Prior to Xi Chapter’s present house at 600 Preston Place, the fraternity occupied a number of different houses or rooms leased from the University and private landlords. In 1941, Xi Chapter moved into the first house that it owned. Located at 1810 Carr’s Hill Road, the house was subject to a 99-year ground lease with the University.
In late 1966 or early 1967 with some 73 years still remaining on the ground lease, the University informed Xi’s alumni corporation that it was building a Fine Arts center on the Carr’s Hill property and therefore was terminating the fraternity’s lease. I, as chapter president, and two alumni corporation members, James E. Palmer ’39 and Hovey S. Dabney ’46, embarked on an urgent search for a new house. Brother Palmer was then president of the alumni corporation and had helped to negotiate the ground lease for the Carr’s Hill house. Brother Dabney was a University Rector, member of the Board of Visitors, and prominent Charlottesville banker.
The three of us, with the assistance of a local real estate agent, looked at several potential properties. We were limited financially because the alumni corporation’s only asset was the lease termination payment by the University. We were further limited in that there weren’t many properties for sale that were within walking distance of the University. I was particularly concerned about being so far away from the dorms that it would adversely affect rush. A couple of houses that the agent wanted to show us were so unsuitable that we didn’t even go inside. We did seriously consider a white frame house located across the street from 600 Preston Place. It was owned by the Spicer family and rented apartments to University students. We judged 600 Preston Place to be a better choice, largely because of its brick construction and room layout that was more suitable for a fraternity.
During the summer of 1968, using compensation paid by the University for termination of the Carr’s Hill lease and with bank financing facilitated by brother Dabney, the alumni corporation purchased Xi’s present location at 600 Preston Place for $47,000.
The rest is, as they say, history.
Bill Sullivan ‘67