Lost in the Kappa Key

Yesterday, an email from my Kappa Kappa Gamma friend, Kylie Smith, had me lost in an 1895 edition of The Key of Kappa Kappa Gamma.

kappa lucy allen smart

What had me intrigued?

Never has an opening year brought greater occasion for rejoicing to Delta than has this. Her dream of years has been realized; at last she has her ‘golden milestone’ whence already she

‘Measures every distance

Through the gateways of the world around.’

Our plans for a chapter house were not mentioned in our last letter, for it was so difficult to secure a suitable house, that we scarcely dared hope that they could be carried out. However, before Commencement we put the matter into the hands of a local committee of arrangements with full power to decide. Who could chronicle the tribulations of those devoted girls! But thanks to their indefatigable efforts, coupled with the enthusiastic support of our resident Kappas, we returned to find a beautiful home ready for us. What that means to Delta, only ye who for twenty-two years have led the life of a homeless fraternity, can know! The house is well arranged for entertaining, as it has three parlors and a large hall. Seven of the girls room in the house, and there are also apartments for the matron. The parlors are most tastefully furnished and full of beautiful things, either given or loaned by Kappas and their friends. We owe especial thanks to Ida Fulwider (Hottel), for loaning us her fine piano.

Our house-warming was an open meeting, and on Hallowe’en a party was given, at which the girls dressed as babies and masked. One girl was an especial puzzle both to the men and to her Kappa sisters. At the unmasking she proved to be Maud Wilson, who had arrived in town that evening and had slipped in among the maskers without being discovered. The refreshments, fortune telling and games were all in keeping with Hallowe’en. 

The Delta chapter at Indiana University is Kappa’s longest continuous chapter. It was founded on October 12, 1872. In 1881, the chapter entertained the fourth National Convention, which was held in nearby French Lick. The chapter selected and proposed Kappa’s colors, the light blue and the dark blue, “they were accepted nationally. These colors are typical of the ‘true blue’ character and noble womanhood of Kappa. Delta’s design for the Fraternity official seal was also accepted.”

For 22 years, the chapter had no home to call its own, and now it has one of the most beautiful homes of all Kappa Kappa Gamma chapters. The house the committee found for the chapter in 1894 is not the home in which the chapter resides currently. The chapter’s home at 1018 East Third Street opened in 1925. Three years earlier, the chapter, backed by a “loyal body of alumnae, Delta set out to build a new castle.” The new home was occupied in the fall of 1925. The home was described as being “of English Gothic architecture in light brick and stone. Standing on a hill, one hundred feet back from the street, it makes an imposing appearance. The house was built, furnished, and landscaped at the cost of eighty thousand dollars.” (In 2015 buying power that $80,000 equates to more than $1,000,000, an amazing amount when you consider that women did not typically have discretionary funds of their own.) 

kappa house

 © Fran Becque, www.fraternityhistory.com, 2016. 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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