This particular chapter of Phi Delta Theta undoubtedly has one of the richest histories of any chapter of the general fraternity. In the year 1874, W.L. Calhoun, of the Georgia chapter was attending the University of Nashville and there met Lytton Taylor, a resident of Nashville. Taylor was planning to enter Vanderbilt University and agreed to try to establish a chapter of Phi Delta Theta in that institution. In the fall of 1875, he entered Vanderbilt and with several other students, made application for a charter. On January 20, 1876, the National Grand granted the charter, but the Vanderbilt faculty, hearing of Taylor’s plans, immediately forced him to drop them. In the fall of 1877, J.C. Smith, Alabama 1880, and J.B. Reed, Centre 1875, entered Vanderbilt Law School and quietly set about reviving the chapter. In this work J.M. Barrs, 1879, proved a tower of strength. The chapter ran sub rosa, however, until October 31, 1883, when Trustees of the University removed all restrictions and welcomed the Tennessee Alpha chapter as Vanderbilt’s first fraternity.

Throughout its years, Tennessee Alpha has consistently provided leadership to the community with both laymen and professionals. There have been more Phis in Who’s Who in America than any other fraternity; and of these, more are from this chapter than any other. Perhaps Tennessee Alpha’s most sterling accomplishment, however, is the retiring of the only two Founder’s trophies, to ever be retired. To keep this “best chapter” award, it must be won in seven of eight years in succession. Other accomplishments in the fields of sports, student government, intra-fraternity competition, and scholarship carry equal distinction.

The original house was located on 21st Avenue at Division, where Nick and Rudy’s Restaurant is now currently located. We were in that house for 42 years, until our current house located on 25th Avenue was built in 1962.