TKE Beta Pi History
1960s - The Teke Village
Fraters set to work repairing and improving the properties - a task that was never to end as long as the buildings were occupied. The wall between the two front rooms of the White House was removed to make a larger room for meetings, parties, and dinners. A covered path of concrete and brick was built between the two houses. In the Brick House, a new door was created opening to the breezeway from the White House and, on the upper floor, a corridor was created by knocking out all the existing closets, which were conveniently lined up. There was one bath upstairs, one downstairs, and no private showers. The basement of the Brick House was mostly unfinished and was used for storage. Most of the back yard was paved with concrete to serve as a basketball court and patio for parties. The Brick House apartment on the first floor facing 5th Street remained separate and was designated the House Mother's Apartment. It was occupied by Mrs. Lomie "the Jet" Jetton, the chapter's first house mother.
Bill Eisenhauer, a co-op student who remained in Atlanta during Summer quarter, wanted the Chapter to sponsor activities during the Summer. However, so few members normally remained during that quarter that it was not practical. This was the case in all the fraternities. Recognizing an opportunity, in Spring 1960, the Chapter voted to give the members present during the Summer the full powers of the chapter. Beta Pi became a four quarter fraternity - the first at Georgia Tech. Members would pay dues, meetings would be held, and votes taken during the Summer would be as binding as those taken during the regular school year. This made particular sense at Georgia Tech because of the co-op program, which placed many students in school during Summers. Having members who needed housing during the Summer and Winter balanced the temporary loss of those that left to work out of town during those quarters.
In November 1960, a new heating system was installed in the Brick House and the Chapter and BOC decided to borrow money to build a kitchen in the White House. The northwest room on the first floor was remodeled to become the kitchen and the northeast room became a dining room. A closet between the two rooms became a serving and washing area and a pantry was created when the small back porch was enclosed. The dining room would only seat thirty people but by setting up tables at dinner time in the adjacent living room and serving in two shifts, everyone could eat. Food was brought from the kitchen by pledges and served family style. A cook was hired for $35 per week and lunches and dinners were served Monday through Saturday. To ensure that the kitchen could serve enough meals to make a profit, the meal plan was made mandatory for all single members. An advance deposit system was created to make sure that bills were paid on time. Within a few months, the kitchen had paid returned the chapter's initial investment. The operation of our own meal plan brought the chapter together daily for the first time, strengthening the organization and helping lead to a period of growth and expansion.
The Chapter's cook for much of this time was Myrtle "the fertile turtle", who resembled "Mammy" from Gone with the Wind. She was renowned for the excellent taste of her meals. She cooked her vegetables until every vitamin had fled. Frying was her preferred method of preparation and it was rumored that she was the only person in the world who could deep fry Jello. Her dessert cake was so rich that it was called "ton cake" and no one could eat more than one.
Despite its two houses, the Chapter needed still more room. In Spring 1962, the Board began to look seriously at buying the Pike house at 828 Techwood Drive - just north of the two Teke houses. Pike wanted $23,000 for the property and TKE was willing to pay only $18,000. In November 1962, the price of $18,500 was agreed upon and the BOT bought what became known as the North House. Three committees of undergrads were appointed to create separate proposals for modifying the newly acquired space to meet the Chapter's needs.
The North House could be entered through the main floor from Techwood Drive or through the basement from the TKE patio. Tekes demolished a three story frame addition that the Pikes had long ago built onto the back of the house to increase its housing capacity. The old structure was replaced by a new one built of cinder blocks at the basement level and prefabricated framing on the main floor level. Construction was done by ten Tekes who stayed in Atlanta during the break between Winter and Spring quarters. The kitchen was moved into the new addition. During Spring and Summer, further renovations were done by the Chapter. Another new room was added, four walls, including two load-bearing walls, were removed, and a steel beam placed to support the upper floor. This beam was carried onto the property and placed by hand (at least twenty pairs). This created a large combination dining-chapter-party room. The basement was also used for parties. TKE's three houses could sleep forty-five men and, together, became known as The Teke Village.
Although the chapter worked hard to improve its houses, rearranging interior spaces and digging out and finishing basements, maintenance was always a problem. Everyone realized that, eventually, the old building would have to be replaced. The hope of better facilities was always with the chapter.