Large, exquisite Interfraternity Council houses stretch down North Jordan Ave and East Third Street. Having an official house is a well-known aspect of greek life to students on IU’s campus. The historically black Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity doesn't have a house — it was sold in the late 1990s.
Before it was sold, the house was a home to many.
“It was our safe haven, sanctuary, study hall and for a lot of us it was our home,” Darryl Ferguson, IU alumnus and member of Kappa Alpha Psi said.
The house has been used as a headquarters for IU Police Department since 2009. The headquarters has a plaque outside and display inside dedicated to Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity.
From parties to picnics to study sessions, the Kappa house was a pivotal location for black students at IU, Ferguson said. He said everybody knew that the Kappa house was the place to be every weekend.
“We always had study halls, and it was also a place for the young groups students to come and visit and call home outside of the dorms,” Ferguson said. “It was a place that had so much history and not just with the Kappas, but with all the brothers and sisters that went through Indiana University over the years.”
Ferguson remembered roasting a pig on a bed spring for a picnic. Ferguson and his fraternity brothers used four cinder blocks, two on each side, to hold up a 95-pound pig they bought at a farm butcher shop.
“We had a party the night before and at about 2:30 in the morning we started cooking the pig to make sure it would be ready for the picnic at 2 p.m. the next day,” Ferguson said. We served it up to about 125 people. I think of that because it represented young ingenuity and a gathering place for all.”
Ferguson said the house at 1469 E. 17th St. holds a special place in the hearts of its residents, and the memories shared in the space will always belong to the house. When he heard the house was going to be sold, Ferguson drove almost an hour to the abandoned house to take one last look. A picture of him and his brothers hung on the wall inside.
Ferguson took the photo and went home. About halfway home he turned around to bring the photo back.
“Although I knew the house was going to be sold and that there was a good chance the picture could be thrown away, it belongs to the house,” Ferguson said. "I’ve had brothers since then tell me that I should have kept it, but I feel good that I did the right thing. It didn’t belong to me, it belonged to the house.”
Senior and Kappa Alpha Psi member Courtland Crenshaw said having a house wouldn’t just affect members of Kappa Alpha Psi, it would affect the lives of black IU students as well.
“The current black IU doesn’t understand how crucial it would be for us to have our own house,” Crenshaw said. “We would be able to do our own thing. We could throw as many parties or events as you want."
While it may not exist anymore, the fact that a historically black fraternity ever had a house is still monumental, Crenshaw said.
“It was a blessing as Alpha chapter to even have had our own house on or off campus,” Crenshaw said. “That’s one of the reasons why everybody flocked to the Alpha chapter, and in today’s climate in society we have to be able to appreciate that more and not expect to get the same treatment.”
IUPD continues to acknowledge the fraternity today within its headquarter's walls.
“We worked with the fraternity to make sure they were recognized for all their efforts and all the rich history they had on IU's campus,” IUPD Deputy Chief Shannon Bunger said.
The house is still visited by brothers of Kappa Alpha Psi to this day. Bunger said a man visited once who said he lived in the Kappa house. He took some pictures of the outside and IUPD asked if he wanted a tour.
"I think his room was where our chief's office is currently,” Bunger said. "It was really cool to go through the building with him and to see the history of how the house was when they were there.”
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