Pitt House finally gets that “lived in” look

In August, Pitt undergraduate brothers moved back in to their historic chapter house at 225 North Dithridge Street. The chapter house has been renovated and re-inhabited after many months of struggles financing, fighting and finagling. 

Thirty years ago Pitt fraternities were moved “out of the neighborhood” to university Greek housing. Pilam decided to stay, making them the only surviving fraternity house on Pitt, and they’ve been there since 1920.

Alumni support was the key

Chapter alumni initiated plans for house renovations in the early 2000s after several years of house disrepair and resorting to renting to borders. Plans were laid but it took several years to line up financiers.

When things finally fell into place, individual alumni contributors purchased commemorative bricks for the indoor legacy wall or a brick to decorate the paver path in the backyard. To fully finance the renovations, chapter alumni worked with an investment group of Pilam alumni.

In November 2021, the chapter held a dedication ceremony attended by over 100 brothers and alumni, while other notable alumni sent their well wishes.

The Chapter House was officially named the Joel Smalley Chapter House at the November Celebration. Joel has dedicated over 60 years of service to Pi Lam.  He was the Chapter Adviser for over 50 years and is currently the Adviser Emeritus and President of the Alumni Association. Joel received the inaugural Pi Lam Adviser Award in 2007 and has also been recognized with a diamond chip Council Key, Big Pi and Edward Goldman Achievement Awards.

Overcoming struggles

Pilam brothers are nothing if not determined. In November 2021, with the house was almost completed, work was halted by a neighborhood association fighting the zoning status. The house was zoned as a “fraternity” in the 1920s and was grandfathered. This went back and forth in appeals until the zoning board ruled in favor of the chapter.

Undergrads enjoying new house

The house has 11 single bedrooms and one double, and bathrooms on every floor. The first floor has a common area and a full kitchen, and the basement was refinished as a “hangout area.” The renovation struck a balance of maintaining some historical parts of the house while modernizing.

Walkthrough “before” video
Walkthrough “after” video

To preserve the chapter history, the house was adorned with preserved artifacts including trophies, composites and paddles.

Big congrats to Pitt! The other “house that leads.”