Restoration Blog Three
“Is language the adequate expression of all realities?”
Words, words, and more words cannot express the reawakening architectural beauty of The Castle. It is, for all of us, a “joy in labor.” After years of considerable architectural distress, it is wonderful to see The Castle begin to shine again due to the detailed restorative work. The architectural vital signs continue to be good, and nothing is being sidestepped in this process. I know that the pictorial sequence of architectural progressions has made all of us smile, and then smile again at the thought of walking through the front door very soon to see the unsurpassable gift of The Castle that has graced our linked fraternal lives for ninety-three years. And, happily, and far more importantly, it will continue to be inviting, comfortable, warm, dignified, and life-ennobling for many young men for many years to come. We will continue to deliver on our fraternal promise because we have a winning fraternal history. And, I dare say, words will escape the young men coming to The Castle this fall during the rush period because its cohesive charm will capture their attention. It will have a great home feeling that will make them feel at home. Many of them will enter a new stage in their life and become brothers, and they will live life to the full, each in their own way, and they will collectively learn to take an active, responsible role to maintain the renewed architectural grace of The Castle, every square inch. Enjoyment, service, and reverence have been and remain the integral modus vivendi in our fraternal heritage since our founding. Many years have gone by since The Castle was gifted to Cecil Cutts, Harlord Frost, Robert Haskell, Donald MacLean, Ernest Ridlon, and Cuthbert Wilson, to name a few, but the joy of living in The Castle was gifted to all Omega Mu brothers who would follow them, and it will continue to be a gift for generations to come. This gift “has been documented, evaluated and considered worthy of preservation and protection as part of the country’s cultural heritage.” Not surprisingly, all Omega Mu Fijis appreciate that distinction: “part of the country’s cultural heritage.” It is perfectly clear to us.
It is wonderful to see The Castle begin to architecturally shine again, to be reawakened, and we will get to the end. Through periods of good and ill, The Castle has stood her ground at 79 College Avenue for the common good of our Omega Mu brotherhood since 1925. It has been our fraternal water of life that gives throughout our entire life. As we go into our 120th year as Phi Gamma Delta, it is a great feeling to be part of the oldest historically linked fraternal brotherhood at the University of Maine since 1874; and second, to be forever linked with the best-known and architecturally pleasing fraternity house at the University of Maine. Truly, being an Omega Mu Fiji is the finest of “both-and” for life. We cherish both.
“What a fellowship, what a joy divine….”
The what, why, when, where, and who in our fraternal history is always important, as it is in any study of history. Graduate and undergraduate brothers were at 79 College Avenue throughout the entire year when The Castle was being built in 1924-1925. It does not take superhuman effort to achieve success. On the contrary, many hands make light work. From architectural conception in design and building execution, they were a fraternally stout presence in seeing the entire process through with enthusiasm. We have the same fraternal ardor, wisdom, and commitment now to see The Castle beautifully restored, and it is gratifying to see all the photos and know that we are architecturally succeeding in restoring our elegant, dynamic home. We have pride in our past and faith in our enduring future.
“What life have you if you have not life together…”
The energy and momentum of the restoration process is optimistic. As the well-organized restoration work proceeds, architectural sensitivity will continue be given to every architectural and aesthetic detail, including Persian rugs, leather furniture, wrought iron light fixtures, beautiful art work, restoring the library so that it is clean, bright, beautiful, and functional, and returning Buffalo Bill above the fireplace in the living room. Historical fact-checking has guided the entire process. The architectural distinction of The Castle is coming back, decidedly. All of this work makes me smile, and I know you share that feeling. And, more to the point, we have every confidence that we will successfully achieve all of our restoration goals for The Castle. We will get there; that is the essence of our fraternal narrative since 1874: sustaining excellence.
This is a sweet moment in our history, a triumph, and I believe we will all be initially speechless when we go from room-to-room seeing everything, and then there will be many smiles of gratitude and praise for having restored The Castle to her architectural glory. It will capture our attention when we walk through the front door this fall and next April. I, for one, am looking forward to it. Our fraternal homes is cherished and honored by every brother that has lived within its walls. We were, we are, and we will continue to be the signature fraternal brotherhood at the University of Maine. The brothers from 1924-1925 would be pleased with us: historic cohesion. The Castle will be loved and honored as our historic brotherhood continues to move forward, seamlessly wedding past historic memory with future fraternal certainty. Words and more words; I could go, but the powerful visual words of the pictures speak for themselves for all the restorative work that is being accomplished with devoted attention to detail. The Castle is beginning to shine, Omega Mu Fijis, and we continue on in proud brotherhood.
Chip Chapman, 82
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