Ever since its genesis in 46 East Lawn on December the 10th, 1869, the Zeta Chapter – the founding chapter – of Kappa Sigma has remained one of the most historical and impactful organizations at the University of Virginia and beyond. The seed of the fraternity dates to the 14th Century at the University of Bologna, where a secret brotherhood was formed and spread throughout select European universities. While travelling in Italy, William Grigsby McCormick discovered the ancient order and was inspired to introduce it to America. Thus, one night in December of 1869, McCormick met with friends George Miles Arnold, John Covert Boyd, Edmond Law Rogers, and Frank Courtney Nicodemus and established the Zeta Chapter of Kappa Sigma at the heart of the University of Virginia, binding themselves to a brotherhood that would stand the tests of time and develop into one of the strongest fraternity’s at both their alma mater and their beloved country.
The legacy of these five friends and brothers lives on today in a strong mother chapter, symbolized by its permanent residences – both at 46 East Lawn and 165 Rugby Road. McCormick Hall, named in honor of founder William Grigsby McCormick, was built in 1908, making it one of the very oldest fraternity houses at the University of Virginia. In 1916, William Grigsby McCormick came back to the University and spent a night in McCormick Hall to demonstrate his appreciation and recommitment to the Zeta Chapter. The fraternity house still stands boldly in its original construction at 165 Rugby as a testament to the thousands of men who have followed in McCormick’s footsteps at the University.
Perhaps the most important continuation of Zeta Chapter’s unique history is the historic Lawn Room where it all began. Due to a mutual respect between the University and the brothers of Kappa Sigma, each year the Zeta Chapter selects one rising 4th Year to live in 46 East Lawn and maintain the presence, spirit, and ideals of Kappa Sig at the heart of Jefferson’s Academical Village. The plaque outside 46 East memorializes the event of the founding, and the inside of the room pays tribute to the fraternity’s history through pictures, plaques, and a record of the residents dating back to 1903.
The Zeta Chapter of Kappa Sigma is proud of its rich history of tradition and excellence at the University of Virginia, and the current brothers are honored to carry forth that tradition in the shadows of great men and their legacy. Alumni, please feel free to contact the current president, Bronson Ingram, or current Alumni Chair, Tim Jonas, for more historical information, or to schedule a visit of McCormick Hall or 46 East Lawn. (last updated: June 2019)