Sigma Phi Place, early 1900s
Sigma Phi Place, circa 1909
Sigma Phi Place was completed in 1905 and became the longtime home of the Sigma Phi Society, the second national fraternity founded at Union. Because the Society already owned a chapter house off-campus, they were not in a hurry to build another one inside the College gates; however, after a $40,000 bequest in the late nineteenth century, they began planning its construction.
The Perkins family had a warm relationship with Sigma Phi, and at least once Rose Perkins danced all night at a Society banquet. Mrs. Perkins admired the fraternity’s loyalty to the College, and in 1899, asked her son Roger to speak to a possible donor about the construction of the new chapter house. However, the decision to build it just inside the Payne Gate along Library Lane upset Mrs. Perkins; earlier, the Society had thought of locating their new home on the northern side of campus near the Perkins’ beloved Kappa Alpha House, and Mrs. Perkins thought another house along Library Lane would ruin the view. Her friend Mrs. Ashmore, who lived along the Lane, also had no desire to live between two fraternity houses (the Alpha Delta Phi House having just been completed on the other side of her home in 1898).
Sigma Phi was evidently a very loyal Society. After the death of Professor of Natural Philosophy John Foster, one of their own, Mrs. Perkins reported that the Sigma Phi’s led the group of students helping out at the funeral and stayed up all night in the College chapel with the body. When Professor Perkins died, Mrs. Perkins received a kind letter from them and wrote, “I did not expect such a thing, but Maurice was such a kind friend to the Societies, that it was very appropriate” (October 11, 1901).
In 1927, Sigma Phi made additions to the house, and they stayed there until 2005, when the building was renovated and became one of the College’s seven Minerva houses, now known as Breazzano House.