Part Two: Greek 'Main Street' Emerges
Once the Addition was available, the Greeks recognized its opportunities. They were led by Kappa Sigma, which made the move in 1909 from its Brooklyn and 46th Street address, landing just above 50th on 18th Avenue N.E. This distance would prove in the long run to be wide of the mark, but the direction was prescient of the future.
In the following year the Kappa Sigs were joined by Gamma Phi Beta and Pi Beta Phi, both on 17th Avenue N.E., which was to become the "main street" of Greek Row. Each successive move by others reinforced the trend. By the teens, the evidence was overwhelming that the place for the Greeks to be was in these new blocks north of the UW campusand as close to it as possible.
The initial site selection and construction of the emerging Greek Row was phased. Their initial locations proved, in some cases, to be not necessarily permanent. The early years of the Row saw a considerable amount of settling in before the pattern of ownership became fixed. The first houses built were usually wood-frame, multi-storied, gable-roofed, generously porchedand big! But the houses that, in large part, have established the present character of the UW's Greek Row were not these.
Today's generation of Greek Row houses began when the Sigma Nus made their rather late move in 1917 from their original 15th Avenue site to a new address on the corner of 17th Avenue and 47th Street. With considerable panache, they had Seattle architect Ellsworth Storey design for them what would prove to be the first of the notable present-day houses of the UW's Greek Row. Storey's conception was an early modern work made of brick, influenced by the Chicago school of architecture and Frank Lloyd Wright.
What followed was a flood of new construction, often requiring the destruction of the earlier wood houses to make way for the new brick edifices. In 1920, six Greek chapters were occupying houses that we still find there today, and by 1931 there were 41 such houses (25 fraternities, 16 sororities) of a total number of 59 UW active chapters, not infrequently on a site different from their original Greek Row location.
During this building boom, the houses followed two basic architectural styles. Many chose the campus standard-variations on Collegiate Gothic. Others harkened back to Georgian architecture common to our nation's colonial period and nationally popular in those years. The '20s was a decade when there wasn't much choice about architectureand not much pressure to innovate. Greek alumni, who financed and oversaw the new construction, were inclined to the more traditional, formal kind of design. They were not adventurous about their architecture and they were careful about their budgets.
A Tour of Greek Row
Click the house locations on the map, or select a house from the list below, to read a description and view photos of the house.
- Phi Gamma Delta, 4503 17th Ave. N.E.
- Sigma Nu, 1616 N.E. 47th St.
- Pi Beta Phi, 4548 17th Ave. N.E.
- Theta Chi, 4535 17th Ave. N.E.
- Pi Kappa Phi, 4530 17th Ave. N.E.
- Delta Chi, 1819 47th Ave. N.E.
- Delta Upsilon, 4508 19th Ave. N.E.
- Phi Delta Theta, 2111 47th Ave. N.E.
- Sigma Kappa, 4510 22nd Ave. N.E.
- Gamma Phi Beta, 4529 17th Ave. N.E.
- Theta Xi, 4522 18th Ave. N.E.
- Delta Kappa Epsilon, 1800 N.E. 47th Ave.
- Kappa Kappa Gamma, 4504 18th Ave. N.E.
- Phi Delta Theta, 2111 47th Ave. NE
- Sigma Alpha Epsilon, 4506 17th Ave NE
- Sigma Chi, 4505 18th Ave. NE