Row Show - Part Three

Part Three: Houses Jockey for Location, Status

Window from Sigma Kappa chapter house.

The year 1931 also proved to be the high-water mark in the number of Greek-letter organizations at the UW. Interestingly, the Depression seems to have had little effect on the Greek system, the number of active chapters showing rather remarkable stability through that period of economic severity. The Second World War, however, disrupted the Greeks, reducing the number of active chapters considerably. But by 1950 they had bounced back.

By 1970 a new phenomenon appeared on the Row: additional site acquisition by the Greeks for bigger lots in a rash of additions and remodeling to modernize the houses, accommodate increased memberships and provide for parking. Some additions were more successful than others, which sacrificed architectural integrity for functional expediency.

Subsequently, the early '70s were particularly hard on the Greeks. In the social turmoil of those years, some groups disappeared and, in other cases, their houses remained Greek but changed hands due to organizational problems. In more recent years, however, a number of new houses have been constructed, further reinforcing the concentration of the Row as their most favored location.

The history of Greek Row at the University of Washington shows an incremental trend toward environmental consolidation. The relative dispersal north of the campus in 1931 has been seen over the years as giving way toward an increasing concentration of preferred locations, a pecking order of houses dominating some seven blocks across 45th Street paralleling the north edge of the campus.

Circumstances have increasingly led to a cohesion that is the UW's Greek Row of 2001. A unique environmental expression, perhaps it's a circling of the wagons, but more likely is a built environment that reflects the human search for identity, belonging and status that the Greeks hope to find in their Row and its togetherness. —Architecture Professor Emeritus Norman Johnston, '42, was a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity when he was a UW student. An expert on UW campus architecture, Johnston is the author of The Fountain and the Mountain and a guide titled University of Washington recently published by the Princeton Architectural Press.

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.
Pi Beta Phi Pi Beta Phi Theta Chi Theta Chi Pi Kappa Phi Pi Kappa Phi Gamma Phi Beta Gamma Phi Beta Phi Gamma Delta Phi Gamma Delta Sigma Alpha Epsilon Sigma Alpha Epsilon Sigma Chi Sigma Chi Kappa Kappa Gamma Kappa Kappa Gamma Delta Upsilon Delta Upsilon Sigma Kappa Sigma Kappa Phi Delta Theta Phi Delta Theta Theta Xi Theta Xi Delta Chi Delta Chi Delta Kappa Epsilon Delta Kappa Epsilon Sigma Nu Sigma Nu

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