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Updated 11:45 PM June 16, 2008
 

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Delta Upsilon reviews options after fire

Fraternity officials are evaluating possibly rebuilding the historic Delta Upsilon house after a May 30 fire nearly destroyed the 105-year-old structure.
A fire at the Delta Upsilon fraternity house, designed by Detroit architect Albert Kahn, nearly destroyed the historic structure. (Photo by Jillian Bogater)

The Ann Arbor Fire Department continues its investigation into what caused the blaze, which was extinguished by a team of 60 firefighters from Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti city and townships, and Pittsfield Township and Scio Township.

A passerby reported a porch fire at 5:46 a.m. and the first fire crews responding within 3 minutes found fire blowing out the front door, says Ed Dziubinski, Ann Arbor assistant fire chief.

No one was living in the fraternity at the time of the blaze because bathrooms in the house were being renovated. Typically in spring, five students live in the house.

Fire fighters left the scene at 3 p.m. but returned at 10 a.m. the following day to extinguish a "hot spot" that was producing smoke, the fire department reported.

Noted Detroit architect Albert Kahn built the home at 1331 Hill St. in 1903 as the first on-campus fraternity house, says John Markiewicz, president of the housing corporation formed by alumni of the fraternity. It is the oldest residential fraternity/sorority house at U-M still occupied by the organization that built it, according to the Michigan State Historic Preservation Web site.

Markiewicz and other members of the board overseeing fraternity operations were on site last week to begin the process of evaluating rebuilding scenarios.

"The exterior walls look pretty solid; there is extensive damage to the central core of the house," he says. A striking wooden fraternity crest designed by Kahn and displayed above the fireplace was damaged but survived the fire, Markiewicz says.

Since the house is on the state registry of historic sites, and also holds local historic designation, he says approval by these bodies may be necessary before rebuilding.

With 26 fraternity members planning to live in the house this fall, Markiewicz says the board would be looking for an alternate dwelling to temporarily house the fraternity.

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