From the very first of its existence in 1896, Omicron Chapter has maintained a Chapter House. The first house (1896 - 1901) at 301 Marshall Street was leased from Dr. & Mrs. Robert H. Pierson. Dr. Pierson was a professor in the SU medical college. The second house (1901 - 1905) was at 303 Waverly Avenue and was leased from Dr. Wellesley Perry Coddington, a noted professor in the College of Arts & Sciences. Dr. Coddington and his wife were instrumental in assisting many of the women’s fraternities at Syracuse University.
Chapter House at 301 Waverly Avenue
The third house (1905 - 1912) was at 301 Waverly Avenue and was leased from another noted University professor, Dr. Franklin James Holzworth, whose wife had been an honor initiate at the founding of the Chapter and whose daughter was the Chapter President in 1904. It was described by the local newspaper as "wiithin two blocks of the University and situated on elevated ground overlooking Walnut Park. It was a large house of twelve rooms thoroughly modern in every way and a delightful home for resident and non-resident members."
The house had previously been home to professors whose families did not reside in Syracuse.
Chapter House at 700 University Avenue
On July 7, 1909, the Omicron alumnae filed Articles of Incorporation with the State of New York under the name of the Syracuse Association of Delta Delta Delta (name changed in 1957 to the Omicron House Corporation of Delta Delta Delta). The purpose of the group was to raise funds for the purchase and operation of a Chapter House. In 1913, the house corporation bought a Chapter House located at 700 University Avenue near the SU Campus. The facility was able to house 20 women, and a house mother, with a kitchen, dining room and several sitting rooms on the first floor and bedrooms on the upper floors. The home was said to be in excellent condition and was better situated for conducting the social activities of the Chapter. The Chapter records of the time are quite complimentary of their new home.
Chapter House at 300 Walnut Place
As the Chapter continued to grow, the need for a new home was once more apparent. In 1922, Omicron House Corporation bought the current chapter house at 300 Walnut Place. The local newspaper described the event as follows, "Tri Delta, one of the oldest women’s Greek letter societies on the Hill, has bought the residence of the Howard P. Denison’s, 300 Walnut Place. Outgrowing the present Chapter House, 700 University Avenue, the Syracuse Chapter will soon have possession of one of the finest properties of the University Section. It is the most desirable one in the entire university section, quite spacious & large enough to be most comfortable. On the 3rd floor, there is a gymnasium and billiard room which is soon to be converted into a Chapter Room and dormitory. The 2nd floor boasts of 9 large bedrooms. On the 1st floor, there is a music room, living room, library, dining room and kitchen. Omicron hopes to open the house with a banquet at Commencement time in June."
The Chapter House was designed and built for the Denison family by renowned local architect Archimedes Russell who also designed and built Crouse College, The SU Administration Building and many of the permanent signature structures in Syracuse. From 1873 to 1881 Archimedes Russell served as a professor of architecture at SU and in 1906 took Melvin L. King as his partner and his architectural firm was renamed Russell and King. The firm still survives today as the firm of King & King. Omicron Chapter felt privileged to obtain the structure and has impeccably maintained it through to the current time.
In the summer of 1939, the exterior of the Chapter House was remodeled. The work was carried out under the supervision of local distinguished builder, Carl Skeele, (whose young daughter later became a Tri Delta, Helen "Toodie" Skeele Harrison,Omicron ‘54) and the local architectural office of Sweeny-Burden, who developed a preliminary design conceived by the late Dwight J. Maum. Mr. Burden, husband of Sara Graham Burden, Omicron ‘26, describes the completed design as Greek revival with Georgian Details. Six new Greek Doric columns of redwood were erected. On each side of the entrance were erected full length windows conforming to the design of the entrance proper. Glass from windows of the existing structure was subdivided to produce proper scale in design and colonial shutters were added to all openings.
Mr. Carl Skeele maintained the Chapter house for 50 years until his death in the late 1990’s. Over the years, many improvements have been made to the Chapter House including building bedrooms on the third floor, remodeling the bedrooms and bathrooms on the second floor ; enclosing the back porch and building a sun porch, renovating the kitchen, and building a new Chapter Room, "The Pine Room." In recent years, a computer room, and new laundry room were added on the lower level. All of these changes were carried out under the watchful eye of Mr. Skeele.
We are particularly grateful to Dorthea Ilgen Shaffer, Omicron ‘30, for making possible the renovation of all the bathrooms in the Chapter House. Dorthea also built the Shaffer Art Center for the University.
Although the chapter house has changed over the course of the years, the soul of the House remains as a place for the bond of friendship to grow stronger with all our past, present and future Tri Delta sisters.