Tau Kappa Epsilon (TKE)
- 1958 - 1965: 401 N. 23rd Street (corner of 23rd and Gordon) “White Elephant”
- 1965 - 2003: 2309 Turner Street House (present-day Rehearsal House)
The Zeta Eta chapter of Tau Kappa Epsilon (TKE) was initiated at Muhlenberg on January 10, 1958, absorbing the local organization Alpha Mu Iota. TKE’s first house, at the corner of 23rd and Gordon Streets (present-day location of the Keck House, built 1994) was referred to as the “White Elephant” around campus.
The three-story house at 401 N. 23rd Street was built in 1905 by Sallie and Kathryn Kistler. The Kistler Sisters came with their mother to Allentown in the summer of 1905 from their homestead in Kistler’s Valley and purchased the lot of land directly across from present-day East Hall. They built this house with the intention of taking in Muhlenberg students and staff as roomers and boarders, which proved a lucrative business for them from 1905 until 1944 when they sold the house to move back to their family homestead with their brother. Tom Kelley, Muhlenberg’s head football coach from 1911-1913, lived in the house and even got married in the living room. The sisters had a close relationship with members of the Muhlenberg community for nearly 40 years and said that their departure was bittersweet.
TKE vacated the “White Elephant” in 1965 when their own on-campus house was constructed on Turner Street overlooking Lake Muhlenberg.
The move was described in the 1965 Ciarla: “The youngest fraternity of Muhlenberg campus has finally outgrown its shell, the “white elephant,” and moved into a new abode just above and overlooking the duck-filled Muhlenberg cistern. The house has facilities for thirty men and a house mother and will hereafter service to bring together the somewhat scattered brotherhood. Tau Kappa Epsilon will also find it somewhat easier and more convenient to give parties, for as any TKE brother knows, the basement stairs were difficult to navigate after a good time in the cellar of the white elephant.”
TKE lived continuously in their Turner Street house from 1965 until 2003 when the chapter lost its charter and was removed from campus for a “culture of dangerous and anti-social incidents in the house.” In 2010, the house was renovated into the present-day Rehearsal House.