A Brief History of the Physical Plant

Fred Parker Emery, a Professor of Rhetoric and Oratory at the College, purchased a vacant lot at 13 Webster Avenue on May 5, 1896. Emery built the house, which his widow would occupy until the late 1940s. In 1957, the College took ownership of the building, and leased it to the newly reestablished Phi Nu chapter of Alpha Chi Rho, which had just split off from Gamma Delta Chi. The brothers of Alpha Chi Rho moved into the current plant in the fall of 1958, and the first President was Tim Ryerson. Ryerson, a transformative leader for the house, was killed in a car crash during the spring of 1959, and the Brother’s Only room on the first floor was renamed in his honor shortly afterward. When Alpha Chi Rho localized to become Alpha Chi Alpha in 1963, the brotherhood added an additional level of bedrooms to house brothers and weekend visitors. The brotherhood also adopted the Emery family motto ‘Fidelis et Suavis’ as the motto for the newly established brotherhood.

The next major construction occurred about 15 years later. In 1978, then-President Bob Ceplikas, Dartmouth’s current Deputy Athletics Director, designed and organized the building of the third floor of the house. The house underwent major renovations again in 1985 and 2004. In 2004, the renovations involved demolishing a structure attached to the house known as “the Barn,” which was attached to the house through a concrete hallway. As a result of the barn’s razing, the house attained a larger basement and a new front room, which have become the house’s primary social spaces in the absence of the Barn. In 2014, the construction of a new sorority led to a decrease in the size of the house’s backyard, resulting in the relocation of the volleyball court and the construction of a new deck by the backyard. Otherwise, major renovations have not taken place since 2004, but the brotherhood is constantly coming up with new ways to improve and innovate upon the physical plant. Most of these projects take place on the termly “house day.” Most recently, brothers built a new, bigger bar in a more prominent location of the basement, repainted the front room, and redesigned the Ryerson to be a more comfortable and appealing space for brothers to socialize.