Chapter History

The Epsilon Lambda Chapter, seated in St. Louis, MO, began on Dec 3, 1919 when eleven members chartered the 5th graduate chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.  The eleven founding brothers were Bros. John T. Anderson, Daniel W. Bowles, George W. Buckner, L. Symington Curtis, F.D. Hosley, David D. Jones, H.D. Shaw, L.E. Simms, N.M. Sykes, Frank S. Thurman and Robert P. Watts.  Epsilon Lambda was the 4th graduate chapter chartered in 1919, preceeded by Beta Lambda in Kansas City, MO, Gamma Lambda in Detroit, MI, and Delta Lambda in Baltimore, MD (May 23).

Chapter meetings were held at Pero College, on the southwest corner of St. Ferdinand and Pendleton Avenues, or in the homes of brothers of the Chapter. During the middle of the 20th centrury, the Chapter held its meetings in a room on Union Blvd., on the lower level of the Mound City Medical Center. When the Alpha Gardens Apartments were opened in 1968, the Chapter began meeting in the complex’s community room. The Alpha Gardens Apartments community room remained the meeting location of the chapter until 1999, when the chapter purchased the current Alpha house, located at 3615 N. 19th St in the Hyde Park section of St. Louis.

Epsilon Lambda Chapter is the birthplace of two national programs, Life Membership and Housing, and is frequently refered to as the “Life Membership Chapter” due to the efforts of Chapter Member Bro. John D. Buckner in assuring that the program became a viable sustaining part of the Fraternity. Since being chartered, Epsilon Lambda has hosted three Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity General Conventions: 1922, 1933, and 1966. Jewel Bro. Henry Arthur Callis was affiliated with the Epsilon Lambda Chapter as it prepared for the 1922 convention, at which delegates voted to estables a chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha on the continent of Africa. At the time, Jewel Callis was living in St. Louis as he completed his medical internship at City Hospital #2. During the 1933 convention, the final version of the Fraternity Prayer was presented, discussed, and accepted. Additionally, the Alpha Phi Alpha Foundation was established to support the need for expansion of the Go-to-High School, Go-to-College educational program.

During the 1966 convention, several hundred Brothers marched from the convention hotel, located on 12th Street, to the Old Courthouse on the corner of 4th and Market Streets. The Old Courthouse had been the site of the Dred Scott trial for freedom and is also the location the Alpha Phi Alpha Brother Thurgood Marshall was presented the Alpha Award of Honor of the Century. Also, The Life Member’s Breakfast became a regular event on the general convention schedule, the National Housing Program was created under the leadership of Bro. William M. Alexander, a member of Epsilon Lambda Chapter. The National Building Foundation began ts first efforts in the area of not-for-profit housing construction during this convention, resulting in the creation of Alpha Gardens, Alpha Towne, and Alpha Village in St. Louis. A current active member of Epsilon Lambda, Bro. Wayne C. Harvey, was the third National Building Foundation Chairman.

Epsilon Lambda is the only graduate chapter in Missouri District, Area 1, which covers Eastern Missouri.  There are also three undergraduate chapters in Area 1: Alpha Eta, a citywide chapter in St. Louis; Xi Gamma, seated at Southeast Missouri State University; and Epsilon Psi, seated at the University of Missouri at Rolla.