Happy Founders’ Day to Sig Ep, the Men of the Red Doors

On November 1, 1901  Sigma Phi Epsilon was founded. It was founded by twelve young men who were students at the University of Richmond. One of the twelve, Carter Ashton Jenkins, was a Chi Phi member from Rutgers University; he first sought a charter from Chi Phi, but the request was declined because the University of Richmond, a Baptist school, was considered too small.

Jenkins then  found 11 other congenial men who were also eager to share a brotherhood built upon “the love of God and the principle of peace through brotherhood.”  They named the organization Sigma Phi unaware that there was already a men’s fraternity by that name. The group then took the name Sigma Phi Epsilon.

One of the fraternity’s traditions, that of the red door, began at Syracuse University. In 1928, a few of the brothers painted the front door red, one  the fraternity’s colors.

The red doors of a Sigma Phi Epsilon chapter.

The red doors of a Sigma Phi Epsilon chapter.


New York Alpha was the organization’s 18th chapter; it was founded on the campus in 1905. The chapter currently resides at 721 Comstock Avenue. The first red door made its appearance at the chapter’s former home on Walnut Place; that building is now the Slutzker International Center. The tradition continues at its home on Comstock Ave.

The Slutzker International Center at Syracuse University, the former home of Sigma Phi Epsilon on Walnut Place. The red door tradition began at this house.

 The “welcome to all” tradition caught on quickly and red doors became a mainstay of Sig Ep chapters nationwide.

© Fran Becque, www.fraternityhistory.com, 2015. All rights reserved. If  you enjoyed this post, please sign up for updates. Also follow me on twitter @GLOHistory and Pinterest www.pinterest.com/glohistory/

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