Monday, July 19, 2010

Old Haunts

When I as a freshman in college, I lived on a pretty rowdy dorm floor. The night before I left home to go to university, I watched the movie Animal House. It was proper training for dorm life. I really wasn’t into the out-of-control scene, so I was up for something a little more tame, like joining a fraternity…for some peace and quiet.

At the end of the freshman year, I was approached by a group of guys from another dorm to join a fraternity. But this wasn’t the usual scenario where you got stupidly drunk and slapped with paddles in your underwear. No, this was different. They were recruiting men who were willing to re-colonize a house that was shut down two years earlier and was basically destroyed. We were in effect a bunch of guys joining a fraternity that normally wouldn’t join a fraternity. The challenge was not only to form up a group but to literally put sweat equity into a house that was vandalized. Sheetrock, glass, paint, woodwork, cleaning, scraping, carpet, the whole nine yards.

I loved this house and lived in it from in my sophomore and junior years. I was the Steward at that time. I was responsible for the running of the kitchen. I ordered all of the food, planned menus, kept the budget and kept 25 guys fat and happy.

After six months of having difficulty retaining a cook, two other brothers and I decided we would rotate the cooking duties. Yes my friends, I cooked for 25 guys.

Keeping a fraternity out of trouble is not easy and quite frankly the heyday of fraternities was over in the 60s. Most young men today do not have a concept of keeping a group functioning beyond their own immediate needs and therefore, once again, somewhere down the line, my fraternity closed doors.

But here stands this beautiful building now owned by a private college in town. They owned the building on the left and the building on the right. In a way I am pleased that since the fraternity lost hold that the college was able to purchase it. (Quite frankly, we were a big pain in their ass so justice was served.)

©2010 ShootingMyUniverse

I’m happy to say that they have retained the historical green color. As far as I could tell from the paint layers that I saw when I was working on it, the house had always been green. They have repointed the stonework in the back, put in some out buildings and added a new, paved parking lot. There was an UGLY fire escape from the two top floor windows on the right that has been removed.

My room was on the second floor which which included the second floor of the turret and a fireplace serviced by the chimney. They have rehabbed the gazebo except there were circular benches that one could sit on. Every room in that house holds a memory for me. ©2010 ShootingMyUniverse

Looking at the detail, they have done a great job. I did notice that the stained glass window treatments are gone. One thing that I really cannot believe is that there was a red stone hitching post in the front yard that is no longer there. This is a great shame because I have seen pictures of the street and every mansion had a hitching post in the front yard. Our house had one of the few remaining hitching posts.

©2010 ShootingMyUniverseWhat a great old building. The window layout, as funky as it looks, is pretty much the way the house was built. As a physics student, I looked for symmetry in life. This house was everything but symmetrical. But a fraternity full of men that normally wouldn’t join a fraternity is bound to be asymmetrical.

Did you notice how the sky changes color in the pictures above?


Eve said...

That is a beautiful house Steve and really a warm color. I'm glad it has been preserved!

Eve said...

Oh thanks for the great lesson on blue skies!

Valerie @ Composition-Life said...

Fun to read thru your thoughts and memories of the House.

I was a mommas girl as so stayed home and commuted to the local university for my college studies. Of course I was blessed to be the mom of 3 boys - who will hopefully make it to college at some point - and I am still worried about the crazy college days (my boys are just the opposite of me - the one who always goes by the book and follows the rules)

I loved the video clip at the end. It is tips like that - that help those of us who are striving to be better photographers - but don't have the luxury or time to take a class.

There is a new blog that focuses on each participant creating a blog post around a favorite photo of the week - and then sharing details (as many or as few as you would like) about your camera and lens, settings, thoughts behind the shot - to help those who visit learn more about taking pictures. You certainly would be an asset to the rest of us.

The site is at: if you'd care to drop by.

Valerie @ Composition-LIfe

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

Now that is such a novel and wonderful idea Steve and I am glad you restored it as this is a fantastic old house.

Cooking for 25? Hmmm!! Not my idea of a fun time. :)

ksdoolittle said...

Steve, I enjoyed reading through your memories, I loved looking at the pictures of that big, old, beautiful house, and I appreciated the effort you made to share your photography tip!! Well done! ~karen

Anonymous said...

Great story Steve about your former days. Good lesson about the sky as well. Thanks.

Carol Mattingly said...

Lovely old house. I wished I had done the sorority thing but I lived at home when I went to college. Thanks so much though for telling this story. I love to hear all about my blog friends lives. Carol

Jay Albert said...

You can go back! I take it you didn't get a chance to look inside.....I bet you were dying to see inside! That house now must go for a pretty penny.

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