The Phoenix – S K Club
The Phoenix – S K Club is one of six male final clubs at Harvard College, which traces its earliest roots to 1895. It consists of an undergraduate body of male upperclassmen at Harvard College who are not members of any other Final Club and alumni members. It is a body which has resulted from the amalgamation and reorganization of various individual clubs; namely the Sphinx, Kalumet, SK, and Phoenix Clubs. The Phoenix – S K is currently located at 72 Mt. Auburn Street in Cambridge near Harvard Square, which is a property protected by the Cambridge Historical Commission.
The Sphinx Club grew out of a small secret society founded in 1897. Originally known by several names, in 1900, almost all the members of this organization joined together in forming the Sphinx Club, located at 1172 Massachusetts Avenue, then 55 Mt. Auburn Street. In 1903 the Club moved to 72 Mt. Auburn Street, the current site of the Phoenix – S K Club.
The Kalumet Club was started by members of the Harvard chapter of Beta Theta Pi, many in the class of 1900, and occupied a small house on the current Harvard Lampoon building site on Mt. Auburn Street. In 1900, the Club was formally organized as the Kalumet Club, and moved to 1178 Massachusetts Avenue. In 1901 it moved to 104 Mt. Auburn Street, then three years later it moved again to 44 Church Street, where it remained until its amalgamation with the Sphinx in 1914.
The adoption of the Inter-Club Agreement and other conditions made the union of these two Clubs desirable, so in 1914, members of both clubs voted that their undergraduate memberships should both join the new S K Club. Construction was begun on a new club house on the site of the Sphinx house at 72 Mt. Auburn Street, and the Kalumet house was employed in the meantime. The new building formally opened on April 1, 1916.
The Phoenix Club was started in 1902 by a group of men who were members of the national sophomore society, Theta Nu Epsilon. The Alpha Eta Chapter of Theta Nu Epsilon was chartered in 1895. The members of T.N.E. organized the Phoenix Club for residential and dining purposes, yet still maintained ties as the Alpha Eta Chapter to the rest of the society until 1913 when there was a division of that society. It is not known when members of the Phoenix Club ceased to meet as members of Theta Nu Epsilon. Starting in 1902, the Phoenix Club occupied a series of houses, starting with the John Hicks House at 64 Dunster Street, then in 1906 it moved to 97 Mt. Auburn Street, then in 1920 it moved again to the northeast corner of Winthrop and Holyoke Streets.
In 1925, negotiations for the amalgamation of the Phoenix and the S K were started, and in January 1925, undergraduate bodies of both clubs voted their approval. A new club, the Phoenix – S K, was formed, which occupied the S K Club house at 72 Mt. Auburn Street. With time, due to changing conditions within the university, it became advantageous for the Phoenix – S K to be classified as a final club, so on May 24, 1930, the Club became final.
The Accidental Billionaires, a 2009 novel by Ben Mezrich based on the founding of Facebook, references the Phoenix – S K Club punch process that Eduardo Saverin (member) participated in and Mark Zuckerberg witnessed in their sophomore years at Harvard. The novel was adapted into a major motion picture, The Social Network, which was released on October 1, 2010.
In 2003, the Phoenix – S K Club was investigated for animal cruelty in association with initiation rituals involving raising chickens and their potential torture, but a conclusion was never reached. The Social Network fictionally suggested that the cruelty involved animal cannibalism.
- Tisch, Jessica, "History final: The story and lore of Harvard's unique social organizations", The Harvard Independent, November 29, 2001 (archived 2007)
- Cambridge Historical Commission, "City of Cambridge, Landmarks and Other Protected Properties", 2009.
- Morse, William Gibbons (1941). Pardon my Harvard Accent. Morse Farrar & Rinehart. Page 294. Also reference in: Shepardson, Francis W. (1930). The Story of Beta Theta Pi. George Banta Publishing Co. Page 123.
- Morris, Laura A., "Phoenix Accused Of Animal Cruelty", The Harvard Crimson, Monday, December 08, 2003