When alumni of the Sigma Phi Society’s Epsilon Chapter gathered Sept. 10-13 to celebrate the restoration of their 75-year-old West Campus home at 1 Forest Park Lane, they also paid formal tribute to Ezra Cornell with a plaque marking the site of the university founder’s original homestead.
The fraternity house is thought to sit on a piece of the land that Ezra Cornell called home – and that he ultimately gave to establish the university almost 150 years ago. A stone wall behind the fraternity’s basement social room, which contains a “blocker tie ring” for tying horses or cattle, is believed to be from Cornell’s original barn.
Cornell’s great-great-great-grandson Ezra Cornell ’70 wrote a letter to the fraternity members expressing his appreciation for the gesture.
“Until this weekend there were only two obvious places on campus that paid formal tribute to the Founder: the statue on the Arts Quad and the crypt at Sage Chapel. Your plaque on the entry to 1 Forest Park Lane identifies the Founder and the historic site from which the first truly American University was born,” Cornell wrote.
“What was originally created, and what we work hard to sustain, is a university based on the fundamentals of liberty. … I think it is historically significant that the Epsilon was located over the lands where the Founder labored, and that for 75 years the society has labored on the very same spot and played an increasing role in strengthening what is great about the University.”
During the reunion the fraternity also presented 13 newly designed and updated banners to Cornell, including one representing Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar. The banners hang in Willard Straight Hall’s Memorial Room.
– Lauren Gold