1895: Delta Rho society founded, holds first meeting in Orono
November, 1897: Delta Rho constitution voted and approved
November, 1897 – January 1900: Delta Rho petitions Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Phi Gamma Delta, Phi Kappa Upsilon, but does not pursue any of them. Also, Delta Rho is recruited by Alpha Chi Rho and Phi Sigma Kappa but rejects both.
October, 1901: Delta Rho petitions Sigma Chi
April 19th, 1902: Delta Rho Initiated into Sigma Chi as the fraternity’s 73rd chapter at the Bangor House in downtown Bangor, at the time a palace hotel whose guests included former presidents and prominent dignitaries, but still stands today as an assisted living facility for the elderly and disabled. Sigma Chi founder Benjamin Piatt Runkle, a military science professor at UMaine and a strong influence in the founding of Rho Rho, is among those in attendance. Of all fifteen charter members, fourteen are Delta Rho.
April 21, 1902: First meeting of Sigma Chi, Rho Rho chapter takes place
April 28, 1902: Though discussions for a house began as early as 1897, the chapter votes to move into a new house on the corner of Route 2 and North Main Streets in Orono. The cost of the 1865 house, including furnishings, totals only $4000. Deed is passed in 1905.
June 2, 1905: First Rho Rho Chapter house association is formed.
March 3, 1935: Chapter meeting is held, the minutes from which read “Meeting opened. Meeting then broken up by fire which destroyed house.”
June 28, 1935: UMaine Board of Trustees votes to approve the building of a new Sigma Chi chapter house on the land formerly occupied by Mount Vernon Girls School, which had burnt down in previous years.
Summer/Fall 1935: New chapter house is built on College Ave for $40,205
February 1935: New House Association is formed after old one dissolves
1941-1945: Because the majority of the chapter is serving their country in WWII, the house association leases the building to the University of Maine, which temporarily uses the house as a dormitory.
1946 – 1950: As the war comes to an end, many brothers return to college and the house reopens as Sigma Chi
1952: Rho Rho celebrates its 50th anniversary and buries a time capsule in the front yard of the Sigma Chi house. In attendance were undergrads Al Bancroft, Frank Pickering, Al Bingham and Neil McGowan, who would all later serve on the Rho Rho house association in 1992
1965 – 1970: As fighting increases during the war in Vietnam, so does membership in Sigma Chi. This is due largely in part to brothers staying in school as long as possible to avoid being sent to war. In 1968, Rho Rho’s numbers stand in the mid sixties, forty-three of them living in the house. The year also marks the very first Derby Days at Rho Rho
1970: Housemother Mary Pray retires, the last housemother to serve at Rho Rho
June, 1976: Housing Corporation decides to host its spring meeting in the chapter house, but is appalled at the end of semester mess. The house, a once beautiful building when housing corps members lived in it, is damaged beyond their imagination and they vote to close it due to negligence
July, 1976: A strong brotherhood rallies to convince the housing corporation that closing their house will be a mistake, vowing to spend their own time and money into repairing their battered yet beloved building. Though the corporation eventually agrees to keep the house open, the active chapter is prepared to ‘accidentally’ burn the house down should they decide to close it
1989 - 1990: UMO begins a major clean up effort, places several fraternities on probation due to infractions. After a weekend party in the chapter house involving a fight with a guest, Rho Rho is cited for several violations. The university, as well as several prominent Rho Rho alumni, begins to watch Rho Rho very closely. Ty Batteese, an undergrad from a fledgling Boston University Sigma Chi colony (not yet a chapter), transfers to UMO and is initiated into Sigma Chi Rho Rho chapter.
1991: Still on probation under a strict no-alcohol mandate, Rho Rho hosts a formal in the chapter house and serves alcohol. All brothers and pledges are present, with the exception of Ty Batteese and house advisor John Moon, a grad student in the Business Administration program, who were both fully aware of the situation. A female guest, invited by a brother and escorted home safely by a sober escort to her dorm, reports the next morning to public safety that she had been raped at a Sigma Chi party the night before. As a result, UMO, Sigma Chi headquarters and older Rho Rho alumni swiftly close the chapter house. No charges were filed against any brother, but all were removed from their house a week before final exams.
1991-1992: Older Rho Rho alums begin a massive capital campaign to refurbish the Sigma Chi house. Over $400,000 is raised and the house is renovated to the way it looked in 1935. Because the house is uninhabitable, Ty Bateese and Sigma Chi nationals brings a small group of pledges to M.I.T. where they are initiated into Sigma Chi. A local entrepreneur with business experience, John Moon, then chapter advisor who snuck beer into brothers’ rooms during the no alcohol period, is soon thereafter put in charge of
financing as Treasurer of the newly formed House Association. Coupled with the many high costs of the renovations, he purchases leather couches, hand-made oriental rugs, a 62 inch television, and a tanning bed for his private suite, among many other frivolous expenses. Moon also begins to transfer funds from the Rho Rho fund into his own bank account, in an attempt to finance and renovate a Bangor building which he had purchased in years prior. His clandestine activities are unnoticed by other members of the house association, and by the time they are discovered two years later, Moon squanders $120,000 of heart-felt donations from Rho Rho alums.
In addition, an angry letter is sent to brothers from the 1970’s and 1980’s. Drafted by one alumnus from the 1930’s, he accuses them of severe negligence in the chapter house during their time as actives, citing their irresponsibility and bad examples as the cause for the mess that occurred in 1991. He also informs them they are no longer welcome at Rho Rho. Thus, with one letter written by one man, gone is thirty years of strong brotherhood, heritage and legacy.
1992 -1994: As a result of its closing, Rho Rho re-opens its completely renovated house under a strict chem-free policy mandated by UMaine, Sigma Chi International Fraternity, and a handful of prominent Rho Rho alumni. Gaining national headlines, the new direction is titled “Renaissance at Rho Rho”, and quickly becomes a model for other fraternities across the nation. Though the undergrads are proud of their accomplishments and are committed to their cause, there are still Sigs on campus who lived in the house in 1991 when it was shut down. Animosity is high because they had trusted an outsider from another school (Ty Batteese) who was allowed to stay active in what was once their chapter. It is the only time in our history that two different groups of Sigma Chi brothers share the same campus.
1994 – 1996: Though the chapter has grown tremendously in numbers (mid forties), less than twenty live in the house. This is due to many factors, which range from high costs to lack of privacy to being forced to go elsewhere to have a beer. The house association does not understand why, with so many actives, the house won’t fill and sustain itself financially.
1997: With much overhead and little resources to support it, the chapter house continues to increase its debt. Apathy within the chapter is at an all time high because meetings are dominated by discussions regarding finances, argued strongly by a house association that cannot relate to modern times. Brothers are secretly drinking in the house again. The chapter drafts a heart-written letter to alums from the 1970’s, pleading for help to pull it off the sinking ship. Several brothers come forward, volunteering to bridge the gap of damaged alumni relations. It is proposed that the dry policy has been working against us, and a simple change to allow booze in the house again will help with numbers. The housing corporation disagrees and gives the chapter one more semester to raise the capital to pay off past bills.
January, 1998: The chapter fails to raise the funds in order to support the house, so the house association closes it, selling the property to the University for $400,000, less than
half of its worth. Brothers from all generations are crushed, but no one is hurt more than the active chapter, who were put in a no-win situation from day one.
1998 – 2001: The chapter manages to survive without a house, securing a room in the basement of Somerset hall as its new meeting place. Parties take place at Riverplex, a house on North Fourth St in Old Town and eventually 991 Main St, also in Old Town, the most legendary party house the chapter has ever seen!
Homecoming 2002: Rho Rho celebrates is 100th anniversary at UMaine! Brothers from all over the country attend the event, hosted at our old residence, the newly dedicated Sigma Chi Heritage House. Brothers from the 1952 burial of the time capsule are present to unearth it.
2003 -2007: A handful of recent alums form the first ever Rho Rho Alumni Chapter, whose purpose includes assisting the struggling active chapter in Orono. As of the beginning of the spring semester, 2007, a new energy fills the undergraduate chapter. By May, it is voted the most improved fraternity at UMaine. Thus, the glory of Rho Rho begins to shine once again!