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Home >> Background


Many times over the years since the house was moved, Phi Psi alumni leaders have considered what to do with the aging Old Grey Barn. Each time they made the decision to maintain ownership and responsibility for the Phi Psi house. For decades, the pride and autonomy of chapter owned housing, as opposed to college owned housing, outweighed the burden that maintaining the house had often become. The current house corporation, led by fundraising committee co-chairs Doug Fish '98 and Jeff Gingerich '95 and officers Alex LaRoche '95, John Pierce '78, Wes Crouse '78 and Chris Therkorn '99; (along with the ever present counsel of Jay Geiger '59, Bob McCabe '65, Bob Leciston '60 and Bill Turner '67), rededicated themselves to establishing a long-term plan to restore the Old Grey Barn.

The house corporation began to raise money (primarily amongst themselves) and some much needed repairs were done to the house. A new smoke and alarm system was installed, as was a new roof. The house was painted and a computer lab was outfitted with new computer equipment. In total $159,000 has been spent in the past 5-6 years. While these band-aids were much needed, the board decided that it was time for the Old Grey Barn to receive a complete overhaul from top to bottom.


Simultaneous to the alumni board's progress, the Penn Theta chapter continued to thrive. More and more alumni upon returning to campus have been impressed with the leadership of the chapter. Penn Theta brothers have routinely participated in the national organization's innovative leadership programs and conferences. The chapter hosted leadership seminars including several where prominent alumni spoke at the Old Grey Barn. Alumni who had not previously been involved began coming back in large measure to interact with undergraduate men who they were proud to call brother. The brothers embraced the alumni involvement and have participated in mature discussions with alumni about the long-term future of Penn Theta.

Early this year, a nucleus of alumni brothers established a Building Committee and a Capital Campaign Committee to support the house corporation board of directors in this project. This was in part stimulated by Lafayette College's requirement that on-campus residential units include fire sprinkler systems by Fall 2006. A feasibility study was performed by CRG, LLC to assess the potential and gauge the interest of our alumni base. The response to that feasibility study was extremely positive. Therefore, we are enthusiastically moving forward with an effort to completely renovate the "Old Grey Barn" by the spring of 2007 including the addition of the beautiful front porches. We have made arrangements with the College to house the brotherhood in Rubin Hall for the 2006-2007 school year while we renovate the house.

When I visited "the old grey barn" and the current Phi Psi brothers last spring, I experienced firsthand that some of my built-in biases were all wrong. I was incredibly impressed by their positive attitudes, level of interest, maturity, and willingness to help with both the building/capital campaigns.

- Jim Akerhielm '83
1980s Co-Chairman
The Campaign for the Old Grey Barn
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