Founders Room Ready for Use in Elliott Hall


There was virtually no new building on American campuses until the Public Works Administration, headed by Harold L. Ickes, Chicago 1897, began constructing roads, buildings, and other facilities. One of its 34,000 public projects came to Miami University. In 1936, Miami University rebuilt the century-old North Hall under a federal grant with matching funds from the university. The original brick walls remained, but the interior was hollowed. Down came the old chimneys and fireplaces, and the battered old halls and stairways went out. The new building, still redolent of the past, was ready for use in 1937. Renamed Elliott Hall, it combined tradition with comfort. Pillared porticos graced the entrances, and steel and concrete replaced the old wood construction. An invitingly furnished paneled lounge room occupied the first floor’s south end.

By an act of the university trustees, the Founders’ Room, a front room on the second floor, was restored to its original dimensions and assigned to Phi Delta Theta. The Fraternity furnished it in appropriate character, with portraits of the founders on the walls. Under the custody of Ohio Alpha, it was decided that a chapter leader should live there.

The first Phi so honored was Robert Louis Heald, Miami ’39, when he moved in. Phi Delta Theta had returned to the room where it began. Wrote Ralph McGinnis, Miami ’19: “The tablet in the outer wall marking the birthplace of Phi Delta Theta has not been disturbed. The aroma of historic events fills the bright hallways and cheerful rooms of the renewed building.” But, for all Phis, the most memorable event was the meeting there of six young men on the night after Christmas 1848.