Belleville News Democrat
April 11, 2004

Fraternity spruces up grounds of historic Stephenson House
By Brian Brueggeman

EDWARDSVILLE - Yard work usually isn't on the minds of college fraternity members on Saturday morning.
But members and alumni of the Sigma Phi Epsilon chapter at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville got up early to provide muscle for landscape work at their former fraternity house, the historic Stephenson House.
About a dozen men dug holes for fruit trees and winterberries, removed dead evergreens, transplanted other evergreens, scraped dirt from a sidewalk, and raked and bagged leaves.
Cliff Kinnunen, president of the fraternity chapter's alumni board, said the men jumped at the chance to help with work at the house where fraternity members resided from 1982 to 1999. It was the first house for a fraternity at SIUE.
"Being the first fraternity with a house had prestige with it," Kinnunen said. "This is part of the fraternity's history."
In 1999, the city bought the house, which was built in 1820 by Col. Benjamin Stephenson and is the oldest brick home in Madison County. The house, at 409 Buchanan St., is on the National register of Historic Places and is being restored to be a tour house.
Karen Mateyka, a board member of the Friends of Col. Benjamin Stephenson House, said she hope the tour house will be open this fall.
"It's a matter of money," Mateyka said. "We're working on different event to earn money, and of course, looking for donations."
The exterior work is about complete. Remaining interior work includes plastering and installation of wood floors.
For more information, including how to make a donation, call 656-0888, or go online at