Franklin & Marshall College


Lancaster, PA

On November 13, 1927 a small group of Franklin and Marshall students met in the rooms of one of their members and talked over the possibility of uniting themselves into a club or organization. They did not speak of it as a fraternity, but rather as a club because they decided that their organization was to be something distinctly different from any of the existing fraternities on the campus.  They chose the name Torch Club for their organization.  An initial goal was to avoid campus politics, but before the end of its first year six members of the club held student body offices.  In 1928 the club initiated two faculty members, one of whom, Herbert Anstaett, had been a founder of Sigma Delta Rho Fraternity at Miami University.  Through the leadership of Prof. Ansteatt, the Torch Club petitioned Sigma Delta Rho for a charter.

On Saturday, May 4, 1929, the Torch Club of Franklin and Marshall College was installed as the Eta Chapter of the Sigma Delta Rho Fraternity.  In spring 1930 the chapter purchased a chapter house.  On February 4, 1934, Eta of Sigma Delta Rho with Alpha Pi local fraternity, and moved into the former Alpha Pi house at 554 West James Street, Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  For eight of next nine semesters Sigma Delta Rho placed first academically among Franklin and Marshall fraternities.

During the 1935-36 academic year Sigma Delta Rho ceased to function as a national fraternity due to effects of the Great Depression.  The Fraklin and Marshall chapter contacted Dr. Albert Wilson, national advisor to Alpha Kappa Pi Fraternity, and after a period of negotiations the chapter decided on April 20, 1936 to petition Alpha Kappa Pi for a charter.  The petition was approved in initiation and installation as Alpha Gamma Chapter of Alpha Kappa Pi took place at the chapter’s house, 554 West James Street, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, on September 11 and 12, 1936, by Alpha Kappa Pi Grand Second Vice President Parke B. Fraim. Assisted by Beta Province Chief Albert G. Jahn, Grand Treasurer Frank J. Krebs, Alpha Editor C. Russell Kramer, and Clifford T. Graham, Fraternity Adviser Albert H. Wilson, Trustee Arba S. Taylor, and Penn State Alpha Kappa Pi members John F. Horting, William J. Robinson, Jr., and Lloyd H. Heckendorn.  The first Word War II death of either an Alpha Sig or Alpha Kappa Pi was Ensign Lee Fox, Jr., Alpha Gamma ‘42,who  gave his life for his country during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941

In 1946 Alpha Gamma chapter of Alpha Kappa Pi became Beta Pi Chapter of Alpha Sigma Phi as a result of the consolidation of the two fraternities.  Beta Pi Chapter became inactive in 1949; its roster contained 110 names.  

In the 1980’s a former chapter of another fraternity had reverted to local status and petitioned for a charter in Alpha Sigma Phi.  It was chartered as Alpha Tau II Chapter, despite the active Alpha Tau Chapter at Stevens Institute of Technology.  When Alpha Tau II failed in the 1990’s, its 36 member roster was added to the role of Beta Pi Chapter.