The Nu Sigma Nu medical fraternity is the oldest medical fraternity in the United States. It was formally established in 1882 at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor by six medical students: Frederick Clark Bailey, Charles Marshall Frye, John Lincoln Gish, William James Mayo, Robert D. Stephens, and Benjamin Grinnell Strong. The Grand Chapter (later the Grand Council) was formed in 1886, making Nu Sigma Nu a national organization. Articles of incorporation were filed in 1896. At its peak in the late 1940s, Nu Sigma Nu had local chapters at over 40 universities throughout the United States and Canada.
The Alpha Chapter of Nu Sigma Nu had two official chapter houses during its existence at the University of Michigan. Before the construction of the first chapter house, Nu Sigma Nu members lived in seven different rented locations around campus. The idea for the first official chapter house was conceived in 1895 using land at the site of 1015 East Huron Avenue. The property was purchased in 1902. Active members of the Alpha Chapter each pledged $125 to support the construction of the house, while faculty members of the fraternity subscribed $1,725. A loan was secured to cover the remaining costs, with subscriptions put toward the eventual repayment of the loan. The total cost of the house was $17,000. Construction began in 1905 and the Alpha Chapter of Nu Sigma Nu moved into the house in April 1907.
After more than 50 years on East Huron, the Alpha Chapter of Nu Sigma Nu moved to a new location, on property owned and operated by the University of Michigan, at 1912 Geddes Avenue. A campaign to create and build a second chapter house began around 1958 and continued through 1969. Nu Sigma Nu alumni contributed a total of $270,000 to the Nu Sigma Nu Building Fund; the remaining $105,000 was loaned to the fraternity by the University of Michigan and paid back in the 1970s. Nu Sigma Nu members moved into the new house in the fall of 1970 and occupied it until 2008.
After a peak in fraternal spirit and enthusiasm in the 1940s and 50s, both the national organization and the local chapter of Nu Sigma N experienced a decline in enrollment. The national organization disbanded in the 1970s following the termination of several chapters. The Alpha Chapter maintained its presence at the University of Michigan but a disagreement with the Housing Division of the University of Michigan in 1986 revealed that the Alpha Chapter had, ten years earlier, lost its non-profit corporation status as well as violated the terms of its lease with the University. This revelation resulted in the members of Nu Sigma Nu banding together with renewed purpose. They concentrated their efforts on hosting more frequent alumni gatherings, publishing bulletins and announcements more regularly, and establishing a scholarship fund that enabled fourth-year medical students to complete a rotation abroad in an underprivileged area of the world. The most obvious sign of their efforts was the 1990 All-Year Reunion that brought Nu Sigma Nu alumni back to Ann Arbor from all parts of the country. Despite this surge in fraternal activity, the Alpha Chapter of Nu Sigma Nu experienced further decline and eventually disbanded in 2008.