibb ’90, a successful effort to accumulate building funds was completed with subscriptions from many alumni and undereraduates, including a substantial gift from J. Herbert Ballantine ’89. William Henry Miller ‘72 drew plans for Craigielea as part of his contribution.
1891: The construction of Craigielea was complete. The lodge consisted of its two-story at hall, a library, and a reception room (music room). Studies and bedrooms for 12 men on the second and third floors.
1901: The gift of our handsome dining room, richly carved from the Black Forest of Bavaria, was the occasion for the first addition to Craigielea. It was given by J. H. Ballantine ’89 in memory of his father. The necessary pantries and kitchen space were also part of the gift. At the same time, studies and bedrooms for eight more men were built above the dining room on the second and third floors.
1903: On May 18th, a nearly disastrous fire did extensive damage to the west end of Craigielea. The flames spread from the balcony on upwards to the roof of the Old Pentz.
1914: Major additions to Craigielea took place in 1914. A new, larger library was donated by William Torrey Morris ’73. Again, William Henry Miller ’72 drew the plans that included enlarging the dining room and building studies and bedrooms for eight more men on the second and third floors. The alumni suite was also added, as well as the fire tower, and the house was wired for electricity.
1918: Officer-trainees of the Students’ Training Corps were quartered in Craigielea until the summer of 1919.
1929: When fire destroyed their lodge at the end of Junior Week, a large fraction of Alpha Delta Phi members lived in Craigielea during the spring term.
1943: Officer-trainees of the U.S. Navy’s V-12 program were quartered in the Lodge until the summer of 1945.
1953: The east end of Craigielea’s attic was finished into a bedroom, now called the New Pentz.
1958: A second, smaller fire threatened Craigielea. Beginning in the basement storage area, it spread upward to the living room, causing extensive damage.
1970: A massive three-year renovation project was begun, under the leadership of Brother Edwin J. Fitzpatrick ’32. Central to this renovation was the addition of a sprinkler system to meet fire codes. Craigielea was turned over to the University in order to cover these costs.
1977: In an effort to slow the rising energy costs, the active members of Xi with the aid of the alumni undertook a major insulation project. The project included installation of storm windows into every room and the addition of insulation above the Pentz areas and in the attic.
1981: A pipe burst on the third floor of Craigielea, ruining most of the Ballantine Dining and several brothers’ rooms. As a result, the alumni and brotherhood rallied to finish the dining room walls, ceiling, and floor, as well as repair the damaged rooms. The Clynes Hallway on the third floor was redecorated with redwood paneling, acoustic tile ceilings, and plush carpeting. Funds for this project were donated by Brother Talbot Kendall ’23. Plaques containing the names of Talbot Kendall’s contemporaries hang on the archways of each room.
1985: With Craigielea’s 100th birthday approaching, large-scale maintenance was undertaken over the summer. The exterior of the house was repainted. The medium and big heads were re-grouted, repainted, and refinished with new stalls, sinks and fans. The parking lot was finished, numerous railroad ties were laid around its perimeter and as steps, and the front of the house was re-landscaped.
1989: Craigielea underwent an extensive rewiring project. New fixtures were installed in every room, except for the dining room. Also, a third floor closet was renovated into a computer room in memory of Brother Leonard D. Biles ’81.
1993: The kitchen was relocated from the basement to its present location on the first floor. A new stairwell to the basement was constructed in the library hallway. The basement was renovated into a common room, kitchenette, and third bedroom.
1994: Weights and equipment were purchased, and the common room in the basement was converted into a weight room.
1995: Craigielea was completely refurnished. New carpets were laid down in the library, bar, great room, and music room and new sofas, chairs, cushions, and tables were purchased to furnish these rooms.
2003: A porch was built, allowing Craigielea to meet the most recent fire safety codes. New carpets were laid down in the TK Hallway, main hallway, big head hallway, and foyer staircase. A pool table was purchased and placed in the library, the floor of which was also renovated. Wireless internet access points were installed throughout the house.
2006: Renovations were done on the back of the house. A new roof was installed, the stucco on the back of the house was redone, and new windows were installed on the gorge side. The porch outside the Alpha and Delta Suites was also renovated.