University of Minnesota Greek Letter Chapter House Historic District

You can read about the history and designation of the University of Minnesota Greek Letter Chapter House historic landmark.


University of Minnesota Greek Letter Chapter House District Map

University of Minnesota Greek Letter Chapter House District Design Guidelines

Fraternity Row along University Avenue SE , 1928

Phi Gamma Delta Fraternity, 1924

Boundaries: Generally bounded by University Avenue S.E., 10the Avenue S.E., 6 th Street S.E., and 12 th Avenue S.E. It also extends along University Avenue S.E. from 15 th Avenue S.E. to 19 th Avenue S.E.

Neighborhoods Marcy Holmes, University

Date of Local Designation: 2003

Date of National Designation: N/A

Historic Profile: The rise and decline of Greek chapter membership revealed changing economic atmospheres, as well as students’ evolving political and social ideas. Recognized as well for their highly symbolic, architecturally distinctive 20 th century designs, the Fraternity and Sorority Row houses defined the northern edge of the campus. The core of the district extends east along University Avenue from 15 th Avenue SE to 19 th Avenue SE in an area commonly known as "Fraternity Row." The area known as "Sorority Row," or "Off-the-Row," a fourteen-square-block area from University Avenue SE at the south, west to 10 th Avenue SE, north the 6 th St. SE and west to 12 th Avenue SE is also included in the district.

With an enrollment of 212 in 1870 the student body of the University of Minnesota grew to over 17,500 by 1930. The first Greek letter chapter, the Alpha Nu chapter of Chi Psi, was founded in 1874 and was soon followed by others such as Phi Delta Theta (1881) and Delta Tau Delta (1883). By the turn of the 20 th century, a high demand for new houses was triggered by the flourishing number of Greek societies. Beaux-Arts, Classical and Period Revival designs were chosen for the Greek chapter houses, many of them designed by prominent local architects such as William Kenyon (Phi Kappa Psi) and the firm of Kees and Colburn (Psi Upsilon).

During the period of significance, from 1907 to 1930, a total of twenty-two chapter houses on Fraternity Row and eleven chapter houses on Sorority Row which were built still retain a fair level of historic integrity. Their presence along with their impressive facades and interiors are symbolic of permanence and influence of the Greek letter system in the University of Minnesota.

Photo Credits:

1928, courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society

1924, courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society

Works Cited:

Landscape Research, "University of Minnesota Greek Letter Chapter House Designation Study," November 2003.

Updated April 2011

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