Alpha Delta Pi Sorority House
The Alpha Delta Pi Sorority House on the campus of the University at Urbana-Champaign is a historic chapter house constructed in 1926. 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 French Eclectic style by the Clare-Alben W. Coen Company from Berwyn, Illinois. Notable former residents include Agnes White Tizard, who portrayed Betty Crocker on the radio in the 1920s and 30s, and Tiera Farow, the first female lawyer to sit as a judge.
Backstory and Context
The Alpha Delta Pi 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 Pi 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 as a means of setting it apart from other chapter houses in Urbana: The sorority's newsletter, The Signagram, notes that "The house will be of typical French chateau style, unlike any fraternity or sorority house on the campus at the present time." It was designed by the Clare-Alben W. Coen Company from Berwyn, Illinois. This firm also designed the Delta Delta Delta sorority house built from 1928-1929.
The French Eclectic style 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. Exterior features include a steeply pitched roof, asymmetrical structure, Bedford stone quoins, and a large, round front door.
The Alpha Delta Pi Sorority at Urbana Champaign
Alpha Delta Pi was founded as a literary society in 1851 at Wesleyan College. In 1904, the group expanded and became a national sorority. It was known as Alpha Delta Phi, but changed its name in 1913 under pressure from the fraternity of the same name. The chapter at Urbana Champaign was established in 1912 after a local sorority, Alpha Alpha, merged with the national sorority to become Sigma Chapter.
Notable alumni include the nurse Gladys Kilpatrick; the radio personality Agnes White, who provided the voice of Betty Crocker in the 1920s and 30s; and Tiera Farrow, the first female lawyer to sit as a judge in the United States.
"Agnes White Tizard." Valley Center History Museum. https://www.vchistory.org/people/agnes-white-tizard-betty-crocker/ Accessed June 9, 2018.
Kummer, Karen L. "Alpha Delta Pi Sorority House," National Register of Historic Places Registration Form. U.S. Dept. of the Interior, NPS. March, 2000. http://gis.hpa.state.il.us/pdfs/205571.pdf Accessed June 9, 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 June 8, 2018.
The Sigmagram. April, 1926.