Gamma-Rho, which began its life in Lambda Chi Alpha with 44 charter members on October 6, 1926, had its origin in the local society of Sigma Phi. At that time, Sigma Phi traced its history back 13 years. Today, Lambda Chi Alpha is the one of the largest and most successful fraternities on OU’s campus.
Fraternity housing at the University of Oklahoma began with houses constructed from 1910 to 1920. The newer fraternities purchased existing houses or rented them. There was a building boom from 1929 to 1930 during which seven of the new fraternities built three-story mansions in a variety of architectural styles.
The Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity house was built when one of the chapter’s founders, Loyd Harris, purchased some land on the southwest corner of Lindsey Street and College Avenue. Harris then donated a portion of the land to his fraternity for the construction of its new house.
The land was undeveloped prairie and the building would be the first constructed south of Lindsey Street on the approach to the university from the west. Aerial photos from 1930 show the striking profile of this new structure, jutting up from undeveloped agricultural land with the university seemingly far to the north. The only university buildings south of the campus’s North Oval at that time were the new Bizzell Memorial Library and Oklahoma Memorial Stadium at the corner of Jenkins Avenue and Lindsey Street.
Chapter House – circa 1930
Chapter House – 1958
Of the more than 20 original fraternity houses on the campus from the 1920s, over 75 percent have been demolished. The original fraternity row along University Boulevard and north of the campus now consists of parking lots and apartments. One is used by the university to house academic offices, and one is a private residence. Only two remain in use for their original purposes.
Of the original fraternity houses, only the Beta Theta Pi house at 800 Chautauqua Avenue and the Lambda Chi Alpha house at 904 College remain. Now more than 90 years old, the house has been the only residence for the Gamma-Rho chapter of Lambda Chi Alpha and has housed all its members. We are the only fraternity on campus that can make such a claim.
Historical account by Jon Williamson