Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Fasano House and Legacy

71 North Main Street, otherwise known as Alfred University Welcome Center at the Fasano House, has gone through many changes in its structure, use, and meaning. It was first constructed for William C. Burdick, a well-known Alumni, member of the Board of Trustees, and significant member of the Seventh Day Baptist Church, making him a prominent figure in his time in Alfred (Campus Map). He married Amanda Crandall Prescott in 1885, and together they brought many community members through their house through the operation of the Allegany Cheese Company and the Amandine reading club for women. After both owners passed away, their daughter sold the residence to Alfred University to be used by the well known fraternity Delta Sigma Phi.
Throughout its years as a fraternity it underwent many changes in appearance partially because it was damaged by a fire twice, in 1931 and 1981, both times destroying most of the third floor and attic (Campus Map). It also went through many minor changes as a fraternity house, including the addition of a third floor, and accommodations made to suit the Greek life. It was used by the fraternity until 2002, when the university abolished the recognition and funding of Greek organizations, except for a brief time during World War Two. At this point the women’s dormitory, the Brick, was needed for Student Army Training Corps; as a result, the women were housed at 71 North Main.
Once the Delta Sigma Phi house could no longer be recognized as a fraternity house, it was turned over to the university. Though many alumni members of the organization were at first furious, later findings in the reasons for fraternity abolition swayed them to understand (Fasano). Given that many of the prominent members of the frat owned the house for eighty some years, many former Delta Sigma Phi and alumni led efforts to raise more than half the funding needed to restore the house. A former fraternity brother and friend of Joe Fasano, Jon Tabor class of 1955, matched dollar-for-dollar all contributions made to the renovation fund (Campus Map). The house would soon become an Alumni Welcome Center, home of University Relations, and dedicated to the Fasano family.
The Fasanos have attended Alfred University for many generations; it is because of this and their contributions to the University that the house was dedicated to them. Joe Fasano, class of 1954, was a member of the Delta Sigma Phi and lived in the house. After graduating and serving in the Marine Corps, he came back to serve as alumni director, on the alumni board, and other various boards involved in the university for 56 years (Fasano). He was also inducted into the hall of fame for football. His wife, Ann Saunders Fasano, class of 1953, was also an Alfred University graduate and worked in Herrick Library until she retired. Her parents also attended Alfred University. Because the couple was so involved with the university, and their house was right down the road from the campus, they welcomed many visitors to the university into their home. They developed many personal relationships with prominent university affiliates as well as visitors. Their son, Patrick Fasano, grew up in Alfred, graduated in 1980 from the University for ceramic engineering, and lived in the Delta Sigma Phi house as well. He passed away in 1994 leaving behind a wife two children, one of which, Elizabeth Fasano, is currently a junior at Alfred University. The front room of the house, the Patrick Allen Fasano Room, is dedicated to him and his family. A stained glass window and plaque stand for his wife and each of his children in the room.
The reconstruction of the Fasano House was based on the original Burdick residence. Initially, the house was created in the Eastlake style, complete with geometric cross gabled roof and dormers (Campus Map). This style was similar to the Queen Ann style of the Victorian era. Well known restoration architect, Elizabeth Corbin Murphy, worked with interior designer Vivian Hyde of Alfred “to uncover and recreate the original architectural details, including intricately carved woodwork, stained glass and raised plaster decorations on the wall” (Campus Map). They removed layers of paint and wallpaper to determine original color schemes to restore the exterior of the building and the first floor restored to their original Victorian fashion. Many community members helped with the efforts, including Joe Fasano himself who laved much of the woodwork, carving from photographs and existing reliefs (Fasano).

Campus Map. Alfred University Welcome Center at the Fasano House. 2007. Alfred University. March 19, 2010

Fasano, Elizabeth. Personal Interview. March 19, 2010.


  1. This blog would be a great addition for team Tortuga’s map on transformation. The building its self went under both physical transformations throughout the years as well as transformations on its uses socially. When was the house built? What caused the fires in 1931 and 1981?

  2. fires were caused in 1931 by a painter. he'd left some heating machine on or wiring exposed and the top floor was destroyed. The second fire was deemed electrical problems. this time the top two floors were destoyed

  3. I think more pictures of how the house was originally, how it was as a fraternity and maybe some photos of the restoration process would add to the well researched article. Some historical photos might be found in Hinkle or Herrick's historical archives.