Alpha Delta Phi Fraternity House
The Alpha Delta Phi Fraternity House on the campus of the University at Urbana-Champaign is a historic home completed in 1925. The house represents the flourishing of the Greek Letter Society movement at the Urbana-Champaign campus of the University of Illinois in the 1920s. It was designed in the Tudor Revival style by Chicago architect Ralph Varney. It has been home to numerous well-known athletes, including the swimmer Warren Overman.
Backstory and Context
The Alpha Delta Phi house is one of 77 fraternity and sorority chapter houses located on or around the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In the 1920s, the University of Urbana-Champaign was one of the leading centers of Greek letter societies in the United States.
It was during this period that university administrators across the country were adopting a more laissez faire attitude towards student life based on the model of the German university. Students were encouraged to exercise their freedom as a means of developing personal responsibility, and extra-curricular activities grew in importance.
As a result of these changes, administrators began to see Greek letter societies as allies in overseeing the physical, moral, and social development of students. The University of Illinois was the first university to create the offices of Dean of Women and Dean of Men, removing the responsibility of overseeing student affairs from the faculty. The first Dean of Men, Thomas A. Clark (1901-27), encouraged the growth of Greek letter societies as a means of keeping in touch with students and establishing norms of conduct.
The construction of chapter houses at the Urbana Champaign campus was driven by housing shortages resulting from the antipathy of the German system towards providing room and board to students. Dean Clark thought that the construction of chapter houses assisted in the socialization process of younger members and the training of future leaders.
The Alpha Delta Phi house is one of 27 chapter houses built during a second wave of construction between 1926 and 1930, following an initial wave of building from 1906 to 1917.
The architecture of chapter houses was seen as a way of educating students by exposing them to classical design. On the Urbana-Champaign campus, the majority of chapter houses were built by local architects in revival styles (e.g. Classical Revival, Gothic Revival, etc.)
The Alpha Delta Phi house was designed by Chicago architect Ralph Varney in the Tudor Revival style, which was based on Late Medieval English architecture. It was featured in the 1925 issue of The Architectural Forum as a particularly good example of this style.
Exterior features include a front-facing gable, grouped windows with stone mullions (i.e. the bars between the panes of glass), and projections from the walls known as oriels. Internal features include a large, multi-story living room with exposed trusses; a fireplace opening in the shape of a Tudor arch; and wrought iron chandeliers. More specifically, the wide use of brick and stone in the house and its lack of half-timbering make it an example of the "Jacobethan" sub-type of Tudor architecture, which combines Elizabethan and Jacobite styles.
The Alpha Delta Phi Fraternity at Urbana Champaign
Alpha Delta Phi was founded as a literary society in 1832 by Samuel Eells, a New York lawyer and philosopher. It was the first fraternity to establish a chapter west of the Appalachian Mountains, and the Illinois Chapter became the thirty-first chapter in 1911.
Notable members of the chapter include the swimmer Warren Overman, the golfer Fred Lyon, and the quarterback Ernest Chattin. Another member, Carl Knox, was Dean of Men at the university
Kolde, Brian. "Alpha Delta Phi Fraternity House." National Register of Historic Places Registration Form. U.S. Dept. of the Interior, NPS. January 1990. Accessed June 8, 2018.
Kummer, Karen L., et al. "Fraternity and Sorority Houses at the Urbana-Champaign Campus of the University of Illinois." National Register of Historic Places Continutation Sheet. U.S. Dept. of the Interior, NPS. May 5, 1989. Accessed June 8, 2018.