The story of the founding of Alpha Chapter is also that of the beginning of Alpha Phi International Fraternity. From the first expression of their mutual need for “a circle of friends who could sympathize with one another,” our Founders envisioned that the circle would embrace far flung campuses. Among those 20 women entering Syracuse in the fall of 1872, there were six freshmen, three sophomores and a junior who became the Founders of Alpha Phi. They were the Original Ten.
These Syracuse University women believed that their idea of a women's fraternity was original and that theirs would be the first college women's society. They were unaware that the same idea had occurred to four women at DePauw who founded Kappa Alpha Theta in January of 1870. Three months later the four founders of Kappa Kappa Gamma at Monmouth College in Illinois likewise believed themselves the originators of the first Greek letter college women's fraternity. While not the first women’s fraternity, Alpha Phi provided a sense of community , respect and camaraderie for its members, much as it continues to do today. On September 30, 1872 at the home of Ida Gilbert, with a ritual, symbols and a pledge, The Original Ten founded Alpha of Alpha Phi.
For twelve years, the members of Alpha Chapter used a suite of rooms in which to have their meetings. Then, in 1884 Alpha moved to a rented house near the university. In 1886, they purchased land with the intention of building a house. They secured a first mortgage from a bank and an Alpha Phi father lent them money for a second mortgage. A contractor was hired and in January 1887, the members dedicated their new chapter house. For years to come Baird's Manual held Alpha Phi in high regard because they had financed the first chapter house and were in possession of real property at a time where that was less common for women.