November 20, 2013: Oxford, Ohio—Beta Xi chapter at Georgia, along with its Housing Corporation, recently completed the renovation, expansion and occupancy of its new chapter house at 558 West Broad St. in downtown Athens, Ga. The two-story, 8,800-square-foot brick Georgian architecture facility, was originally constructed in 1986 as a Steak n’ Ale, and sits on an acre of land immediately outside of the campus and at the western edge of downtown.
After an October 2011 re-chartering, Beta Xi had rented property from Chi Psi Fraternity along the traditional fraternity/sorority row at Georgia. Athens city and zoning officials had limited additional greek housing in that heavily residential district and the new chapter of nearly 70 had to quickly make other arrangements when Chi Psi decided to re-colonize and utilize its own property.
John Walters, Georgia ’80, and Kirk Smith, Georgia ’80, along with other Housing Corporation officers moved quickly to size up alternate properties. Past National President Bill Crane, Georgia ’80, suggested meeting with local elected officials to seek their guidance and counsel on options that the city could/would support. The Athens mayor and two County Commission members suggested the restaurant site, at that point vacant and abandoned for nearly five years.
Crane and Smith came up with the idea of building on top of the restaurant structure, and utilizing much of the existing restaurant facility for meeting space, a property manager’s apartment, full-service restaurant kitchen for the meal plan and special events and a large gaming/recreational room. The project was entirely privately financed and completed with a modest mortgage of roughly $750,000.
“The fact that we already have our own house is a testament to the dedication of our Housing Corporation and alumni to Beta Xi,” said Chapter President Danny Hardgrove, Georgia ’11. “The amount of time, effort, and money donated to make the project possible is staggering. We are also very fortunate that the city of Athens is convinced of our merits and granted us all the permits required to build a new fraternity house where other greek organizations have struggled.”
The property can house up to 30 men and includes the following additional amenities:
- Hard wire and wireless high speed internet access in every room
- TV lounge with a 70-inch flat screen
- Louis Gaby Board Room and study hall with drop down screen & presentation equipment
- Full-service restaurant kitchen
- Laundry room
- Six showers
- Full ladies guest bath upstairs
- Private apartment and restroom facilities for live-in adult property manager
- Downstairs restroom facilities
- Bunk room, which sleeps six for visiting chapter delegations
- Two-story balcony & porch
- Twin roll-up garage doors for instant access and outside expansion for special events
- 62 parking spaces, including ADA compliant handicapped parking and a special event parking concession
- 100-square-foot storage barn out-building with storage loft
“I have constantly heard that we have one of the nicest fraternity houses on campus,” Hardgrove said. “People rave about our balcony, TV lounge, conference room and bunk room. The location is also one of the best and most unique in Athens for a fraternity house.”
To celebrate, the chapter held a grand opening and a formal dedication ceremony on Oct. 26. Nearly 300 guests were in attendance, including National President Stephan Nelson, Southern Mississippi ’73, and undergraduate and alumni representatives from more than 10 Phi Kappa Tau chapters.
“The house dedication was the culmination of years of work by everyone involved,” Hardgrove said. “I was very fortunate that it came about during my presidency. The experience of leading the chapter during this past year of transitions is something I will never forget. However, the best part about the dedication ceremony was seeing the relief and joy of all my undergraduate and alumni brothers. It was a long time coming, but Beta Xi is finally back on campus and stronger than its ever been before.”
By resolution of the Resident and Graduate Councils, as well as Beta Xi Board of Governors and Housing Corporation, the chapter house was dedicated as Crane Hall. The house dedication and a bronze plaque are in recognition of Crane’s devotion to his chapter, Fraternity and university for the past 30 years. Crane is also a member of the Grady College of Journalism at Georgia’s Board of Trust. A roast of Crane followed the formal ceremony.
“When I joined Beta Xi chapter in the spring of 1980, I never would have envisioned serving Phi Tau later as national president or having a building named for me,” Crane said. “I’m still processing the latter.”
Beta Xi is now well positioned for excellence at Georgia, perhaps in a way it has never been before. As it enters the spring semester recruitment period, holding 12 accepted bids, membership in the chapter is expected to surpass 100 active members by the end of the academic year.
“The house will help tremendously with recruiting the best new members that UGA has to offer,” Hardgrove said. “The amenities available along with the cost and location are second to none. Added to an already stellar recruitment program, the house will allow us to become one of the largest Phi Tau chapters in the country.”
Beta Xi chapter brothers during the dedication ceremony.