Updated: Jan 12
Happy almost 75th anniversary from the House of Blue. While the 75th does not roll out officially until next year, it'll be here before you know it! I hope you and your loved ones are healthy and making it through all the adversity in the world today. For those of you that have not heard, we have been reinstated to college now for almost a year and our Brothers are looking forward to continuing the traditions at the House of Blue. We have some great new members who are psyched and looking forward to keeping the house thriving. Our goal of each and every pledge class is to help improve Lakeside, which is near and dear to us all.
The reason for this newsletter is several fold. We’ve struggled keeping all our alumni in the loop so to speak. We have around 400 members registered for our Facebook page, so this is really to try and keep everyone else, not on Facebook, up on what's going on. There are obviously more Brothers not on FB than those that are. Next is to solicit donations for an issue that reared its ugly head over the summer. To let everyone know that we are currently working to improve the house and just not letting the place fall apart, I’m including information on projects done in the last year. We will need considerable financial support to pull this project off in its entirety. I'll provide details and at the end of this newsletter you’ll find some ideas for fundraisers. (If you’re more interested in just the “money needs” skip to the end) I really hope you read all of this since we have been very busy working on the house using a mix of annual donations (averaging around $7-9k a year) as well as money paid by the actives in the form of rent.
There are many of our alumni who are retired Industrial Arts teachers and plenty who are knowledgeable regarding construction and building. So I’m more than happy to provide details on the issues and the repairs. A significant “drop” was noted in the middle of the 26’ wall span, both from inside the house on the dance floor as well as from outside the house.
We opened up the walls on the dance floor and consulted an architect to get a professional opinion on what was wrong and how to fix it. Years of split beer inside and water driven in whatever cracks existing in the outside has caused irreversible rot to both the double rim
joist between the basement and the dance floor, and the rim joist at the ceiling level. The rot has occurred over many years but became noticeable this summer during our summer Harbor fest work event (details of this to follow). Since we opened the wall and found out how bad it is, we cannot really walk away and leave it. We had the ability to start the work, but to be able to complete the job in its entirety, we are going to require a considerable amount of money that we do not currently have in the bank.
Basically the entire wall in the affected area has to come down and be replaced. After we had the architect come in to review the structure, he also was able to provide help to us to develop a plan that was approved by the City of Oswego Codes Department. The architect's estimate is that we will need to raise between $40- $50,000 to cover the cost of the repairs. This would include not only rebuilding the wall replacing the rotted sections with modern structural stable LVL beams but also replacing the ornate columns on the outside of the house with fiberglass replicas. The current wooden columns no longer have the clay capitals at the top, and are severely compromised due to water infiltration over the years.
After we have opened the wall to identify the issues, we have had a local contractor (who happens to be an honorary brother) help the actives support the second story floor and slowly start to jack up the sagging areas. So far over a few weeks they have raised the area under the Fishbowl about 4 inches! In the last year we had already added extra supports under the Dance floor to stiffen the floor. These are now helping support the floor jacks being used to lift the Fishbowl. Here are some of the in progress pictures.
So we have started and want to get everything jacked, and beams replaced and sealed in before snow flies. If the donations come in fast enough we have the potential to replace all the outside columns, but depending on supplies and order lead times, this might have to wait until spring. Please help with whatever donation you can, the money will go towards making our house continue to be the best Fraternity house in Oswego!
Just so everyone will hopefully realize the continuity of efforts that have been going into the house, here are some of the projects that have occurred in the last year. In the spring semester the Gators stripped the ceilings in the Cave (first room at the top of the third floor stairs) of the plaster and lathe, and while they couldn’t finish the job due to the Covid pandemic, they did assist me over the summer with some of the efforts to get all the joists covered with new sheetrock.
2020 Summer projects
Over the summer Brother Brian Van Alstyne brought up a small crew of roofers to strip, plywood and shingle the two story part of the house. Brian also was responsible for completing the repairs on the 3-story roof two years ago. Brian consistently goes above and beyond for the house of Blue! When you see him at the 75th, make sure to buy him a beverage! Thank you Brother I really appreciate it!
We also organized a summer alumni/active work party over the weekend that was traditionally Harborfest. Covid stopped Harborfest, but it didn’t stop 12 alumni and 13 actives from coming up to scrap and prime woodwork on the house, clear brush, landscape, and build custom wood screens for 19 windows on the house. The screens continue to be an ongoing project, and the new Brothers this semester are continuing to work one window at a time.
Brothers taking a well-deserved break at the end of the day
With the 75th reunion coming up in June of 2021 we would really like the house to look as good as possible and of course be structurally sound. We believe our 75th Anniversary will be a weekend that all will remember! We had just over 200 brothers in attendance at the 70th, and we hope to have 300 Brothers in attendance for the 75th! Make your plans and room reservations now!
We’ve had Alumni brainstorm and would like to kick out the following two ideas:
1) Matching fundraiser with either matching pledging (say for instance there’s a brother who's done well over the years and would offer to match any other funds pledged up to a certain dollar amount, he can pick whatever number he’s comfortable with),
2) Pledge Levels by individual or group:
White Rose level $10,000 donation