1002 S. Lincoln: A Wish Come True
The goal of the men of Nabor House throughout the late 1950s and early 1960s was to get a new home. The condition of the house at 811 W. Oregon was declining gradually. Major renovation would have to be done to bring it to a reasonable level of condition. And to increase capacity to the desired level would require expansion of the building. To get the end product needed, expansion and renovation would be too costly. Rebuilding at 811 was the goal of most Nabors.
New vs. Replacement House
In late 1959, the Fraternity Board contacted the architectural firm of Sauer, Matson, and Sanner about designing a building to be constructed at 811 W. Oregon. The firm did a preliminary study and drawing for a house that would accommodate 37 men. The estimated building cost was a minimum of $130,000. Demolition of the old house would have the Fraternity with a very expensive bare lot. And the actives would have to locate living quarters elsewhere for a year. After much discussion and debate over the economics of the project, the option of tearing down and building new was rejected.
Allan G. Mueller, '45, who served as Chairman of the Building Acquisition Committee, turned the efforts of the committee to a search for a suitable replacement building. He retained D. Earle Wilson as the Fraternity's realtor, listed 811 W. Oregon for sale, and began looking for a house to buy. Over a one-to-two year period, the committee looked at perhaps six to eight houses, only two of which were worth considering.
Bronze Sign A Gift
The bronze sign "NABOR HOUSE" that hangs over the door at 1002 S. Lincoln was a gift from D. Earle Wilson. Mr. Wilson was a campus legacy in the 1930s helping many agriculture students through college by employing them in his cleaning-laundry business on campus. He was especially sensitive to Nabor House's need for a new house. When he learned that 1002 S. Lincoln would be put on the market, he made the fact known only to Nabor House.
Former Houses Demolished
Nabor House's property at 811 W. Oregon, which the fraternity occupied for 26 years, was demolished in June 1980 and an apartment building was constructed on the site. The house at 410 W. High was demolished in the mid-80s.
1002 S. Lincoln Purchased
Over time, Mr. Wilson worked out an arrangement that made the house owned by Sigma Sigma Sigma Sorority at 1002 S. Lincoln Ave., Urbana, Ill., available to Nabor house Fraternity. He had the listing on both Nabor House and the "tri-Sig" house, and he represented the owner of a rooming house located where Krannert Center is today. The client on the Krannert Center site bought 811, Nabor House bought 1002, and the Tri Sigs were free of their property and would proceed to disband on the U of I campus. Mr. Wilson earned every penny of the three commissions he received because he spent weeks pulling the arrangement together.
Nabor House paid $7,500 for 811 W. Oregon in 1939 and sold it for $50,000 in 1965. The cost of 1002 S. Lincoln was $125,000, including the furnishings. With the $50,000 received from the sale of 811 W. Oregon, $19,755 from contributions to the building fund and reserves in the building fund, it was necessary to borrow only $52,000 to take over ownership of the property. It was possible to retain some moeny in the building fund to do some interior repairs and refurbishing and to handle emergencies.
A 20-year loan of $52,000 at five and one-half percent interest was obtained without a question from Urbana Savings and Loan Association, a subsidiary of Busey Bank. AT the closing, the bank representatives and the laywers for all parties stated that they could not believe any fraternal unit on the campus was in as good financial condition as Nabor House. There was one problem, however, the abstract had a covenant "that 1002 could never be used by a fraternity or sorority" signed 30 years earlier by local residents. Signers included two College of Agriculture professors, one in the Department of Agricultural Economics who was a staunch early supporter of Nabor House and one who headed the 4-H office. But, the problem was minor and was disposed of by the lawyers.
Prior to the time that Sigma Sigma Sigma occupied 1002 S. Lincoln, it was the home of Iota Alpha Pi. Illico, an agricultural student cooperative, lived there from 1939-43, when it closed its doors during WWII. Another agricultural cooperative, Hill Hall, merged with Illico in the spring of 1943, but both folded. Al Mueller lived in and was a member of all three cooperatives. He presented Nabor House with the sign of the Old Illico House and some funds that were left over when Illico failed. The funds were used to help reactivate Nabor House after the war. Al notes that he was one of only nine men in the College of Agriculture graduating class in 1945.