The Kappa Sigma 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 Chapter House:
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. The Kappa Sigma house was part of an initial wave of building from 1906 to 1917 which would be followed by a second, larger wave in the 1920s.
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 Kappa Sigma house was built in the Italianate Renaissance Revival style, which is meant to evoke an Italian palazzo. Notable features include a loggia (i.e. a covered exterior gallery)in the two side facades and diamond-patterned brickwork on the upper two stories.
The house was designed by local architect Archie H. Hubbard, an alumnus of the fraternity. It was constructed by local contractor A.W. Stoolman, who built many structures on the campus of the University of Illinois as well as two other chapter houses: Beta Theta Pi and Sigma Alpha Epsilon.
The Kappa Sigma Fraternity at Urbana-Champaign
Kappa Sigma was founded at the University of Virgina in 1869. The Alpha Gamma Chapter of the University of Illinois was established in 1891, and was the first fraternity to be established following the end of anti-fraternity restrictions. The fraternity was initially supervised by Robert Lackey, an alumnus of the Purdue chapter and the first football coach at the university.