Built in 1908, the Students’ Cooperative building is a contributing property to the Fraternity Row Historic District and is the second oldest chapter house remaining on University Avenue at the University of Minnesota.
Psi Upsilon Fraternity, founded at the University of Minnesota in 1891, originally commissioned and inhabited the house.
From 1940-onward, the building has been used as private student housing and currently serves as the Minneapolis-campus students’ housing co-operative.
Historic Name: Psi Upsilon Fraternity
Current Name: Students’ Co-op
Date of Original Construction: 1908
Period of Historical Significance: 1930’s
Years as a Cooperative: 83 (August 1940 – present)
This building is a contributing property in the Fraternity Row Historic District. 1721 University Ave. SE is the second oldest chapter house remaining on University Ave. and at the University of Minnesota. Despite alterations to the stucco and entry, it still exemplifies the scale and style of the pre-World War I period. This building followed the Chi Psi (1897; razed) Delta Kappa Epsilon (1906; razed) and Phi Kappa Psi (1907) chapter houses constructed on Fraternity Row, and its style reflects the early twentieth century preference for columned facades.
The Psi Upsilon chapter was founded at Union College in 1833 and at the University of Minnesota in 1891. Prior to the construction of this building, the chapter was at 1312 7th St. SE. By 1940 The Chapter moved into the former Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity house at 1617 University Ave., and appears to have been inactive by 1949. The building has since been used as private student housing and is presently the Students’ Cooperative.
The building at 1721 University Avenue S.E. faces south and is flanked by two fraternity houses of similar size.
It is a three-story stucco-clad building with a flat roof behind a peaked parapet. A raised terrace at ground level is faced in limestone. The stone is continued around the central recessed entry and water table of the first story and covers the original classical entablature. The terrace has a central stair and wrought iron railing. The vaguely Beaux Arts exterior has a recessed entry sheltered by a shallow portico with two fluted concrete Doric columns. Shallow pilasters at the second and third stories frame a central bay containing six rectangular windows filled with modern sash. Four slender windows (two with historic sash) flank the entry and the second floor windows.
The north, rear elevation is clad in painted common brick. There is a small one-story rear wing clad in narrow clapboard that rests on a high limestone foundation. Windows contain double-hung sash. The origin of this wing has been determined by professional woodworkers to be original, 100-year old wood, indicating this “extension” is actually original to 1908.
The building has seen many changes in a century of existence, but co-opers have initiated window and exterior restoration to Heritage Preservation Commission standards. The interior is currently being renovated for a new cohort of students in 2023.
New Stucco has been applied to the original stucco exterior and some historic details, especially at the entry, have been covered with stone facing. Modernization of most sash has been implemented, but there has been no alteration of window size. Current rehabilitation projects include: historically accurate stucco and facade repair, window replacement with historical accurate window muntins and northeast wing restoration. Stay tuned, or join the co-op and help us preserve history!
For a more thorough documentation of the building’s history, please visit the historic album at: podcast.studentscoop.org/album/pre-1940.