Kappa Delta Rho Fraternity House
The Kappa Delta Rho Fraternity House on the campus of the University at Urbana-Champaign is a historic chapter house constructed in 1928. 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 constructed for the Eta Chapter of Kappa Delta Rho in the French Eclectic style.
Backstory and Context
The Kappa Delta Rho 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 Kappa Delta Rho 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 Pi house was designed in the French Eclectic style which is based on French domestic architecture, particularly that of northern France, and is closely related to Tudor Revival style. The style became particularly popular in the United States after World War One exposed Americans to the elements of French design. Notable exterior features include a steeply pitched roof, asymmetrical structure and stair tower.
The Kappa Delta Rho Fraternity at Urbana-Champaign
Kappa Delta Rho was founded in 1905 at Middlebury College in Vermont. In 1913, the group expanded to Cornell University and became a national sorority. The Eta Chapter of Urbana-Champaign was established in 1921.
Notable members of the Eta Chapter in the 1920s and 30s include the high jumper Harold Osborn, track member Jack Degette, baseball player Elmer Mundt, and football player Bob Bloom.
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 August 16, 2018.