Psi Upsilon

Now: Beuth Minerva House
Psi Upsilon
Psi Upsilon House, circa 1910
Union College Elizabeth Taylor Postcard Collection

Home to the Psi Upsilon Society, this building was the first fraternity house to be constructed on the Union College campus. Psi Upsilon was the fourth national fraternity founded at Union, started by a group of sophomores and freshmen in 1833. The society petitioned the trustees for a building site in 1884, originally planning to build at the foot of the Union Street hill. Construction in the final location did not begin until 1890 and lasted until 1892, immediately prior to which the society had meeting rooms on State Street.

Mrs. Perkins often mentioned Psi Upsilon in her letters, relating news of new members and events such as dances and “smokers.” After attending one afternoon tea at the house, Mrs. Perkins wrote, “It is a comfortable homey sort of a house and the piazza is fine” (June 27, 1899). In 1901, Professor Perkins and Jack had dinner with the Psi Upsilons, which Mrs. Perkins thought was an excellent way to establish closer bonds between students and professors. A year later a fire, likely started by an electric wire, broke out at the Psi Upsilon house, and Mrs. Perkins reported the event in great detail. The firemen had trouble putting it out, because the two hydrants by the house were frozen and a hose had to be carried up Union Street. “The Eastern part is pretty well burned up, and the inside of the house ruined I fear. What with water and smoke, everything is black or drenched” (February [?], 1902). The homeless students were taken in by other fraternities, and the belongings they managed to save by throwing them out the windows were temporarily stored in the YMCA building. It is unclear how long it took before repairs were completed, but fraternity activities continued, and Mrs. Perkins wrote in 1904 that a skating rink was ploughed out near the Psi Upsilon house because of the convenient low ground there.

In 1916, extensive renovations were made to the interior, and the house was put to use as quarters for officers during World War I. The original structure was razed in 1937, and a new one, which better matched Joseph Jacques Ramée’s designs for campus buildings, was constructed on the same site. In 2004, the second Psi Upsilon house was renovated and reopened as Beuth House, one of the seven Minerva Houses on campus.