Sigma Nu Houses

Sigma Nu Epsilon Eta Chapter
The University of Tennessee

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Past to Present

House #1 1921-1923

110 West Clinch

Sigma Nu House #1

The Chapter House is a short distance from the university campus, located on two car-lines, and also near the business district of the city. It was leased for this year only, as it was thought that the fraternity might be able to find a more adequate house for next year. A building fund has been started and the fraternity plans to buy a house within the next few years. (Source---page 13, petition for charter as Sigma Nu Fraternity, March 1921)

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House #2 1923-1925

718 Cumberland

Sigma Nu House #2

There have been a lot of houses in our history. Don't forget 718 West Cumberland Avenue, a brick house offered to us at $7,900, but required $1,500 in cash. We talked him into accepting $300 in cash, and I signed the note, labeling myself the "EC." I still don't know whether I was personally liable or note. (Source---Notes from Congressman Howard H. Baker (EH # 6)speech on the 40th anniversary of Epsilon Eta at the C'est Bon Country Club, May 12, 1962)

In the Fall of 1923 the chapter moved into this house and after furnishing it nicely discovered it to be inadequate in many ways. It was a makeshift at best and of very poor construction. It can be added in its defense that it furnished suitable dormitory and study space and housed the chapter for a period when there were no desirable properties for sale at a reasonable figure. (Source---Document titled "Outline of the History of Epsilon Eta Chapter of Sigma Nu," prepared by George Brett Shaeffer, EH # 43)

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House #3 1925-1943

720 West Hill

Sigma Nu House #3

The chapter found one of the most beautiful residences in Knoxville for sale and entered negotiations with the owner. By the skillful arrangement made by Brother C. G. Walker who is really a financial wizard on chapter affairs this house was purchased and is now the home and property of Epsilon Eta Chapter. Many say that it cannot be equaled by any other fraternity property in the South at least. It is beautiful from its massive trees in the front lawn to the beautiful tile sun parlor overlooking the picturesque Tennessee River in the back. Its beauty is only eclipsed by its utility which is unlimited. In this beautiful house the chapter now lives and prospers. (Source---Document titled “Outline of the History of Epsilon Eta Chapter of Sigma Nu,” prepared by George Brett Shaeffer, EH # 43)

In the summer of 1924 bursting with both pride and energy, Epsilon Eta of Sigma Nu decided to move from the inadequate house at 718 Cumberland to 720 West Hill, “the biggest and best furnished fraternity house at the University of Tennessee in the most desirable residential section of Knoxville.” A flower bed was dug in the front of the chapter house and flowers planted in black and gold to spell the Greek letters of Sigma Nu. To this day (1968) the Greek letters of Sigma Nu appear every year with the arrival of spring. (Source---“The History of Epsilon Eta, 1919-1968,” prepared by Albert W. Lewis, EN 797)

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Years 1943 - 1946

In 1943, the year that Al Hust was captain of the Volunteers, over forty members and pledges were inducted into the armed services from Epsilon Eta. Dining room operations were the first cutback made at Epsilon Eta due to the war. Later the house was put up for sale to cancel debt that had accumulated and to establish a reserve toward buying a new house in a better location after the war. In 1944, Epsilon Eta was still operating with no house and only six brothers. There were no pledges and no commander. By 1945 there were still some brothers in school, but they conceded that for all practical purposes Epsilon Eta had been dormant since the spring of 1943. (Source---“The History of Epsilon Eta, 1919-1968,” prepared by Albert W. Lewis, EN 797)

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House #4 1947-1953

907 South 17th Street

Sigma Nu House #4

After being dormant during the war years, the Sigma Nu chapter at Tennessee was recently reactivated. We experienced some difficulty in obtaining our house, but, because of some timely support from the alumni, we are now well situated, and are working toward our prewar position as one of the leading fraternities on campus. The house has just been through an extensive redecorating program with special emphasis placed on the ground floor. All of the painting, as well as the cleaning and scrubbing, was done by the members who applied themselves wholeheartedly. Because of this participation by all, the Chapter has gained more than just a better house. This work and the new furniture in addition to the leadership of Commander Dell has enabled us to open the house with a successful rushing reason. A total of 30 outstanding men have been pledged. (Source---The Delta, December 1946 By J. Alan Wright, Reporter)

The chapter started the 1947-1948 college year with two tangible results of is expansion program—a redecorated chapter house and a good pledge class. With the Chapter officially closed during the summer vacation, several “towns” brothers pitched in and gave the old brick house at 907 South 17th Street a “new look” inside. Although the condition of the once-famous Knoxville mansion had not been improved any by use as a boarding house in wartime and subsequent use by another Greek outfit, the Sigma Nus transformed its interior to a friendly, light, and colorful home. Members of the “detail” were J. Thomas Haynes, J. Dale Robertson, H. Wayne Hudson, Bruce E. Harrison, William O. Oakes, Jr., Arthur G. Murphy, J. Lloyd Prichard, Pledge Tommy Vesser, J. Mike Wheeler, and Harry G. Merrill, III. Products of the redecoration were the Shamrock Room, the Jonquil Room, the Turquoise Room, and a redecorated dining room. Colorful murals were put up. Downstairs amusement rooms were mostly completed. (Source---The Delta, December December 1948, By Harry G. Merrill, III)

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House #5 1953 - 1966

900 South 17th Street

Sigma Nu House #5

The big news from Epsilon Eta Chapter at the University of Tennessee is that we have succeeded in purchasing a new house with the help of alumni Dr. L. Alton Absher, president of the Housing Corporation; Henry T. (Squire) Ogle, a member of the House Corporation; Leo J. Hardin, Chapter Advisor, and the National. The house is located in a very favorable position in regards to the campus and was redecorated with the help and elbow grease of one of our esteemed alumni, Brother Walter B. Yater, Jr., of Knoxville. (Source, The Delta, September 1953, by Thomas N. Farrell, Reporter)

"Busy as a bee" has been the best description this summer of the Epsilon Eta Chapter here as the University of Tennessee. Several of the members have spent the summer cleaning and painting our new house. The house has been redone from top to bottom. As apartment was constructed for the housemother, Mrs. Harriett Stange, and an extra room has been added to the second floor. This work has been accomplished with the aid of the Alumni Club, whose enthusiastic support made is possible.

Brothers Joe R. Gamble, Jr., Commander; James A. Wardley, Treasurer; and T. Boyd Evans, Assistant Treasurer, attended the Leadership School held at the University of Indiana. With our new house and the fine bunch of brother we have, the coming year should prove to be the best in the history of Epsilon Eta. (Source, The Delta, November 1953)

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House #6 1967 - 2009

1824 Fraternity Park Drive

Sigma Nu House #6

January 19, 1966 was a banner day for Epsilon Eta Chapter at the University of Tennessee. January 19 was the day that University broke ground officially for its new fraternity park, and Epsilon Eta Chapter will be one of the participating fraternities. All of which accounts for most of the smiles on the faces on the people in the photograph below. Some of the jollity, of course, must be accorded to Tennessee's jovial Governor Frank Clement who wielded one of the shovels enameled in University of Tennessee Orange, and exchanged wisecracks with UT President Andy Holt, who holds a shovel at the left of the photo. At right is Brother Alton Absher, President of the Epsilon Eta House Corporation, also holding a shovel. In the center is Chapter Commander Lynn Sorrell, with a white shovel. Also in the picture are Brother Bill Sladden, member of the house corporation; Jack Nelson, Chapter Adviser; Al Abernathy, Epsilon Eta alumnus and architect for the new house; Boyd Evans, Secretary of the House Corporation; Delta Editor Alan Wheeler; Bill Cate, House Corporation Lawyer; and Brother Charles Emory, Epsilon Eta alumnus, and contractor for the new house. Incidentally, the chapter is proud that the Epsilon Eta House will be only one in the new park designed and built entirely by members of its own fraternity. (Source---The Delta, Winter 1966)

Breaking ground for the Sigma Nu house

The way for such a project was cleared in 1958 when the UT Board of Trustees adopted a policy of financial aid to the fraternities. UT secures a 40-year loan for the fraternities on 80 percent of the construction cost. All of the fraternities will put up 20 percent of the cost prior to the start of the construction. The land is owned by UT, but the fraternities occupy the building sites on a lease basis with options up to 75 years. The fraternities pay back the balances of the loan over a 40-year period. The houses will contain a total of 464 dormitory beds, and will provide service for nearly 1000 fraternity members. The total dormitory beds in the 19 houses now bring operated by fraternities on the UT campus are 298. Each of the new houses will contain dining facilities. Following is a list of the 13 fraternities to be located in the park, including the estimated cost of construction, the architect, and the alumni officer who was official spokesman in the transaction for the fraternities….#11. Sigma Nu, $138,000, Abernathy & Robinson, Dr. Alton Absher. (Source---The Knoxville Journal, Friday, June 25, 1965)

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House #7 2010 - Present

1824 Fraternity Park Drive

Sigma Nu House #7

The new house opened on March 31, 2010. The house includes eighteen single rooms on the second floor and two officer rooms on the first floor. The suites and bathrooms on the first floor will be ADA-accessible. Large windows and natural light flood the eighteen rooms on the second floor that surround a central laundry facility and two bathrooms and shower area. The house meets and exceeds all required safety codes with proper fire escapes, sprinklers, kitchen facilities, heating and air conditioning, and plumbing facilities. In addition, the house has a large chapter room, officer, living room, pool table area, elevator, modern wireless computer and information technology connections to the campus community and a women’s powder room. (Source---“Rebuilding Sigma Nu: The $1 Million Campaign for Epsilon Eta” brochure)

The seventh house in the history of the Epsilon Eta chapter of Sigma Nu Fraternity was made possible through the generous donations of numerous alumni . Alumni of the Epsilon Eta chapter donated over $900,000 toward the new fraternity house. 

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