Our origins…

The Epsilon-Sigma Chapter of Kappa Sigma traces its origins to the end of World War II, when the newly enacted “G.I. Bill” began to provide a college education for unheard of numbers of American men. Because of the huge influx of male college students, the University of Florida in Gainesville (which in 1905 had been deemed the State’s public college for men) found itself no longer able to accommodate all of those seeking higher education. So, as a solution, the legislature of the State of Florida re-organized its public university system in 1947 to make both the University of Florida in Gainesville and the Florida State College for Women in Tallahassee co-educational institutions. The name of the school in Tallahassee was therefore changed to reflect this re-organization and became the Florida State University. Once again, as in times prior to 1905 (the university in Tallahassee had previously served as a Seminary, a military academy, and a co-ed college before becoming the single-sex Florida State College for Women), men shared the Tallahassee campus with their female counterparts.

Male students are arriving at FSU…

However, the reorganization of Florida’s universities also saw an influx of many male students who had previously studied elsewhere and were now continuing their education at FSU. Such was the case with Five Initiated Brothers of Kappa Sigma who had transferred from different schools and had suddenly found themselves studying together in Tallahassee. Due to its 42-year history as a female institution, FSU had never seen the establishment of a Kappa Sigma chapter. This unfortunately meant that there was no chapter with which the Five Brothers could affiliate.
Not dismayed by this circumstance, and determined to continue to work of the Order, the Five set about bringing Kappa Sigma to the Florida State University. And like the Five Friends and Brothers of 1869, their work was cut out for them. At the time the Kappa Sigma Fraternity had no structured colony system whereby new chapters could be easily established. Instead, the Five Brothers had to prove that the newly-constituted FSU had the necessary raw materials to make a good chapter.

Finding new brothers…

To do this, the Five followed the example of McCormick and Friends, gathering together men of sturdy character who could be trusted with the responsibility of Brotherhood. With sixteen other men who had pledged their support, the Five Brothers established a “local” FSU fraternity of February 17, 1949 and called it Kappa Kappa. However, the Kappa Kappa Fraternity (whose original charter still hangs in the Epsilon-Sigma house) was modeled closely after Kappa Sigma with the intention that, one day, it would be absorbed by the larger Fraternity.

21 men strong…

The new Kappa Kappa, 21 men strong, set about its task with earnestness. The fraternity even obtained use of a house on Soupe Street at the Dale Mabry Air Field (near the area where Pensacola St. currently intersects with Appleyard Dr.) And the members were determined to prove to Kappa Sigma’s Supreme Executive Committee (SEC) that they were worthy of being named a bona fide Kappa Sigma chapter.  Impressed with its initial strength, Kappa Kappa was approached by the expanding Beta Theta Pi Fraternity and was given the opportunity to become an instant chapter of that organization. Though tempted with the possibility of so quickly becoming associated with a national fraternity, the Kappa Kappa men ultimately decided that this offer was a distraction from their overarching goal. They instead held their original course and continued to prove their worthiness to the more prestigious Kappa Sigma Fraternity.

Highest Fraternity GPA on Campus…

Before long, Kappa Kappa’s discipline had earned them the highest fraternity GPA on FSU’s campus (for three consecutive semesters) as well as acclaimed leadership positions in campus sports team and other university activities. Finally, after two years of hard work, and through the faithful lobbying efforts of FSU professor and Brother, Angus Laird, the SEC saw fit to grant Kappa Kappa status as a chapter of Kappa Sigma. On June 9th and 10th, 1951 the Kappa Kappa Fraternity was chartered and installed as the Epsilon-Sigma Chapter of Kappa Sigma. The well-deserved celebration went on for days.

The first executive committee…

With all Brothers initiated and Epsilon-Sigma functioning as a Kappa Sigma chapter, proper officers were needed. The chapter’s first Executive Committee (EC) elected in 1951 was as follows:

  • Steven Edwards, Jr. – Grand Master
  • Ken Weed – Grand Procurator
  • Walker Wood – Grand Master of Ceremonies
  • Jack Blackburn – Grand Scribe

The need for a larger Fraternity House

The newly-initiated Brothers also found that their small house on Soupe Street had become inadequate to support a growing chapter. So, not long after Epsilon-Sigma was charted in 1951, another house and the land on which it stood were purchased for the chapter by a wealthy alumnus of Kappa Sigma. This new site was 112 South Woodward Avenue, which would eventually become the center of FSU’s campus. However, as the chapter continued to expand, the Brothers found that even this second house was too small to accommodate their needs. Fundraising began in order to build a new and larger house on the same property. By 1954, enough money had been saved to demolish the existing house and begin construction on a new building. The ground breaking ceremony took place on March 10, 1954 with FSU President Doak Campbell (namesake of the FSU stadium) in attendance.

Thank you Dick Wycke…

The new house was designed especially for a Kappa Sigma chapter by alumnus Brother Dick Wycke, a specialized architect. But its special design took longer to complete than a normal house, and there were certain delays – e.g. when the builders struck hard clay while doing excavation for the basement.

December of 1955…

Finally, though, after much care, the new house was completed in December 1955. It included many modern amenities that were rare for a fraternity house of the day, such as air conditioning and a dedicated bar room. In fact, after construction, the house was celebrated by Kappa Sigma’s Caduceus magazine as being a marvel of modern chapter architecture. However, the house also included many symbolic reminders of Kappa Sigma’s history. These included a Jacob’s ladder staircase, 12 entryways – five of them commemorating the Five Friends and Brothers, a bar room dubbed Ambroselli’s, and a serpentine wall of bricks in the bar room.

The house that lasted decades…

The chapter’s house at 112 South Woodward Avenue continued to serve as the location for the Kappa Sigma Fraternity for the next 48 years. It underwent a significant remodel in 1993 which included pine wood paneling throughout, updated ceilings and A/C, and a deck (The Moon Tower) which was built on top of the trophy room. Brother Shane Nichols led another major project in 1998 that added a wooden deck in the front of the house.

The move to Heritage Grove…

In the early twenty-first century, plans were revealed for a new undertaking on the part of Florida State University’s Greek Community – Heritage Grove. Heritage Grove was designed as a luxurious apartment complex to be occupied primarily by Greeks. The chapter decided to move to heritage Grove for two main reasons; to improve the living conditions of individual brothers and to help foster a greater sense of communication and brotherhood with other fraternities. The chapter is also provided with a central building with which to conduct chapter and hold fellowship events. Epsilon-Sigma decided to reside at the fourth building at Heritage Grove, 1912. It was in the fall of 2004 that Kappa Sigma officially moved in, leaving the house at South Woodward Avenue vacant. In the fall of 2006, the house at 112 was purchased by Florida State University.

Our own house…

An opportunity to move out of Heritage Grove and into an actual house on campus came to Epsilon-Sigma in the Spring of 2014. Led by Grand Master, Garet Marr, and House Manager, Julien Brown, the undergraduate chapter brought to the alumni corporation’s attention that there was an actual house available. Through many meetings and a vigorous selection process, that included a few other fraternity chapters at Florida State, Epsilon-Sigma rose above the rest to reclaim a spot on campus. The address of 503 West Park Ave, convienently located on sorority row, has provided us with a burst of momentum to remain the best chapter on campus. Beyond the location, the house provides the chapter with a better brotherhood experience as the chapter house and the living quarters are now one. With more land and space for tailgates and hosting philanthropies, Epsilon-Sigma is looking stronger than ever. If you have not made the pilgrimage to visit the new house, you are missing out on what your legacy has become!

Recent chapter history updated and written by Brother Michael Oates (’13)
Chapter history updated by Brother Jake Whealdon (’05), written by Brother Michael Pilver (’97), based on research by Brother Stuart Pettis (’86).