The Peter and Margaret de Wetter Center
The Peter and Margaret de Wetter Center serves as a "home away from home" for UTEP's over 80,000 alumni, the UTEP Alumni Association, and the Alumni Relations staff. This charmingly rustic building, built in 1941, was the original house of the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority before it became the University’s Administrative Annex in 1969.
In 1998, the building was dedicated to Peter and Margaret de Wetter, in tribute to their generous spirit & lasting legacy. He was a former mayor of El Paso and “Mardee,” as she is known to her friends, is one of the original sorority sisters whose names are engraved in the stone fireplace that still stands today.
The building is open from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on weekdays, and for special alumni or University events on evenings and weekends. To visit, or for more information, contact the Office of Alumni Relations today!
Margaret "Mardee" de Wetter's name can be found amongst the original Zetas whose names adorn the fireplace from the years 1939 to 1943.
Deep blue glass shards rim the surrounding walls of the outdoor patio. Some say it was to keep rowdy boys out, but others say it was to keep the girls from sneaking out!
The de Wetter Center, also referred to as the Alumni Lodge, used to glisten during the holidays when the Season of Lights was a tradition at the University from 1992 to 2008.
Every decade, spring is in the air and flowers are blooming when the time capsule is opened and rededicated by the Student Alumni Association.
During the of winter 2009, we were lucky enough to receive a white winter in the middle of the desert!
- The two-story building of whitewashed rock was designed by Mrs. Mabel Welch with a Southwestern motif, including Mexican tile accents in the garden walls and vigas, which are thick wooden poles that offer both support and decoration.
- The Zeta “house” had a large room with a wooden, parquet floor, exposed ceiling beams, a stone fireplace, and screen doors leading to an open back porch. Upstairs, there was a large formal parlor with a fireplace, a kitchen, and the porch roof served as a sun deck.
- During the early 1950s, the porch and sun deck were enclosed and sliding glass doors were added to create an entry to the back garden. The upstairs was modified into two large rooms for entertaining, the kitchen was extended to the rear of the building, and storage space was added beneath it.
- To record their accomplishments, the Zetas had a tradition of carving their names into the house. The names of the young women who were members when the lodge was built were etched in polished colored stones that decorate the fireplace hearth.
- The sorority also carved the names of their graduates on the inside of the front door, and later on the beams at the east end of the room downstairs.
- The University acquired the building in 1969 and the Zetas moved to a new house on Schuster Avenue. They took the door with them, and continue to use it to this day. It was later slightly modified in 1974 to be more efficiently used as an office.
- UTEP alumni were both the architect, Phillip Mack Caldwell, and the prime contractor, Frank Alderete, for the building’s final $215,000 renovation project in 1984, which was granted by the UT System.
- As part of this renovation, the suspended ceiling was removed to expose the downstairs wooden beams, and the parquet floor was refinished. The porch then became a serving area and reception room for alumni gatherings, and offices were created in the upper level. The garden received a new brick floor throughout the patio and new landscaping. It was later slightly modified in 1974 to be more efficiently used as an office.