For the first time in 30 years, a new fraternity has made its home in the house on the corner of West Pine Street and Southwest Avenue.
After moving into the house at 519 W. Pine at the beginning of the year, members of East Tennessee State University’s Lambda Chi Alpha have finally placed their large green letters on the exterior of the home, signaling the fraternity’s return to the Tree Streets.
Long days of cleanup on the both the exterior and interior of the old house have paid off, and the men of the chapter couldn’t be happier.
“It’s definitely a big deal, because fraternities that have a house basically have an upper hand on the other ones. We have a place to meet. We have a place to recruit. We don’t have to do our recruiting off campus on these other locations that we rent out. We can actually do it at the house,” Lambda Chi housing manager Alex Carver said. “It’s nice to have a common meeting place for us.”
In order to be sanctioned by the university, the fraternity had to get the building up to code. It wasn’t until they spent months refinishing areas of the house that ETSU signed off on the new frat house.
Historically, the Tree Streets have been home to many of ETSU’s organizations. The house that sits on West Pine is no different.
Lambda Chi alumni adviser Andrew Bledsoe said the home was originally owned by one of the owners of Harman Ice. After it changed hands, the house was home to two other fraternities — Phi Kappa Phi and Sigma Nu — before Sigma Nu rented out the property to Lambda Chi.
While the house was under the banner of Sigma Nu, it served as one of the locations in the music video for Aerosmith’s “Ragdoll” in the late 1980s.
But for Lambda Chi, getting a house has been a labor of love for many years.
The chapter at ETSU began in 1956 and was the first fraternity to have its own house, according to Bledsoe.
Keeping the home as part of the Greek system was important to the men of the chapter, Bledsoe said.
“We’re really happy that we were able to keep on that legacy of this being a fraternity house,” he said.
While having a house helps with various chapter activities, it’s also a plus for alumni, giving them a place to visit and see how the chapter has grown.
“It’s a good feeling as alumni, speaking from experience, to be able to come back and actually have a place the guys can call their own and a place that we can all kind of rally around,” Bledsoe said.
With classes scheduled to start this week, Carver said seeing the house come together in time for the new semester was worth all the work the chapter put into making it their own.
“All the work that we’ve put in over the past six or seven months, out here every day doing the yard work and the upkeep of the house, it’s kind of like a reward at the end of it to finally have our letters up and to have the house that we can meet in,” he said.