The Oaks was built in the mid-nineteenth century (the exact year cannot be known since many Delaware City records were lost in a devastating fire) as a home for Martha Sanborn and her three children; Anna Marie, Amelia, and Benjamin - all of whom attended Ohio Wesleyan University. Martha died in 1907, allegedly after falling down the spiral staircase. Anna - the only surviving Sanborn child - donated $53,000 to build Sanborn Hall in her mother's memory, a memorial which still stands today and houses OWU's music departments.
Soon after, Anna Sanborn sold the house to a local family before two members of the newly formed Alpha-Chi Chapter, Karl and Russel Kissner, asked their parents to purchase The Oaks for Chi Phi. A thirty-year loan was given to the Chapter by the Kissner family, on which they never charged interest, and the Chapter took up residence in the fall of 1912. The final payment on the mortgage was not made until 1945.
In the 1950's, Oliver Cromwell Williams, an Alpha-Chi (then Chi) Chapter Alumnus of 1876, donated a plot of land on the residential side of Ohio Wesleyan to build new fraternity houses. While many fraternities on campus jumped at the chance to get a new house, the Brothers of Alpha-Chi found the decision to leave The Oaks too divisive and chose to stay. Instead, an addition was made to the south side of the house and the third floor was renovated.
After the alumni chose to disband the chapter in 1971, the house was used to room seventeen women and was called the Performing Arts House. When the Chapter was re-established in 1974, the Brotherhood moved back in.
The Oaks has been the home of the Alpha-Chi chapter for over 100 years - the only fraternity at Ohio Wesleyan hold their house for such a length of time.