Lambda Chi Alpha was founded on November 2, 1909 by Warren A. Cole at Boston University. Our personal chapter was founded in 1919, and our house was built in 1925. To date, we have initiated over 2000 members, and nationally we are one of the most successful and popular social fraternities.
Our chapter is lucky to have a incredible house with a rich history. Built in 1925, our house sits at 1210 E. 3rd street, and is one of the few actual on campus fraternities. We live in a four-story mansion located on one of the biggest lots on campus, and are afforded excellent location and the comfort of many benefits that come with it. Some of the benefits of living in our house include:
The organization of Independent as a literary society in the fall of 1885 was the natural result of a peculiar state of conditions at the University. At that time there were two literary organizations in existence, which were the center of all social and literary endeavors in university life. Every sort of student endeavor was signalized by various combinations of different fraternities in order to elect some favorite fraternity leader.
This state of affairs aroused the more aggressive spirits outside the existing fraternities and literary societies to an organized effort to secure their proportionate rights in College activities. With such men as David K. Goss, Joseph Shea, Robert J. Aley, and Charles Trent, the organization was sufficiently completed by the middle of November, 1885, that a petition was sent to the faculty for a hall in which to hold meetings, one evening each week and for recognition as a regular college literary society.
Independent then made a drive for members. The club grew rapidly and fought its way aggressively throughout the early months of its life. At the opening of the year 1886-1887, a meeting place was provided in the old college building and was fitted for the regular meetings of the society. It soon became the leading literary society of the institution. The feeling of the Greek letter societies became more cordial and few meetings passed when some Greeks were not present as visitors. The organization became very strong due to the very aggressive spirit of its new members. It had leaders in all phases of college life.
The expansion of the University added to the faculty specialists along literary lines. Definite courses were given to allow the opportunity for literary work such as Independent had encouraged. The members found unlimited avenues of service to the University in athletics, student organizations, departmental clubs, and the like, this brought about a new type of organization.
In the fall of 1904 a house was leased as a home of the organization. From this time until the charter into Lambda Chi Alpha was granted, the organization was maintained as a local club.
The fall of 1916 found the organization with sixteen members and all of them leaders in some branch of school activities. These sixteen men, namely: Merl M. Wall, Edward E. Huffman, Vilmer L. Tatlock, Adolph F. Thomas,
Raymond C. Duwelius, Paul Everman, Melvin B. Kelleher, Charles A. Morris, W. Harry Howard, Howard M. Lahr, Basil L. Walters, Bonnel Boring, Lanville H. Mengedoht, Martin J. Ness, Frank G. Reid, and Herbert L. Snyder, realized the worth and benefits accrued from membership in a national organization. A committee was appointed to investigate and consider the national Greek letter organizations in order that a petition might be presented.
It was decided to petition Lambda Chi Alpha. Why? Because of an admiration for the progressive spirit of brotherhood that existed in Lambda Chi Alpha. Feeling the strength of the national organization and in order to compete more successfully with other Greek fraternities, a formal petition was presented April 2, 1917 . On May 12, 1917 , the Independent Club became Alpha Omicron Zeta of Lambda Chi Alpha. On May 12, 1917 , the charter members named above and the following men were initiated: Lloyd D. Claycombe, Glen R. Hillis, Virgil R. Jenkins, Charles A. Wilson, Henry J. Schnitzius, and James A. Jones.
The fall of 1917 found only three of the charter members in school. Brothers Orvil L. Graves and Leslie Davis came to us from Xi and Alpha-Alpha Zetas respectively. Every active in school held an office in the fraternity at this time. During the year sixteen men were pledged and initiated.
On December 3, 1917 , Brother Howard, High Alpha, tendered his resignation and left for Texas . Brother Baumgartner was elected to fill his vacancy and served in this capacity for the remainder of the year. Brother Richardson was initiated and elected High Tau. Brother Davis left for the Army and Brother Lahr was elected to High Beta. This group of officers remained in school and at last we were settled again. Times were hard but the men held firmly and the year was made a most successful one in spite of the various difficulties.
There were but a few men in school due to the war and it was necessary for every man to do whatever he could in college activities. Brother Baumgartner as High Alpha pushed the men out and every man in the Zeta was engaged in some kind of college activity. Brother Baumgartner was made first president of the State Assembly.
The fall of 1918 found us in a crippled condition. We had nine actives back. That year the Government placed a Students Army Training Corps at our university and our house was turned into a barracks as was every other fraternity house on campus. We were permitted to keep our own men and several more were assigned to the barracks. With the other men living in the house it was impossible to work up any spirit around the house. We rented two rooms downtown and used them as club rooms and for our meetings. Due to Student Army Training Corps restrictions, we could not hold regular meetings. We held them whenever it was possible.
On March 17, 1919 , steps were taken toward incorporation. Brother Richardson was sent to Indianapolis to make the arrangements. On April 21, 1919 , the articles of incorporation were brought up and accepted.
On March 31, 1919 , Brother Snyder tendered his resignation as High Alpha and Brother Richardson was elected. Brother Mengedoht tendered his resignation at the same time and Brother Baumgartner was elected High Beta. Immediately after Brother Richardson's election to High Alpha he began to take steps towards admission to the Pan-Hellenic Council. He put forth much effort and after the petition was sent in, he spent much of his time trying to get it through. Admittance was not granted. The first petition was voted down. Two of the fraternities voted against us. The matter was dropped for the remainder of the year.
A house proposition came up at this time and stock was sold to the members and the alumni. Brother Richardson was made Secretary-Treasurer of the House Committee and Brother Tatlock was made President of the Association and still holds that office.
A petition was submitted to the Pan-Hellenic Council for consideration and on November 27, 1919 , we were granted admission. Brother Mumby was elected as our representative to Pan-Hellenic.
The fall of 1920 found us in better shape than ever before. We had twenty-five actives back. Note: The tradition of Lambda Chi Alpha at Indiana University extends for nearly 85 years beyond the end of this excerpt. The purpose of this excerpt is merely to chronicle the early events in our existence as a chapter.
In the years since the early days of the Chapter, Alpha Omicron has grown by leaps and bounds. On April 12th, 1922, the Alpha Omicron Association purchased lot number 87 from the Delta Upsilon Alumni Association, and plans were drawn up for the construction of a new chapter house. The original plans called for a house 86 feet wide and 66 feet deep, with a large curving driveway in front that was to reach all the way to the front porch.
In 1925, the dreams of the brothers and alumni of the Alpha Omicron Zeta were realized when the construction of the chapter house at 1210 E. 3rd St. was finished and the first residents moved in. Although the house was not quite what the original blueprints had predicted (notable casualties were the curving driveway and a number of stone fixtures on the peaks), the chapter house was and still is one of the most distinctive structures on campus. Notable features include the massive front yard, which is still the largest on campus, individual rooms rather than "cold dorms", bathrooms on every floor including a dedicated women's bathroom, individual showers, and a number of other features as well.
Since then, Alpha Omicron has prospered, becoming one of the largest and longest continuously running chapters of Lambda Chi Alpha in the nation. A new wing was added to the chapter house in the mid-80's, with extensive renovations done in the late 90's. In 2003, the technology situation at the chapter house was reassessed, and funding was approved to have a wireless internet network installed. We currently have an agreement with IU that allows us to have the same quality of service as in the dorms, with much more convenience.
Truly the greatest testament to the history of the Alpha Omicron Zeta of Lambda Chi Alpha is the diversity and strength of its membership. With almost 2000 alumni around the country, Alpha Omicron is one of the largest chapters, and one of the longest lived. Today, only 25 active chapters are older than AO, the 36th chapter of Lambda Chi Alpha.