HOUSE TOUR . III
The House's Porch and Deck.
Prior to 1940,
The low picket fence enclosing the covered area
lies directly above the east wall of the original building's rear
For the first fifty years of this House's history,
that area behind that fence was all there was to the porch.
The open space lying beyond the fence, or the deck area, appeared
and is simply the flat roof of the addition to the House
that new owners Patrick Dempsey and wife
built as a garage, a dining room and a secondary kitchen
when they bought the House.
when the House was the private home of the Seymours, Dugans,
Dempseys, Krauses and Woolleys,
the room behind the two doors to the porch
was a Family Sitting Room.
It is now the Terrace Room bedroom.
In the early years of the House, there was no
electricity for fans, let alone air-conditioning,
and, therefore, during the summer months the Sitting Room could be
only by leaving open its window and two porch doors.
The porch was in those days screened to keep out flying insects.
The only traces of that screening to remain
are the picket fence and the door frame (at the far right, leading to
the fire escape).
The door frame still contained a screen door as late as the early
A hammock, a table, and several lounge and deck chairs
are kept on the deck;
and in good weather brothers and their friends often can be found
lying or sitting, sometimes even studying, under the sun.
The two higher roofs,
the one above the porch and the other
above the third floor bathroom and back bedrooms,
are also occasionally used, mainly by Fraternity members and House
desiring to sunbathe naked
and out of the sight of passersby below.
The House's topmost, peaked roof,
more than sixty feet above the sidewalks and streets of
is now off-limits as a safety precaution.
Access to that topmost roof
is by the ladder permanently attached to the back wall of the top
floor of the House.
A plank is now bolted onto the ladder to prevent unauthorized people
from climbing higher.
Cook-outs and Bar-B-Q's
are now much rarer than in years past.
In the late 1970s, a fire was started by embers
that blew off a charcoal grill left unattended on the porch
and burned through the roof's tenne sheeting
right down to the ceilings of the dining room and kitchen below.
Concern over another such accident
has necessitated the restricting of all charcoal grills
to the all-brick passageway located behind the House.
The picture above, taken in the mid-1940s, shows the House's original
the thick shrubs that with an iron fence held up the House's elevated
front and side yards,
the two sections of ivy already well on their way up the east
and the iron guard-rail that used to run lengthwise across the
second-floor porch's narrow roof
The rail fell over in the late 1960s and was removed in the early
Until 1986, there was a trap door
in the center of the front part of the topmost roof that lead into
When in 1973, the original attic bedroom was transformed,
and expanded, into the present Penthouse bedroom
by Bro. Henry Sandri, Al-'72, and his son Bro. Henry Sandri, Jr.,
they installed ceiling paneling that blocked access to the trap door
The trap door itself was removed in 1986 when Bro. Terrence Boyle
replaced the House's leaky tar roofs with tenne sheeting.
For safety reasons, the Fraternity in the 1960s
stopped using and sealed off the House's two main chimneys
(just barely visible in the picture shown above),
that connect with the two Living Room fireplaces,
with the Wild Kingdom, Ellis Island, Charter Room and Riverview
and, at one time, also with a fireplace located where The Cave
bedroom is now.
A third chimney, on the rear extension of the
that connects with the fireplaces in the Library and the basement
(and, a century ago, also with a now long-gone fireplace
that had once been in the Family Sitting Room
- now the Terrace Room bedroom).
continued to be used, until the mid-1970s, on the coldest winter
The beginning of rhe end for that chimney came in
December 1971, during the 103rd Line's Initiation Weekend,
when several loosened bricks fell down its flue into the Party Room
A few years later, in mid-winter 1975, when the basement fireplace
was being used,
during a party to help heat the House,
some embers or sparks went up the chimney with the smoke
and ignited something caught at the top of the flue.
A fire soon spread through various cracks in the brickwork
to the adjoining tar roofs at the back of the House.
Before long, unbeknownst to the revelers below,
twenty foot high flames were shooting skyward
from the House's burning roofs, illuminating the neighborhood.
By the time the Fire Department came and extinguished the blaze,
much of the ceiling and roof over the back bedroom,
and over the hallway leading to it, was gone.
For several weeks Bro. Eugene Valdes, Al-'74, while lying face-up in
could count the stars in the heavens through the open space where
once had been his ceiling.
One morning he even woke up covered with a blanket of newly fallen
The back passageway separating the Fraternity House
from the south wall of the apartment building at 1234 34th Street,
and giving the occupants of our two neighboring apartment
access to and from the rears of their buildings.
The passageway is 6.37 feet wide. Delta Phi Epsilon
owns the south 3.37 feet,
and the owner of the building at 1234 34th Street, NW, the north 3.0
of its entire 37.5 foot length behind the Fraternity House.
Each of the two property owners has an easement on the other's share
of the passageway
"for the purpose of light, air and access."
Visible on the back wall of the House are the bottom
section of the House's fire escape,
the windows of the Library, of Minnie's Bathroom and of the Kitchen
on the main floor,
the drain pipe from the roofs' gutters, an exhaust fan vent from the
a small window that used to be in the basement bathroom, but is
(ever since the 1967 re-construction of the entire basement area)
in the Barroom of the Party Room,
the box for cable television wires, and a rear door for the House's
Barely visible, next to the cable box, is the outline
of the window
that once looked out onto the House's back yard
This window was bricked up after World War I,
when the estate of the William Seymour, who first owned the
sold the building and land at 34th and Prospect to Patrick and
who made separate lots of the rear and side yards and built
the twin apartment buildings now at 1234 34th St and 3405 Prospect
Another bricked-up window is underneath the paneling in the Party
next to the basement fireplace,
and once looked out over the House's west yard.
Dumpsters, like the one in this picture, have been used
for the House's trash since the early 1980s,
when the City decided no longer to provide garbage collection
services for commercial housing.
Older brothers will remember, back when the City did collect the
how one of the most onerous duties of the Chapter's House Manager
was several times each month, on weekday evenings after popular
having to recruit volunteers to block the House's exits
to trap the gathered viewing brothers
and force them to help with the carrying of all the House's
out to the former coal delivery gangway for pick up the next
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