Our chapter, Omega, at Iowa State University is Gamma Phi Beta's 24th oldest. In 1913, a group of women at Iowa State College joined together to form a local sorority called Zeta Iota. As their friendships became stronger, the group sought official recognition from a national sorority. In 1917 the group petitioned the national organization of Gamma Phi Beta, but because of World War I, their petition was delayed. Finally, in July 1918 the national office accepted their petition. However, before they could continue with their chapter’s installation, the flu epidemic of 1918 broke out on Iowa State’s campus and the women had to again postpone their plans because the campus was in quarantine. Finally, on December 21, 1918, the Omega Chapter of Gamma Phi Beta was installed at Iowa State.
Twenty-one members immediately began to work on building a new house on Pearson Avenue in late 1918. As a local sorority, the women had been living in a house at 2228 Lincoln Way. The house, remembered Florence Browne Quist, had no yard or landscaping. Built below street level, the basement usually filled with puddles of water when it rained. Because of all the water in their home, the girls received the name “Swamp Angels.” In addition, the members enjoyed the many dances Zeta Iota held in their home. The men wore suits and the women wore long party dresses, and dancers exchanged partners throughout the night.
The current chapter house, at 318 Pearson Ave, was built in 1925 in a Tudor style. An addition to the south was added in 1963 and a second addition was added in 1992. The beautiful red brick house is located just minutes from Jack Trice Stadium.
Gamma Phi Beta's original home on 318 Pearson: