Eighty Years of the Delta Gamma Executive Offices
For the first 69 years of its history, Delta Gamma Fraternity was a completely volunteer-run organization. All administrative work from membership records to managing ANCHORA subscriptions was done out of the personal homes of members. One of the longest tenures was held by Leulah Judson Hawley, Lambda-Minnesota. She served from 1915 to 1934 as the Secretary-Editor and is credited with making the earliest effort to centralize recording keeping and support services of the organization. All this work was done out of her own home in Minneapolis, Minnesota. By 1942, it was clear that Delta Gamma needed permanent office space. The first paid staff member, Roberta Abernethy, Epsilon-Ohio State, was hired under the titled Executive Secretary. That same year she and her one assistant, Jean Peirce Dredge, Epsilon-Ohio State, opened the Delta Gamma Central Office in two rented rooms in the American Insurance Union Citadel (now the LeVeque Tower) located in downtown Columbus, Ohio. The office would move twice ending with its current location in a suburb of Columbus. 2022 marks 80 years of Delta Gamma having a dedicated office. This timeline weaves through the history of Executive Offices, the spaces it has occupied, and just a few of the people who have made the work accomplished there possible.
1873: Anna Boyd, Mary Comfort and Eva Webb form the Delta Gamma Fraternity while attending the Lewis School in Oxford, Mississippi.
1915: Leulah Judson Hawley, Lambda-Minnesota served as Secretary-Editor until her passing in 1934. Her home in Minneapolis, for all intents and purposes, served as a “centralized office” for the fraternity. During her tenure membership reaches 9,000.
1924: Fraternity President Nancy Brown Woolett, Phi-Colorado urged that a permanent headquarters be established. In her address to Convention, she talked at length about this issue stating, “I hope we may have time for the consideration formally or informally, on the subject of a National Centralized office. A place where all equipment may be installed, all files kept, and where we may have the services of a full-time secretary.” Going on to note the difficulties in doing such work out of the homes of volunteers she stated, “Many of our sister fraternities have met this problem by establishing a more or less permanent office.”
1942: The Convention body voted to establish a Central Office. Roberta Abernethy, Epsilon-Ohio State was hired as the first paid staff member. With her assistant, Jean Peirce Dredge, Epsilon-Ohio State, they opened the Delta Gamma Central Office in two rented rooms at 50 W. Broad Street. Delta Gamma was one of the last women’s Greek organizations to have a national headquarters.
1948: Third room is added to the Central Office due to increasing staff and workload.
1949: Publications department was added to the Central Office. Responsibilities included editing the ANCHORA which had up to this point been done out of the personal home of the editor. This was the precursor of today's marketing and communications department.
1951: Delta Gamma Foundation is incorporated in Ohio.
1955: The number of staff and workload increased significantly, and larger office space was needed. Funding had begun to construct a headquarters, in the interim the Central Office moved to 1820 Northwest Boulevard.
1961: Ground was broken for the construction of the new Delta Gamma headquarters at the corner of Zollinger Road and Riverside Drive. Staff were able to utilize the space by Thanksgiving weekend. When construction was completed, Delta Gamma became the first women’s fraternity to build its own headquarters.
1962: Delta Gamma Executive Offices was dedicated on March 10, with more than 750 people in attendance. Only the first floor was occupied by staff. The second floor was leased to various businesses to help pay off the mortgage.
1965 - Portions of the second floor began to be occupied by staff. Part of this space became the archive, managed by Frances Lewis Stevenson, Zeta-Albion. This same year, the renters of the small house on the lot to the south of the main building vacated and Council decided to create a multi-use space for meetings, field secretary trainings and to accommodate overnight guests. It was dubbed the Anchor In.
1972 - Less than 10 years after the building dedication the mortgage was completely paid off. In celebration, a mortgage burning was held. This same year, a second phone line was added to Executive Offices and Roberta Abernethy retired.
1973: A ship anchor, on loan from the U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Curator Branch, was placed on property where it has remained to this day.
1978: The last of renters left Executive Offices and staff now occupied the entire building. The archive space was renamed The Frances Lewis Stevenson Archives.
1981: A large-scale redecoration project is undertaken. It included repainting walls, new carpeting and furniture pieces being brought in, as well as work to reupholstering some pieces.
1982: Executive Offices entered the computer age with this Prime 2250 minicomputer and office printer.
1985: Anchor Trader, an in-house product shop, opened occupying much of the basement portion of Executive Offices. It would close in 2007.
1990: The tremendous growth of Delta Gamma meant that the original building was now too small. This led to Project 90, an addition to Executive Offices that would add space for the Foundation. Anchor In was torn down to make way for this expansion.
1991: Construction is completed and named The Dorothy Garrett Martin Center. This was in honor of Dorothy Martin, Eta-Akron; and her husband Paul a Phi Delta Theta who had donated the lead gift to build the center. Dedicated on June 23, Delta Gamma became the first women’s fraternity to build a facility dedicated to serving the philanthropic activities of its Foundation.
1995: From 1986 – to 1995 the Delta Gamma Foundation sponsored “The Art of the Eye” exhibit. This visual exhibit featured works of artists with vision impairments. Several pieces were brought in to adorn Executive Offices included the large piece seen in these photos, “Untitled, 1985” by Jennifer Casey.
2011: Beginning in 2007 renovations were done throughout Executive Offices.
2015: The Frances Lewis Stevenson Archives was renovated. New exhibit cases were added in 2017 to display more artifacts.
2022: From the two rented rooms in downtown Columbus to the 16,500 square foot building today, the story of the Delta Gamma Executive Offices reflects the hard work and dedication of countless members.