Tangled in legal disputes the last few years, members of the former Phi Delta Theta fraternity now have no choice but to stand by as their house becomes university property.
At Friday's Penn State Board of Trustees meeting, the board approved the purchase of the 240 N. Burrowes Road property for $1.75 million. This sale officially ends all unresolved lawsuits between the two parties, fraternity attorney Bernie Cantorna said -- including a dispute about unpaid bills in 2009.
After the fraternity's charter was suspended in 2007 due to drinking violations, Phi Delta Theta reemerged as the unrecognized Phi Society and ultimately became a colony of Tau Delta Phi in April 2009.
University officials had been in discussions with representatives from the Phi Delta Theta Alumni Corporation about seizing the property deed, and there will be an official settlement sometime in May, said Sandy Deveney, a Phi Delta Theta alumnus.
The university has not announced what will happen to the land, but current residents of the 1,650 square-foot property can stay until their lease runs out in the summer, Penn State spokeswoman Jill Shockey said.
Fraternity members who currently live in the house said though Penn State's purchase was inevitable, it is difficult to accept that they will no longer be able to enjoy the home where so many memories have been made.
"It's a very, very sad thing for a 104-year-old house to just disappear like that," said Kevin Haslam (senior-sports broadcast journalism), former president of Tau Delta Phi and a current house resident. "As far as I'm concerned, this property no longer exists. It pains me to know it won't be here when I come back [as an alumnus]."
Despite uncertainty about the university's plans for the property, there has been some talk regarding future uses.
Penn State spokesman Bill Mahon said there was discussion years ago of turning it into a park. Former Tau Delta Phi President Ryan Lang said he heard a rumor that it will be turned into a parking lot.
"We've made so many memories, so many friends in that house," Lang (senior-political science) said. "Even as alumni coming back with our children, I'll say, 'That was my fraternity house. Now it's a parking lot.' "
Though they have not yet secured a location for a new fraternity house, members are looking.
"Our nationals are working hard with us," Lang said. "If we don't get one next year, we'll get one in the future. We're a strong brotherhood. We'll be fine."