JOHNS HOPKINS CHAPTER
JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY - BALTIMORE, MD
The essential catalyst in the establishment of Alpha Delta Phi at Hopkins was Bro. Daniel Coit Gilman, an 1852 alumnus of the Yale Chapter of the fraternity. Gilman was the first president of the newly-established Johns Hopkins University, a somewhat radical and non-conforming upstart institution set in the northern edge of downtown Baltimore. Gilman (previously president of the University of California) took a firm and leading interest in the establishment of Alpha Delta Phi at Hopkins, believing that the presence of organizations such as Alpha Delta Phi enriched the lives of students and brought an independent and questioning presence to the new institution. The initiation of nine of the charter members at the fifty-seventh annual convention of the fraternity, then being held at New Haven, May, 1889, started the new Chapter on its career. Alpha Delta Phi was the fourth fraternity to establish a chapter at Johns Hopkins.
The Johns Hopkins Chapter grew steadily and relatively quickly, counting among its membership many individuals whose family names would become synonymous with the civic and business leadership of Baltimore. The chapter dominated campus life: the presidents of the University include five Alpha Delts; eleven buildings on the Homewood campus carry the names of Alpha Delta Phi alumni; a plethora of faculty members and trustees were and are part of the brotherhood; numerous scholastic and athletic awards are named for fraternity members. The chapter moved physically several times, following the university when it moved from its downtown Baltimore campus in the 1920s north to Homewood, the estate built by Charles Carroll of Carrollton (signed of the Declaration of Independence), as a wedding gift for his son. During the 1930s, the chapter thrived; activities slowed down considerably during World War II, then resumed afterwards. In the late 1960s, societal changes impacted every fraternity, and membership in the Johns Hopkins Chapter shrank to the point at which the chapter was not sustainable. The remaining brothers reluctantly voted to disband, and surrendered the chapter’s charter to the 139th Convention in 1971.
By 1978, the social protests and unrest had subsided to a considerable extent, and a group of Baltimore-area alumni determined that it was an auspicious time to restart the chapter. The first three-member class of brothers was initiated in 1979; the chapter’s charter was reinstated in 1982 by the 150th Convention, and the chapter (after a turbulent start) began to thrive and grow, as it continues to this day. In 1983, a group of freshman football players (who had traditionally joined another fraternity) decided that they wanted a newer and better fraternity experience, and collectively decided to join ADPhi, beginning the symbiotic relationship between the fraternity and the football team that continues to this day. The first chapter house for the “new” chapter was a rented townhouse on Maryland Avenue, but in 1986 a somewhat decrepit 16-unit apartment building on the southwest corner of 33rd & St. Paul Streets was purchased for the chapter thru a generous gift of a down payment by Bro. Ned Passano, JH ’27. The building had retail space on its basement level (St. Paul Street side of the structure), including a WaWa convenience market, and the fraternity quickly acquired the nickname “WaWa,” which endures to this day. The main entrance to the residential portion of the building was located at 5 East 33rd Street. In 2004, a developer approached the fraternity with a very attractive offer to purchase its premises at 5 East 33rd Street, and after an extensive search for a replacement location and intense negotiation by an alumni group, the present 26-unit apartment building at 3209 North Charles Street was purchased and occupied in the summer of 2006. The building can comfortably accommodate 60 students in the 24 units that are available for occupancy; one two-bedroom unit was reserved for occupancy by a housemother, and the largest unit in the building was refashioned into a 19’x 47’ chapter room, a media room and office space for the chapter.
While the building was in very good condition when the fraternity’s real estate corporation purchased it, substantial work has been done since the purchase to improve and upgrade the premises: masonry has been repointed, new gas-fired boilers installed, a new roof installed, considerable electrical and plumbing work effected, and the elevator equipment overhauled. A 20-person conference room and study center has been built in the basement (and named after Colby Umbrell, JH ’04, who made the supreme sacrifice for his country in Iraq in 2006); the bar area has been upgraded with air conditioning, new bathrooms and a cold room; archival space has been constructed for storage of historical records and memorabilia. With a current undergraduate membership of almost 100 outstanding young men, the Johns Hopkins Chapter of Alpha Delta Phi has surpassed its earlier status and dominates undergraduate life at the University.