Background

2251 College Building is one of the oldest buildings associated with the University of California, Berkeley. It is also one of the only brick buildings still left on campus. This building has been used as a fraternity house and a space research facility. The building is currently being used as an archeological research facility and partially as the Department of Anthropology.

The Zeta Psi fraternity – Iota chapter was founded in 1870, where it became the “first fraternity on the West Coast – indeed, the first fraternity to establish a chapter west of the Mississippi.” (Zeta Psi Fraternity). The fraternity needed a chapter house to facilitate them and thus a building was built at what was then the 2251 College Avenue location in 1876; the building itself was considered very luxurious for the time period since its Victorian style façade paired with running water and electricity in the interior was a sight not commonly seen. This house though was torn down and quickly replaced on the same location by the Zeta Psi’s in 1910. This second, rebuilt Zeta Psi House served as the chapter’s house from 1910 to 1956. By the 1950s, the Zeta Psi membership was larger than the 2251 College Building could accommodate, which is one of the main reasons the brothers decided to abandon the property. Another big reason for abandoning 2251 College Building was because the brothers felt they were isolated from the rest of Greek life as well as the fact that there was an increased number of fraternal competition. This was combined with the fact that there was increased amount of surveillance on their location due to the close proximity to UC Berkeley academic buildings. Thus, the Zeta Psi’s traded their property on campus with the university for the 2728 Bancroft Avenue – a building the university owned.

This location is currently being used to host the Archaeological Research Facility and the faculty offices of archaeologists in the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley. The structure mainly is similar to how the building was at the last rebuilding in 1910, with changes only due to necessary updates that have come with use and time.

While the campus address of the building is still the “2251 College Building”, it is technically no longer on College Avenue, since now the building is not on that street but is entirely surrounded by the university grounds. The address is a piece of heritage that the site will always be able to boast of and a way of connecting its past with the present.

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Posted on December 8, 2015, in 2251College, Anthro136kF2015. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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