The Delta chapter of Tau Kappa Epsilon (TKE) has been in their house on the Knox campus for 100 years this year. To celebrate, currently active and alumni members are putting together celebrations for homecoming, including an open house and a time capsule.
The TKE house originally belonged to music professor William F. Bentley and was built in the early 1900s, alumnus TKE and organizer John Gorski ‘73, said. The Delta chapter moved into the house in 1920, after being formed in 1912. The house is the oldest TKE house in the country, with the chapter being the fourth oldest.
“TKE @ 160 100” is planned for Homecoming during Fall Term but students and alumni are already working to plan the event.
Gorski is also working on a history of the chapter for the commemoration, which he said would include photos and anecdotes from alumni as well as using archival documents for the history.
Over the course of his project he found some new things about the history he didn’t know before. For instance, the house once boasted a dumbwaiter and that the rooms on the third floor were once used for practice rooms for music students before TKE moved in.
Gorski has also found some archival artifacts that helped him learn more about what life was like for members in the ‘50s and ‘60s. Parties used to have invitations and menus and before the early ‘70s, meals were served at the house as students were not on board. Some of the families of former cooks have been invited to the celebrations as well.
Current TKE students sophomore Alejandro Pena and junior Josh Shumacher, the current and past historians respectively, said having such a historic house feels special. Pena said he gets a sense of history through the changes each generation of TKEs have made to the house.
Shumacher emphasized that they are assuming students will be on campus in the fall and that they will do whatever they need to keep people safe while they visit the open house. They want it to be a chance to not just invite alumni but for others to see the house and learn about the history as well.
“It’s going to be a major celebration and we just really want to make sure that we are accommodating, so even if it means providing masks at the time or just really making sure that people keep a safe distance,” Shumacher said. “Just whatever it takes so we can have everyone celebrate in a safe manner.”
The time capsule is still being figured out but Gorski said they hoped to have a mix of items in it, from both alumni and current students, representing the past and present of the house. They are working the facilities and grounds on putting the time capsule in the building itself.
The historians described their job as keeping TKE history, which connects them to the alumni and the current members.
“”We do consider ourselves one large family, whether we are active members or alumni, we all still try to stay connected and that’s, I think, one of the biggest points and biggest jobs that I now have as historian,” Pena said.
For Gorski, this has been a chance to reflect on his time at Knox and the friends he made there, as well as a way to give back to the college.
“I met my best friends there,” he said. “The college gave me a chance (…) this gives me a bit of an opportunity to pay it back, and the education has helped me in my career, so it’s pay back is really what it is. Plus it’s a hell of a lot of fun seeing people and talking to people you really haven’t had a chance to talk to in 40 and 50 years.