Dean R. L. Sackett, Dean of the Pennsylvania State College School of Engineering, and an honorary member of the Purdue Chapter of Triangle Fraternity, had long felt the need for such a fraternal organization as Triangle at Penn State, realizing too, that it would have a definite place among the many fraternities already established here.
Accordingly, on September 20, 1926, Dean Sackett, after correspondence with the national officers of Triangle for over a year, sent a letter to each of a select group of men from the class of 1928, then juniors, and explained his idea to them. At that time, Mr. F. M. Pyle was elected temporary president of the organization formed, and Mr. N. I. Huntley, Jr., was elected secretary. This organization was named Sigma Epsilon, and ultimately became the Penn State Chapter of Triangle Fraternity.
Permission was granted to the new club to meet in one of the classrooms of Engineering “C”, and from a list of suitable men, various ones were selected and sent invitations to attend “a meeting of an Engineering Fraternity” at the meeting room. At the time the club was expanded to include several more members.
Late in 1926 sufficient men petitioned for a charter for the fraternity, and in January the College granted a charter to Sigma Epsilon and a local professional engineering fraternity. The local organization began with seventeen members, the charter members being the following:
Richard M. Garth 1928
Norman L. Huntly, Jr. 1928
Joseph A. Ghivizani 1928
Robert D. Keen 1928
Uriah M. Heiple 1928
Donald E. Thomas 1929
Sigma Epsilon’s first house, located at 440 W. Foster Street, was moved into during March, 1927. The house accommodated 24 men, and the meals were served by a local caterer.
In March, 1927, a request for permission to present a petition was submitted to the nation council of Triangle Fraternity, and permission was granted. A petition was drawn up and submitted late in the same month. Sigma Epsilon was then asked to send a delegate to the 18th annual convention of Triangle, to be held in Chicago in April, 1927. Mr. A. W. King represented Sigma Epsilon, and gave a short talk in behalf of their petition. A vote was taken at the convention and a charter was granted to Sigma Epsilon, which was to be installed before the next annual convention.
Meanwhile, the brothers of Sigma Epsilon had found their present house not entirely satisfactory. Accordingly, new and better quarters were sought, and in the fall of 1927 the chapter was moved to a house at 125 S. Miles Street. Sigma Epsilon was officially installed as the Penn State Chapter of Triangle Fraternity, by members of the national council, at the chapter house, on March 3, 1928. The Charter presented at that time bears the names of R. A. Stoesser as National President, and C. A. Wiepking as National Secretary. Thirty active, one associate, and two honorary members were initiated at this time.
In 1932, again feeling the need for a larger more satisfactory house, the members of the Penn State Chapter sought new quarters. Arrangements were made to rent a house from Phi Kappa Sigma, and in September of that year the move was made to the “Old English” style house at 224. E. Beaver Ave. In March, 1946, this house was purchased from Phi Kappa Sigma. Two new chairs and two new davenports were purchased for the living room in December, 1941.
The advent of World War II brought on many difficulties for the chapter. In the spring of 1942 an accelerated program was put into effect at Penn State, which divided the year into three semesters and eliminated practically all vacations. This increased the coming and going of male students and made acquisition of new pledges almost impossible. Soon the chapter was forced to take in roomers to keep the house operating, and in June 1943, found it necessary to close the dining room. At this time there were ten members of Triangle and nine roomers living in the house.
During the period from June, 1944, to March, 1945, only three members of Triangle were on hand to operate the house, and it was largely due to them that the Penn State Chapter was not discontinued completely. These three men were: H. A. Mendt, R. V. Stauble, and J. J. Perry.
In March, 1945, the first Triangle veterans returned to the campus, and from that time the membership slowly built up until in March, 1946, enough men were living in the house to warrant the reopening of the dining room. Approximately 65 members of Penn State Chapter of Triangle served in World War II, including four who were killed in action. These were:
Ronald D. Eowman PS 42 ME 2nd LT AAF
George C. Munroe PS 43 Geol 2nd LT AAF
Maurice M. Smith PS 40 IE Pvt Inf
Charles O. Yagel PS 40 ME 1st Lt AAF
After the war the membership of Penn State Chapter began looking forward to a new chapter house. With building costs inflated, the new house idea was discarded in favor of complete remodeling of the existing structure. A building committee, early in 1949, contracted with an architect to submit plans for the reconstruction. Work was started in June, 1949, and most of it was finished by October of that year.
In addition to major structural repairs, the remodeling included the modernization of the kitchen and the addition of a cook’s quarters. The two floors above the kitchen were converted into two dormitories with a capacity for 32 men. The rear stairs were rebuilt into a fire-safe exit for the dorms. On the second and third floors were placed new bathrooms and the study rooms were plastered again and redecorated. The new entrance was made at ground level into a recreation room.
Not to mention scholarship would be a mistake. Triangle Fraternity stands for high scholarship, and it has always been outstanding in this respect, at Penn State, and at the other schools where chapters are located. The local chapter, as Sigma Epsilon, was twice awarded the Intramural Scholarship Cup, and since installation into Triangle, the chapter has received the cup often. It is with pride that we say this is an enviable record; one which the chapter should make every effort to maintain.
During the 1960’s, with the mortgage paid off, the active chapter began to funnel excess money into a building construction fund. The Old English style chapter home badly needed repairs and modernization, and it was determined that a new, larger house would be a wise decision. However, property was difficult to find close to campus, and it was decided that the new chapter home would be built on the site of the old house.
So, after spring term 1974, the active chapter took up temporary residence at 315 S. Allen street, and two adjacent annexes. This house was formerly occupied by Omega Psi Phi, and to the new occupants it lived up to its nickname: “The Ghetto”. Massive doses of Pine Sol and muscle made the house almost inhabitable.
Meanwhile, during the summer of 1974, the old house was demolished, and the new house, designed by alumnus A. Robert Brooks, was under construction. The active chapter contributed over 3500 man-hours by doing all the interior painting, staining, and varnishing, saving a considerable amount of money. The Fall ’74 pledge class stained the entire exterior of the house, and the Spring ’75 class furnished the poolroom and refinished the pool table as their pledge project.
Finally, after one full year, the active chapter moved into the new home. The fraternity had grown from 23 to 48 men, and the constitution and the pledge program were completely revised to handle the larger number of men required to run the house. The fraternity property had grown in value from $12,500 in 1946 to almost a half million in 1975.
Since the chapter moved into the new house, other pledge classes have also made significant contributions with their pledge projects.