Kappa Alpha
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Kappa Alpha House, early 1900s
Union College Elizabeth Taylor Postcard Collection
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Kappa Alpha House, 1902
Union College Schaffer Library,
Special Collections Picture File
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Kappa Alpha House, circa 1910
Union College William Hahn Postcard Collection

The oldest continuously active social fraternity in the country, the Kappa Alpha Society was founded at Union on November 26, 1825. For many decades, the members had meeting rooms in Schenectady, building their first campus house only in 1901. Originally, the house was planned to be near Psi Upsilon, across Library Lane from Mrs. Perkins’s Garden, but it was decided that there were already too many houses in that area. Eventually the house was constructed in part of the College Grove along what was then called North or Laboratory Lane.

Mrs. Perkins showed a keen interest in the Kappa Alpha Society and frequently mentioned it in her letters, keeping her son Roger (a member) up to date on what was going on with pledges, current members, and alumni and giving news of events such as dances, teas, and dinners. “Rose chaperoned a dance at the Kaps last night, and had a very nice time. She says the girls were ever so much nicer than the Alpha Delts, and she danced all she wanted to …” (February 22, 1903). Mrs. Perkins was particularly interested in the building of the chapter’s house and was happy with the decision to build it on the corner along Laboratory Lane because it would give her beloved “Kaps” a lovely view of winter sunsets. As “one of the best looking Kap ladies here,” Mrs. Perkins was pressured to attend, but ended up very much enjoying, Kappa Alpha’s 75th anniversary celebration, which included a reception, a “very pretty” dance held in the Nott Memorial, and a sermon delivered by one Dr. Darling (November 27, 1900). In addition to encouraging other people to make donations to the society, Mrs. Perkins also gave Kappa Alpha some furniture for their house. 

Two academic buildings were later built on either side of the fraternity house.  As a celebration of their 100 year anniversary in 1925, the society essentially reconstructed it, keeping much of the interior structure but completely changing the exterior. During the World Wars the house was used as a YMCA center and then as a Navy sick bay. It was razed in 1967 to make room for the Science and Engineering Center.