Frat Row

Title

Frat Row

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Description

“Frat Row” was a staple of the University’s Greek Life. The houses at 401, 395, 389, 387, 385 North Pleasant Street and the Theta Chi and Phi Sig fraternity houses became what the students coined “Frat Row.” To the students, Frat Row was known as the place to be on the weekends. To the administration, Frat Row was a constant reminder of the “zoomass” party image attached to the university.

In 1885, the strip of North Pleasant Street that came to be known as Frat Row was owned by a small private school named Mount Pleasant Seminary. The school owned all of the land between East Pleasant Street and North Pleasant Street. But shortly after the Civil War, the Seminary went out of business and put the strips of land up for sale.

In the 1890s and through 1905, professors from the Massachusetts Agricultural College bought land from the seminary in order to build houses for their own personal use. The resulting five houses were constantly used for small amounts of time in the year and with the downward spiral of the economy during The Great Depression, the professors who owned the land decided to rent out the five houses to fraternities and sororities. This was the beginning of Frat Row.

Alpha Tau Gamma (ATG), one of the original fraternities that rented from the professors, established themselves as a non-profit corporation in the late 1930s. In the beginning of 1940, ATG bought 375 North Pleasant Street from the professors and began renting it out to fraternities and sororities of their own choosing. In 1969, ATG bought 387 North Pleasant Street. In 1970, ATG bought their third house at 401 North Pleasant Street. In 1976, ATG took their investment even further and bought the strip of land that connected 386 North Pleasant to 401, which solidified the stretch of land as Frat Row. To further their dominance over North Pleasant Street, ATG bought houses 389 and 395 in the years 1985 and 1987.

Throughout the years, the administration became more and more frustrated with Frat Row and the constant chaos that occurred on the property on the weekends. Over and over again the administration tried to find ways to demolish the buildings, but every attempt failed. All of the houses were at least 80 years old and were grandfathered in before a zoning bylaw banned houses in that area. The only way for the administration to get rid of Frat Row was to negotiate buying the houses from ATG.

The houses became more and more vacant between semesters, and in the early 2000s ATG began negotiations to sell the properties to the university. In 2006, ATG finally settled with the administration to sell all of their property for 2.5 million dollars. The deal went through, and in 2006, the university demolished the empty houses at 375, 387, 389, 395, and 401 North Pleasant Street.

As for ATG, the fraternity donated $500,001 of the money they received from the sale to the Stockbridge School of Agriculture at UMass to establish an endowed professorship for the position of the director of the school. The professorship is called the ATG Fred. P Jeffery Chair, which is named after the school’s former director who passed away in 1997.

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UMass Special Collections and University Archives

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Files

ThetaChi.png
FratRow.png
FratRow1.png
Date Added
December 5, 2012
Collection
North Pleasant Street
Item Type
Still Image
Citation
“Frat Row,” Lost UMass, accessed November 24, 2017, http://lostumass.omeka.net/items/show/66.