St. Anthony Hall
St. Anthony Hall, better known as St. A's is a national organization that was founded at Columbia in 1847 and has since established chapters at elite universities around the country. It has the Greek letter designation Delta Psi. As Columbia's was the first chapter of the organization, it is known as the Alpha Chapter.
It is best described as half fraternity, half literary society. Though secretive, the organization is known for its formalwear parties, and rumors of cocaine use abound. Perhaps their best-kept secret is that their parties are pretty much the same as all other Columbia parties.
St. A's was first founded at Columbia on January 17, 1847, the feast day of St. Anthony. It did not have a home of its own until 1879, when the first St. A's house opened. It is still standing at 29 E. 28th St. and was designed by the firm of Columbia College alum James Renwick, Jr. (Recent research indicates the building itself may have been designed by William Hamilton Russell, graduate of the School of Mines (now SEAS) and a former member of St. A's.)
According to the New York Times, "old photographs show a high stoop arrangement with the figure of an owl on the peeked roof and a plaque with the Greek letters Delta Psi over the windowless chapter room. In 1879 the New York Tribune called it French Renaissance, but the stumpy pilasters and blocky detailing suggest the Neo-Grec style then near the end of its popularity." A late 19th century newspaper account dubbed the building a "perfect Bijou of tasteful decoration"
The present house on Riverside Drive was built in 1899, just after Columbia's move to Morningside Heights, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was designed by Henry Hornbostel, an 1891 alum and former St. A's member who had gone on to study at Paris' Ecole des Beaux Arts. The former house was kept for a few years as a club for members from all chapters. From 1904 to 1990, a purpose-built St. Anthony's Club also operated for members of all branches of the society in an E. 64th St. townhouse.
- Overheard outside the window at Saint A's: "These scones are life-changing!"
- Brothers of Pi Kappa Alpha once snuck a homeless person into one of the St. A's parties, claiming that the man was a professor of East African studies. He was able to stay long enough to get one drink before members of St. Anthony Hall ejected him.
- At a St. A's party, one member declared, "Who are all these people. Make everybody leave." He must have had some clout, because everybody did.
- St. A's are known for sending "fake invitations" to recruits who have no hope of getting in. Most notably foreigners and overweight people, these "fake pledges" receive the brunt of the hazing with no hope of entrance.
- It is rumored that St. A's has a pool in its basement. Passerbys have seen members with towels and bathing suits talking in their front room.
- Rumors exist that, in the past, members dropped objects or liquids on passersby, who may have been racial minorities passing by the house (allegations of past racism, however, should be tempered by the fact that at least one society president has been black)
St. A's in pop culture
- "Hamilton House", the secret society to which the characters on the show Gossip Girl belong, is modeled after St. Anthony Hall. The membership was asked, but would not allow the show to film inside the society's house.
- The cover of Vampire Weekend's first album shows the chandelier at the club's Columbia house.
- Tinsley Mortimer CC '98 - New York socialite
- Eric Garcetti CC '92 - Mayor of Los Angeles
- Stewart Woodford CC 1854 - nearly the Republican Vice Presidential candidate