Delta Upsilon Fraternity House
The Delta Upsilon Fraternity House is a historic chapter house. The house was designed in the Tudor Revival style by architect Leonard Steube and constructed from 1926 to 1927. It represents the flourishing of the Greek Letter Society movement on the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign during the early twentieth century. Notable former residents include the actor George Chandler and chemist Arnold Beckman.
Backstory and Context
The Delta Upsilonhouse 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 Delta Upsilon 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 Delta Upsilon house was designed in the Tudor Revival style by local architect Leonard Stuebe. The Tudor Revival style, based on late medieval English architecture, was popular in America in the decades leading up to World War II. Notable exterior features include decorative half-timbering, stone detailing, brick walls, and a large brick chimney. In the interior, prominent details include wooden wainscoting (i.e. paneling on the lower portion of the walls), Gothic door frames, and a Tudor-style fireplace.
The Delta Upsilon Fraternity at Urbana-Champaign
Delta Upsilon was founded in 1834 at Williams College as the Social Fraternity as a protest against the percieved elitism and secrecy of other fraternities. In 1847, the Social Fraternity joined with other similar groups to form the Anti-Secret Confederation. This organization changed its name to Delta Upsilon in 1864. The Urbana-Champaign chapter was chartered in 1905.
The chapter's two most famous alumni are the actor George Chandler and the chemist Arnold Beckman. George Chandler (class of 1922) was a prolific actor who appeared in over 190 films and played Uncle Petrie Martin on the TV show Lassie. Chandler succeeded Ronald Reagan as the 10th president of the Screen Actors Guild. Arnold Beckman (class of 1921) studied chemistry and went on to found Beckman Instruments, a producer of scientific equipment. In the late 1980s, Beckman donated $40 millon to construct the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology.
Kolde, Brian. "Delta Upsilon Fraternity House." National Register of Historic Places Registration Form. U.S. Dept. of the Interior, NPS. January, 1990. http://gis.hpa.state.il.us/pdfs/200850.pdf. Accessed July 1, 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 Registration Form. U.S. Dept. of the Interior, NPS. May 5, 1989. Accessed July 1, 2018.
Saxon, Wolfgang. "A.O. Beckman, 104, Science Benefactor, Dies." New York Times. May 20, 2004. https://www.nytimes.com/2004/05/20/us/a-o-beckman-104-science-benefactor-dies.html. Accessed July 1, 2018.