Phi Kappa Hall
Phi Kappa Hall is a two story, red brick building that is located on the upper side of North Campus on the grounds of the University of Georgia. The Hall is home to the Phi Kappa Literary Society, an organization created in 1820 as the second-oldest Greek-lettered organization in the country. The Hall was constructed in 1836 at the cost of $5,000 and has been the site of many of the University`s great debate-- Independence for the Greek? Is War in Iraq a good thing?
Backstory and Context
During the Civil War, Phi Kappa Hall was closed to allow students to fight in the war. Following the end of the war in 1865, the city of Athens was occupied by Union soldiers. The building became a stable for the soldiers and their supplies. The building itself was badly damaged and the inside was looted for funds or burned out of spite. Once students returned from the war, they made do with what they had to rebuild the building to its former glory. Meetings were in Phi Kappa Hall once again in the following year, in 1866. As a member of the Literary Society, Henry W. Grady (namesake of UGA`s School of Journalism and Mass Communication) was a major factor in raising funds for renovation.
However, as the University began to grow in size, funds were allocated elsewhere. Phi Kappa Hall was not to be fully renovated during this time , making it increasingly difficult to hold regular meetings within its walls. The first floor of Phi Kappa Hall became the University`s first gymnasium in 1888.
In 1935, the controversy surrounding , then current, Georgia Governor Eugene Talmadge divided the occupants of Phi Kappa Hall over his white supremacist views and strict control over University affairs. Reportedly a portrait of Talmadge was burned on the steps of Phi Kappa Hall in protest of his upcoming visit to the University. Today, though, a picture of Talmadge does adorn the walls.
The building was closed once again with the US involvement in the Second World War beginning in 1941. After the conclusion of the war in 1945, interest in literary societies declined as did the upkeep of Phi Kappa Hall. During the periods of cultural revolution in the United States in the 1960s and 1970s, Phi Kappa Hall was home to some of the most vibrant debates in the state of Georgia concerning Civil Rights, Women`s Rights, the Vietnam War etc. The Phi Kappa Literary Society disbanded in the late 1970s leaving the building without an occupant for almost a decade.
The Literary Society moved back in in 1991 with its refounding. It would, though, not stay the building`s only occupants for long. The Georgia Debate Union moved in in 1993, much to the dismay of the Literary Society. Overall Phi Kappa Hall would be renovated in 2004 and rededicated in 2005. The building kicked off its re dedication with a debate between an economics professor at the University and a representative from Communist USA.
Today, only the second floor of the building is available for public view and the University of Georgia holds control over the grounds of Phi Kappa Hall, though the Phi Kappa Literary Society hopes someday to buy the building for themselves to ensure its longevity.
. . http://www.phikappauga.org/history/.
Rowell, Leighton. . . https://www.redandblack.com/uganews/phi-kappa-hall-repeatedly-vandalized/article_1eb70fcc-ede8-11e4-9260-13f9667930fa.html.
. . http://www.georgiadebate.org/page/program-history.