Inside Rensselaer
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Phi Sigma Kappa Fraternity Moves Into Former Church

Several members of the Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity have officially moved into a distinctive and historic new home. In February, the fraternity officially took ownership of the former St. Francis DeSales Church and rectory on Congress Street in the City of Troy. The fraternity, which currently consists of 17 student members and more than 700 alumni, finalized the purchase of the buildings from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany after the sale was approved by the City of Troy Zoning and Planning Boards last fall.

The buildings are owned and managed by the Phi Sigma Kappa Alumni Association of Troy, which is responsible for providing safe, affordable, quality housing to its student members. According to Paul Marano ’87, president of the alumni association, during the spring semester a few students moved into the buildings to address maintenance and security issues as they arose. They also helped to oversee modifications approved by the site plan that supports shared use of the church building with the community.

“We are very excited about the move,” said Justin Adibi, chapter president. “We are looking forward to meeting our new neighbors and making positive contributions to the quality of life for all who live and work in the Congress Street/Mount Ida neighborhood.”

Nestled in the midst of residential buildings and local businesses, St. Francis, with its lancet windows and large rose window at the facade, is most closely associated with the Gothic style, according to Michael Lopez, M.S. ’01, a preservationist at the nonprofit Troy Architectural Program (TAP). “However, I see hints, and others might disagree, of other styles. Some of the brick masonry ornamentation, with its effect of fluidity and movement, suggest Queen Anne touches, and the squatness of the building to me speaks a bit to the Romanesque. The altar is a modern design, perhaps from the 1960s or 1970s.”

Over the last seven months, the fraternity worked with TAP and Bennett Contracting to make improvements such as new eco-friendly bathrooms consisting of low-flow fixtures and energy-efficient lighting, a 98 percent efficient hot water system equipped with a wastewater heat recovery system, upgraded electrical and plumbing systems, and a state-of-the art fire alarm system.

As part of their first community service project, the fraternity plans to partner with the Alley Improvement Project this fall to clean up the alley adjacent to the Prospect Park ball fields. Additional plans include funding the launch of a $50,000 community development micro grant program that would provide grants of up to $1,000 per applicant to residents, property owners, not-for-profits, and community organizations living within the Congress Street/Mount Ida neighborhoods.

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Inside Rensselaer, Strategic Communications and External Relations
1000 Troy Building, 110 Eighth Street, Troy, N.Y. 12180 or to leibat@rpi.edu.
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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 5, Number 17, November 4, 2011
©2011 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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