by Shayla Funk ’18 and Makenzi Hughes ’18
At the corner of Sylvan Boulevard and Grove Street sits a little blue house filled with history. Built in 1892 and lived in as a family home for many years, the house was purchased by the University in 1965 and around a decade later became home to the Alpha Theta Phi sorority.
Fast-forward 40 years, and maintaining this historic house—the oldest structure on the University campus—had become a high priority to the active members of Alpha Theta Phi. Members of the sorority began to fundraise for the “Backyard Project” in October of 2015.
The work was a collaborative effort with the University, current Theta actives and their advisors, alumnae and a private contractor, Miller Construction, with final plans completed in late March 2016. The contractors did a wonderful job ensuring completion before Commencement so that Theta seniors could invite their families to the house for our annual graduation photos.
Many people remember the backyard as bare, aside from a few oak and orange trees. The members of Theta wanted to change that. They imagined a backyard that represented the growth and success of the sorority and illustrated the qualities of character, companionship
With this in mind, they envisioned a brick pathway as the backyard’s main feature, expanding into a tree-like shape. The tree was designed to honor the founders of the sorority, with their names engraved on the bricks. As the tree expands, so do the number of sisters.
Alumnae and active Theta members who donated to the Theta House Fund were able to engrave a brick—brick size denoting a specific amount—with Theta pledge class names as well as names of members’ sisters who had touched their lives or they wished to memorialize. Surrounding the bricks are the oak trees that Theta preserved, newly potted plants and energy efficient lights that illuminate the yard.
Alpha Theta Phi is proud to have raised funds and brought new life to a yard that celebrates the past, the present and the future.
Theta sisters will be able to enjoy the backyard for years to come during on-campus events like rush and Greek social gatherings. Alumnae will also share in the beauty of the project for such events as Theta’s annual Songfest and Homecoming activities. “We really turned to the many generations of Thetas that came before us to help turn our dream into a reality,” said Melanie Moreno, Theta’s spring 2016 president. “The support we received was beyond our expectations and we are so grateful for the positive feedback we received along the way.”
With Homecoming around the corner, Alpha Theta Phi offers a warm welcome to Theta sisters who would like to witness the official unveiling and donate to engrave their own brick. This year’s annual Alpha Theta Phi Homecoming Luncheon will be held in the backyard on Saturday, Oct. 22, at noon. Any alumni interested in visiting the house and backyard may do so between 9 and 10 a.m. on that day.
Visit our website at alphathetaphi.com for updates and additional information on the lunch and for brick engraving information (all proceeds from brick sales will support the Theta House Fund). We are a University house, we are a Greek house, and all are invited to share “our” house during Homecoming Weekend.
About the authors: Shayla Funk ’18 is the Alumnae Relations Chair, Greek Council Representative, and Fundraising Chair for Alpha Theta Phi this semester. Makenzi Hughes ’18 is studying abroad this fall in Barcelona, Spain.