Hoping this newsletter finds everyone healthy and safe. When I started to write this fall was quickly evolving into winter in New York, and I wanted to provide an update on the massive undertaking of this year. Time has flown by and today I find myself home with a snow day, so today is the day to put the last of the details in and get this out to one and all.
First a recap: If you received the last newsletter you know we found some unpleasant surprises during our first annual Alumni Harborfest work weekend. If you did not receive the last newsletter, I can briefly say that years of water infiltration on the north side of the house finally caught up to us. We had noticed some sizable gaps over windows (where there should not be any). An initial inspection found a lot of rotted wood at both the top and bottom of the wall. So at that time we brought in a local architect whom we have a relationship with to get a professional opinion on what we needed to do and approximate costs. We announced the need for fundraising and immediately began working on the north wall in the area of the Dance Floor. By the time you're reading this, the entire second story which includes the Fish Bowl along with the porch outside of the Presidential room, were jacked up between 3-4” and the entire wall underneath removed.
This opened up about a 26 foot span where we replaced the rim joists with equally sized LVL (Laminated Veneer Lumber- stronger and more water resistant than regular lumber) beams. The area replaced covers from just inside of the east wall across the dance floor to the wall adjoining the back of the kitchen. The new LVL beams at the ceiling now carry the load of the ceiling and the Fishbowl.
While the storage area behind the kitchen did not appear initially to be affected, the rot that was across the rest of the wall exists there too. We are tabling that repair for “down the road”. Perhaps next year? As anyone that's worked on an old house will tell you, once you open up an area you may find a lot more than what you expected. That certainly seems to be the rule of thumb for a house built in 1848. The north-facing wall of the Fish bowl is also compromised by decades of water leaks. Everything is now watertight from the bottom wall of the Fish bowl down to the basement. The fish bowl will need the wall repaired but once again this is another “down the road” event. We've instructed our guys to make everything watertight to get us through the winter. While not all of the exterior parts have been reconstructed, it's looking really good. The walls now have insulation which should help a bit with heat retention, and utility bills.
One item I'm currently researching is the columns for the outside of the house. The originals were composed of multi-piece wood construction that completely came apart due to water over the last several decades. If any Alumni has contacts with experienced craftsmen/ contractors please reach out to me at “firstname.lastname@example.org” Finding skilled tradesmen these days is tough. We are lucky to have an honorary member who is a contractor that has been assisting with all the work at the house.
By the time you read this the guys have wrapped up the final trim pieces on the exterior as well as the interior walls for the dance floor. We have reused materials wherever possible and will decide on the rest of the finishing materials over the winter.
The inside of the Dance floor is almost back together. Once again we have reused as much of the former materials as possible.
As you can see there was a removal of some of the flooring that has been temporarily patched in with plywood. We are exploring what to do with that flooring since we know that wood is not an ideal material to withstand spilled liquids etc. You may have also noticed that we layered wood sheathing under the sheet rock on the walls. For the past 8 years we have been using this method anytime a wall is stripped and redone, since it adds a solid substructure making it much harder for holes to be poked into the new sheetrock. Window trim will be replaced in the next week. Columns and the balance of the exterior trim replacement will occur in the Spring when the weather allows.
I really want to thank all the brothers who’ve stepped up and donated funds for this endeavor, as well as any brothers who have made an alumni dues donation for the first-time. At this time we have raised $32,568.30 toward our goal of $45,000. Keep in mind that any online payments have a small portion taken out in fees, that's why the numbers look odd. Please continue to spread the word of our work to any alumni whom you are in contact with that may not receive our newsletters. We will be working with our architect to determine the approximate costs for the repairs that had to be tabled at this time. We will also look into the costs for replacing the former covered porch on the Montcalm street side of the house complete with the grand pillars that enhance the beauty of Lakeside. Stay tuned for these future projects!
Hopefully you will enjoy seeing the results of your donations in the photos shown in this newsletter, and make the commitment to make an annual dues donation each year going forward. If we have every alumni donate $100 each year our annual investment in Lakeside would easily be between $100,000 and $200,000 per year (2000 alumni X $100= $200,000) Over the past 8 years we have only had about 75-100 brothers make an annual donation.
Alumni donations should go to Dave Morgan, checks can be mailed to Dave at
2415 Oakview Drive, Rochester NY, 14617
Or at our web site https://www.sigmatauchi.org/donate
We can do better, and we really NEED to do better in this area. Several alumni have reached out regarding scholarships available for the active fraternity members, and have questioned if the appeal of pledging would increase if we were able to offer financial help to the undergraduate community via scholarships. Mike Caldwell spearheaded the start of the first Sigma Tau Chi scholarship, and $1000 has been awarded each year for the past two years. I am unsure of a scholarship attracting more pledges versus an awesome house in great condition. It certainly makes it easier for brothers to move in, if the house is in good condition. The active community has been really helpful on this current repair project, and I see them making good choices during the pandemic and dealing with some pretty severe restrictions that I don’t think any of us would have enjoyed when we attended SUNY Oswego.
Active President's Message:
This semester was obviously very different than previous semesters, because of Covid-19 restrictions. As a result we had more responsibilities with the school in order to make sure that we were upholding the schools regulations. That being said however, we kept our heads low and made it through the semester without any problems. It’s looking like we are going to be in a similar situation next semester, but we are experienced and fully prepared to take it on again. We were also able to run a philanthropy event for the Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood (SUDC) in honor of our brother, Alec Cerrato’s, late sister and ended up raising a total of $850. Overall after this semester I’m very proud of all of the guys, thankful for the support of the alumni, and excited to see what the future holds. YIB- Ben Barr F’17
Active Pledge Master Message:
This semester we had some difficulty with recruiting new members, as we weren’t allowed to host any rush events or visit the dorms due to COVID-19. However, we were still able to get two good brothers, Matt Borrow and Piero Fratto. Matt is closeby from Fulton, NY and Piero is from Staten island who is cousins with an alum, Jeff Little SP ‘15. I have faith that these two young men will be great examples of a Sig Tau brother, but hopefully we will be able to get a much bigger pledge class in the spring. YIB - Dan Malinowski F’19
House President's Message:
This semester went very well in the manor of the house. Area’s stayed cleaned. The actives psyched out on multiple occasions with the construction on the dance floor helping Joe Ruggio with the wall. There were some slight negatives of the semester. We went about a week without 3 bathrooms due to an issue with Miami, along with having no heat for a couple of days. Besides those small things we rounded off the semester with completing a new party table painted by our new white rose. YIB- Alec Cerrato F’19
Let’s show them our support by doing everything we can to support our wonderful house at 8 Montcalm Street!
Long live our home Lakeside, and long live Sigma Tau Chi at Oswego State college!
Your in Brotherhood- Howard Botting- S'1986