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Davis, California

Monday, June 17, 2024

Phi Delta Theta house demolished

If anyone has passed by 336 C St. — across from the Farmers Market —  recently, they would notice that a vast, empty lot has replaced the Phi Delta Theta house.

The project began on Sept. 17 when the asbestos was removed from the house’s exterior. The actual demolition of the house took place Sept. 24.

Though the building went down relatively easily, the cleaning up of the space took another 10 days.
Jeff Marschner, the historian and construction chair of Phi Delta Theta, detailed the building’s storied history via an email interview.
“The north side of the former structure was once the Davis Presbyterian Church, located at Fourth and F Streets. It was built in 1870,” Marschner said. “In about 1912, the church outgrew the building, so they sold this structure, which was then moved to Fourth and C, where it was remodeled into a student boarding house. Within a year, it became the home of the local Calpha Fraternity (California Agricultural Fraternity).”
The residence would then go on to house an Army Signal Corps group during WWII, and would be reclaimed by Calpha after the war in 1955. The Calpha Fraternity would subsequently become the Epsilon Chapter of Phi Delta Theta.
In 2002, the Phi Delta Theta chapter in Davis disbanded, and the house was left in the custody of the Phi Delta Alumni group. It had originally been slated to be remodeled, but initial inspections showed that the entire building would need to be revamped from the ground up.
“The final decision: just too cost prohibitive,” Marschner said. “An alumni survey found no support for the rehab project.”

In 2010, the Phi Delta Theta chapter was recolonized, and it seems that the legacy of the building may continue to live on.

Tim Zeff, the Alumni Board treasurer, said that remodeling the house would have cost roughly the same as tearing it down, since the entire foundation needed to be reworked regardless. If they were to renovate the old house, they would have to lift it off the foundation and place it back on top once the foundation work was completed.

“The structure was antiquated and in need of modernization to fit in with the needs of today’s students,” Zeff said. “Though the new house will be smaller in terms of square footage, it will still hold the same number of people.”

There are plans in the works for a new building, slated to be opened by September 2013. This building will house 19 beds in single and double configuration, with a dining and living room that will be estimated to accommodate 75 people.

Max Tipp, vice president of the Phi Delta Theta Epsilon chapter and a senior international relations major, shared his thoughts on the upcoming housing project.

“We’re really looking forward to the new and improved real estate on the block and are very grateful to our alumni for making all of this happen,” Tipp said. “They truly are wonderful men and I, for one, feel extremely obliged to be a part of this organization.”

ANDREW POH can be reached at city@theaggie.org.


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