Author Archives: spdeangelis
Our proposed plan of action would first include setting up an archival system, where all artifacts, photos, books, and other historical pieces would be recorded. The small glass case in the front entryway that has extremely valuable artifacts is not convincing enough for people to fully internalize the fraternity chapter at this location. This archival full of artifacts should be put in the original places among the house in which they were found.
We would additionally like to promote a similar short term development consisting of two steps, involving some of the economics regarding the preservation. The first being to create one central site, where the history of the site could be documented online in a manner that would be accessible to all interested parties. This way the site can continue to serve its non-use value purposes for Zeta Psi brothers nationally, other Greek-letter organizations and people interested in the development of the UC Berkeley campus.
The second step of the plan would ensure that the 2251 College Building remained in use as the Archaeological Research Facility to preserve the direct-use values of the site for the University, the Department of Anthropology, UC Berkeley students and interested community members. This includes maintaining the program of outreach events to community members as well as continuing conducting research in the facility labs so that the importance of the archaeology component of the Department of Anthropology continues to be acknowledged at the University. We would also suggest maintaining a fund, in addition to asking the state for funding, that could be used to help pay for future updates/safety renovations for the building as deemed necessary by the faculty whose offices are housed in the building.
In order to maintain the house’s sustainability with as little environmental impact as possible, we would like to secure a second seismic evaluation to occur by 2023 (two decades after the outfitting between 2001 and 2003). This construction, while inducing a slight impact on the environment, will ensure the site continues serving and educating students and professors alike. At the time of the 2023 evaluation, we would also take action to implement more energy conscious tactics, such as solar paneling to reduce the environmental impact of energy used by the facility.
Lastly, our long term plan of action will include demonstrating the historical aspect through incorporating the Berkeley Zeta Psi chapter into some of Berkeley’s classes and academic efforts. It would be extremely beneficiary to draw on the house as an example for students to understand in their research, as they would be able to experience and study it first hand. However, not only would the Anthropology Department and the Archaeological Research Facility at Cal implement the fraternity’s history, but other departments at the University would as well. This way, a more wholesome view of the Zeta Psi fraternity could reach a greater level of the student body opposed to only being spread to a certain niche of Berkeley students.
The interpretive plan for the 2251 College Building consists of four distinct components that all interact to create a comprehensive and immersive experience for anyone that visits or wants to learn about the site. The first component of the plan is the, “Picture the Past” project, which leads visitors on a visual tour of what the facility looked like during its time as a chapter house for the Iota chapter of the Zeta Psi Fraternity. The visual tour includes placing artifacts from the days of the fraternity in areas of the facility where they would have been used during the time of the fraternity. The visual tour will incorporate an app for cellular devices that will guide the visitor through the house along the tour of the artifacts, perhaps with an element of augmented reality such as Google Cardboard that would allow the visitor to see the room as it would have been back then if they chose to use that element of the tour.
The second component of the plan is “A Walk Through the Ages: An Audio Journey of the 2251 College Building” which will lead visitors on an audio tour of the facility. Visitors will have the option to listen to a tour that guides them through the facility as it would have been during its time as a fraternity house with narration and stories told by alumni of the fraternity. The second audio tour would work in the same way as the previous one, but would guide the visitor through the facility as it would have been during the NASA/UC Berkeley space research center years, narrated by Ruth Tringham.
The third component of the plan is the, “A Night Out with the Zeta Psi Brothers” project which includes planning mixer events during which members of the Zeta Psi fraternity and alumni could visit the facility, see the artifacts, listen to stories about the house, potentially take the tours and enjoy an authentic meal that would have been served during the times that the house was the fraternity.
The fourth and final component of the plan is the “An Interactive History of the 2251 College Building ” website on which all of the photographs, interviews, videos, floor plans and histories of the facility can be uploaded for visitors who are unable to physically visit the site. The website will incorporate a single stop in which visitors can access the visual tour video, audio tour sound clips, videos from mixers and can purchase tickets for the mixers. The website will be accompanied by a display case in the entryway of the facility that includes artifacts from when the facility was a fraternity, photographs, and objects from the modern-day Zeta Psi Iota chapter for comparative knowledge. The online website will be accessible remotely to anyone who has a computer as well as to visitors inside the facility on electronic tablets in order to provide a way to enhance their visit to the site.
The preservation of cultural heritage of the original Zeta Psi fraternity house located at 2251 College Avenue holds strong value to the UC Berkeley community.
Professor Conkey noted on her commitment to renovating the house during 2001 through to 2003, where all cultural, spiritual, historical, and aesthetic values were reawakened. While replacing certain walls, the crew discovered carved names into wood panels sustaining the fraternity chapter’s cultural practices. Along with this intriguing finding, the ARF and Anthropology department have displayed a case of original artifacts from the fraternity that were discovered during renovation.
Some change however, in the aesthetic values overall, allowed the building to be preserved and represent a culture that was once run by the young elite brothers of Berkeley. The values of the building have remained in place, as many of the rooms, stairwells, large living spaces, and artifacts still keep the original fraternity house alive with some of its original visual integrity.
As much of the UC Berkeley campus and city have also changed, the house is now technically not on College Avenue, where it once received a lot of traffic of people. The department and research facility use is additionally not great, therefore the foot traffic inside of the house helps preserve and maintain the structure.
If there were to be one major threat to our site, it would be the Boalt Law School of Berkeley. Their portion of campus is directly next to the 2251 Colleg eBuilding, and if they were to expand further it would be logical for them to absorb our site and utilize the land differently.However, their recent expansions, first of their garage (due east of the back of the 2251 College Building) and, most recently, with a re-orientation of Boalt to the south with extensive interior renovations have not impacted on the 2251 College Building.
2251 College Building is one of the oldest buildings associated with the University of California, Berkeley. It is also one of the only brick buildings still left on campus. This building has been used as a fraternity house and a space research facility. The building is currently being used as an archeological research facility and partially as the Department of Anthropology.
The Zeta Psi fraternity – Iota chapter was founded in 1870, where it became the “first fraternity on the West Coast – indeed, the first fraternity to establish a chapter west of the Mississippi.” (Zeta Psi Fraternity). The fraternity needed a chapter house to facilitate them and thus a building was built at what was then the 2251 College Avenue location in 1876; the building itself was considered very luxurious for the time period since its Victorian style façade paired with running water and electricity in the interior was a sight not commonly seen. This house though was torn down and quickly replaced on the same location by the Zeta Psi’s in 1910. This second, rebuilt Zeta Psi House served as the chapter’s house from 1910 to 1956. By the 1950s, the Zeta Psi membership was larger than the 2251 College Building could accommodate, which is one of the main reasons the brothers decided to abandon the property. Another big reason for abandoning 2251 College Building was because the brothers felt they were isolated from the rest of Greek life as well as the fact that there was an increased number of fraternal competition. This was combined with the fact that there was increased amount of surveillance on their location due to the close proximity to UC Berkeley academic buildings. Thus, the Zeta Psi’s traded their property on campus with the university for the 2728 Bancroft Avenue – a building the university owned.
This location is currently being used to host the Archaeological Research Facility and the faculty offices of archaeologists in the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley. The structure mainly is similar to how the building was at the last rebuilding in 1910, with changes only due to necessary updates that have come with use and time.
While the campus address of the building is still the “2251 College Building”, it is technically no longer on College Avenue, since now the building is not on that street but is entirely surrounded by the university grounds. The address is a piece of heritage that the site will always be able to boast of and a way of connecting its past with the present.