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Of necessity, this history is largely based on secondary sources. The early history comes from a pledge manual prepared by Senior Dean Richard Allen in 1965.

The Fellowcraft Club

The end of World War Two brought rapid growth of the RPI student body as returning veterans used their GI Bill education benefits to attend college. Many of these new students were Masons. In the fall of 1946 several of these students met by chance at the Troy Masonic Temple. After several meetings, they began to discuss the possibility of forming a social club. At a meeting of Master Masons, lead by George Dickie, a number of fellow Masons formed the Fellowcraft Club of RPI. The Fellowcraft club met regularly as a group and visited other Capital District Masonic Lodges. Participation grew through out the school year.

In the fall of 1947 George Dickie called a reorganization meeting. At this meeting, the group elected its first set of officers. On October 14, 1947, the group was officially recognized as the Fellowcraft Club. The members elected George Dickie to be its first president. The Fellowcraft Club held regular business meetings and began to hold social activities.

Phi Mu Beta

The Fellowcraft Club prospered during the 1947-1948 academic year. As the club grew and became more active, it desired to distinguish itself from other organizations. On March 2, 1948, Harold Whitten, a charter member of the Fellowcraft Club and a brother of Sigma Phi Epsilon, introduced the members to Acacia, the Masonic Fraternity. Harold suggested that the Club investigate the possibility of forming a chapter on campus in order to leave a lasting organization that would further the ideals of the original group. It was with this idea that the Fellowcraft Club reorganized itself as Phi Mu Beta, a local fraternity.

The new fraternity, its name an abbreviation for Fellowship, Morality, and Brotherly Love, chose the following officers.

  • Venerable Dean: George Dickie
  • Senior Dean: Robert McCartney
  • Junior Dean: Lester Wilsensky
  • Senior Steward: Irvin Blancard
  • Junior Steward: Lawrence Middleton
  • Editor: Robert Anwyl
  • Treasurer: Philip Eaton
  • Secretary: Robert Rege

Phi Mu Beta functioned as a local fraternity during its period on the Rensselaer campus. It held regular meetings, pledged new members, and had a full social calendar including a bowling party, Christmas party, services projects, a raffle, and participation in intramural sports. During this period, Edgar R. Kelly, Acacia regional field secretary, assisted the fledgling chapter with the selection of suitable housing. The chapter rented a brownstone at 1932 Fifth Avenue in downtown Troy and took up residence there.

The Founding

During the 1948-1948 school year, Phi Mu Beta petitioned Acacia Fraternity for admission. The petition included a history of Pi Mu Beta, a brief history of each man to be initiated and letters from the RPI administration and RPI Inter Fraternity Council. At the beginning of March 1949, Venerable Dean George Dickie received a letter accepting Phi Mu Beta's petition and setting the weekend of April 9 and 10 for the first initiations.

The Cornell and Syracuse chapters conducted the first Rensselaer Acacia initiations at McCarthy Hall (180 Eighth Street). Sunday's initiation banquet, held at the Troy Masonic Temple, featured an address by Marion H. Huber, National Treasurer. The newly formed chapter also initiated two faculty members, Professor Arno Schubert and Dr. John B. Haney.

Once the fatigue of a busy initiation weekend faded away, the members discovered that Rensselaer Acacia was officially Rensselaer Acacia and that the date of its founding was incorrect on its shiny new charter. Local Option The fledgling chapter wasted no time in making its mark on the organization it had just joined. The chapter lead the national fraternity to allow local chapter control of the serving of alcohol in the chapter house and gave the national fraternity its flag. Here's how it happened.

In the 1950's the legal drinking age in New York State was eighteen. During this period, the Institute allowed fraternities to serve alcoholic beverages at their discretion. At the time, all of the existing Rensselaer fraternities served alcohol and Acacia Fraternity was officially a non-drinking fraternity. When Rensselaer Acacia was first founded, most of the members were World War Two veterans who had come of age during military service in a combat theater. During the two years following the founding, young high school graduates came to dominate incoming Freshman classes.

The young chapter felt that its nationally imposed dry status was a rush liability on a legally wet campus. In March 1952, the chapter wrote a letter to Acacia Fraternity's Jurisprudence Committee reporting that the chapter had adopted a resolution stating that the chapter would exercise local control over the serving alcoholic beverages in the chapter house. The chapter wrote a second letter, sent to all of the Acacia chapters, explaining that the chapter was the only dry fraternity on a wet campus and that the chapter believed this condition to be a rush liability. At the time sixty percent of the brotherhood abstained from the use of alcohol but they felt that members who did drink should be able to share a beer with a friend at the chapter house.

Acacia headquarters took no official notice of Rensselaer's actions at the 1952 conclave hoping that the issue would go away. The Rensselaer chapter wanting to talk the walk and walk the talk continued to act in a manner consistent with the member's practices. During this period several resolutions were enacted to establish regulations governing the serving of alcohol at chapter functions. At the 1954 Golden Anniversary Conclave Rensselaer introduced a motion to allow each chapter to serve alcohol as governed by its bylaws. This motion was voted down.

At the start of school in September 1954, Rensselaer wrote a letter to National and to the chapters stating that the chapter intended to serve alcohol in the chapter house. This letter provoked a flurry of responses from alumni and fellow chapters. Acacia founder Roy C. Clark even visited the chapter. In March 1955, George Patterson, National Treasurer, came to Troy to inform the chapter that its charter had been suspended until the end of the school year. At this time the fraternity also suspended the George Washington, Franklin, and Vermont chapters.

The Rensselaer chapter finally brought the issue to a successful resolution at the 1956 Conclave. Chapter advisor John Olmstead and Venerable Dean George Kyriazis successfully lead the conclave to adopt a resolution allowing each chapter to govern the use of alcohol in the chapter house. The chapter also presented a resolution to adopt the chapter's flag, designed by John Olmstead and given to the chapter in 1950, as the national fraternity's flag.

This is a living document that has just begun. We will be continuing to add to this history as time permits.


Thanks for this note go to Dick Allen, correcting some of the things we say he said/did. :-)

I appreciate the kudos in your history of Acacia, but the real credit goes to Dick Albagli. Without his help and inspiration, neither of the first two Rensselaer Acacia pledge manuals would ever have been finished.

A correction in that history. Roy C. Clark was not a founder of Acacia. He was the Executive Director of Acacia National from 1949 until about 1965 or 1966 when Harvey Logan took over as Executive Director. Roy was a good friend of mine and Harvey is still one of my best friends.

As I look back to 30 years ago, I think the greatest accomplishments of my term were :

  1. the first pledge manual for Rensselaer Acacia;
  2. the acquisition of 4 Sunset Terrace for housing, and, most importantly,
  3. Rensselaer Acacia's involvement with the black (politically incorrect [ed note: but term of the time]) issue and ritual changes on the National level.

As I see from the alumni newsletters, Rensselaer Acacia is still involved in National happenings. I urge you to continue to be involved in National issues.

Keep the website going.

Dick Allen, #207

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