The Memorial Headquarters was built to be a memorial to the Pi Kappa Alpha brothers who gave their lives in the defense of their country.
Sensing the Fraternity’s fervent patriotism and a keen desire to appropriately honor Pi Kappa Alpha’s Gold Star Heroes, LeRoy Hodges (Washington and Lee, Pi ’06) advanced the idea of creating and building a War Memorial & Archives Fund, with the primary goal to raise sufficient capital to underwrite the construction of a physical facility dedicated to permanently honor Pi Kappa Alpha’s war dead. This facility would house the Fraternity’s professional staff, hold and display its growing archival and memorabilia holdings (a goal of then-National Historian Freeman Hart), and most importantly, serve as a lasting memorial to those brothers who had died in military service to the Country.
Delegates and attendees at Pi Kappa Alpha’s 1946 Victory Convention at Mackinac Island in Michigan eagerly embraced these ambitious plans, and concurrently selected Memphis, Tennessee, as the site for this new facility.
On June 9, 1950, the Pi Kappa Alpha Memorial Foundation was formed. It promptly accepted the charge to spearhead raising sufficient funds to accommodate the immediate initiation of construction of this ambitious memorial.
Ground was broken for the new facility on June 30, 1953, and on September 5th of the following year, in conjunction with the 1954 Memphis Convention, the Pi Kappa Alpha Memorial Headquarters was officially opened and dedicated to the memory of those brothers of Pi Kappa Alpha who had given their lives in military service.
Increased focus on membership growth, both via expansion and within existing chapters, dictated rapid and significant enhancement of Pi Kappa Alpha professional staff. By 1986, the now thirty-three year old Pi Kappa Alpha Memorial Headquarters was bursting at the seams, and various plans were being considered, along with an associated capital campaign led by the Foundation, to build an addition to the property.
Plans for this addition were well down the road when, in an interesting turn of events, neighboring Rhodes College (formerly Southwestern at Memphis) shared its keen interest in purchasing the facility and property. This opportunity afforded the Fraternity and Foundation to once again consider an entirely new facility – designed and built from the ground up – to not only remedy staffing constraints, but to also address aspirations for enhanced museum facilities and a more fitting and prominent memorial to Pi Kappa Alpha’s Gold Star Heroes.
Under the dynamic leadership of Foundation Presidents George W. Denton (Missouri, Alpha Nu ‘42) and Joseph J. Turner, Jr. (Clemson, Eta Alpha ’70), Fraternity National President Gary E. Menchhofer (Cincinnati, Alpha Xi ‘65) and Executive Vice President Raymond L. Orians (Memphis, Delta Zeta ’66), the Pi Kappa Alpha Memorial Foundation again answered the call and in under two years delivered to the Fraternity a new, magnificent facility architecturally inspired by Thomas Jefferson’s own Monticello. On August 15, 1988, in conjunction with the 1988 Memphis Convention, nearly 1,000 students, alumni and guests participated in ceremonies dedicating the new Pi Kappa Alpha Memorial Headquarters located in the Tournament Players Club – Southwind development in southeast Memphis.
With access to literally twice the square footage of the previous headquarters facility, the Fraternity could now more than comfortably accommodate its rapidly growing staff for the foreseeable future, and the Foundation could dramatically enhance its museum exhibit space and archival storage capacity.
Exactly twenty years later, in 2008, the Pi Kappa Alpha Foundation would further acknowledge its mission in honoring Pi Kappa Alpha’s military heroes through the addition of an inspiring, freestanding memorial most prominently placed at the center of the Memorial Headquarters’ magnificent entry Rotunda.
Most generously underwritten by George W. Levert (Louisiana Tech, Gamma Psi ’65) and his wife Dale, John L. Lisher (Indiana, Delta Xi ’71) and his wife Mary, Daniel W. Corah (Colorado State, Epsilon Theta ’83) and Dr. Carl ‘Trey’ LaBella (Delta State, Zeta Beta ’94) , the Gold Star Memorial, solemnly listing the names of more than 600 Pikes who paid the ultimate sacrifice, is the first thing visitors encounter upon entering the Memorial Headquarters, appropriately anchoring the facility in its most primary role as a lasting memorial to these heroes.