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The Story of Sigma Nu

Sigma Nu's past is a proud and colorful one. Founded by three cadets at the Virginia Military Institute in a period of civil strife known as the Reconstruction, Sigma Nu represented a radical departure from the times. The system of physical abuse and hazing of underclassmen at VMI led to James Frank Hopkins, Greenfield Quarles, and James McIlvaine Riley to form the "Legion of Honor" which soon became Sigma Nu Fraternity. So, amidst a backdrop of turmoil, North America's first "Honor" fraternity was established. In 1902, Sigma Nu's Gamma Nu chapter was established in Ann Arbor and has maintained ownership of the historic Albert Lockwood house at 700 Oxford road for more than 100 years. Today we remain committed to the system of non-hazing which our forefathers established, preparing Sigma Nu wolverines for a lifetime of brotherhood they can depend on.

 
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The Albert Lockwood House at 700 Oxford

Albert Lockwood came to the University of Michigan School of Music in 1901 as the Head of the Piano Department. When his parents, Charles and Albertine Lockwood, joined him in Ann Arbor he built a remarkable Tudor Revival house to be the center for their musical interests. Completed in 1910, 700 Oxford is composed of multiple units. The facade presents the appearance of symmetry with front-projecting gables at each end of the main roof. In keeping with the Tudor style, the exterior of the building is faced with light stucco and dark half-timber beams forming cross and loop patterns. The second story jetty further evokes the architecture of medieval England.

Every Tuesday at four o'clock, Albert Lockwood held recitals at one of the two grand pianos in the spectacular three-story dining room while students and neighbors listened from the surrounding carved wooden balconies and staircases. During colder weather a cheery fire burned in the impressive fireplace, offsetting the chill of the tall windows. Albert's own master bedroom, and a nursery opposite it, opened onto the dining room by way of the balconies. These are the finest rooms in the house, one with a bay window overlooking the back garden, the other with a handsome fireplace. The interior is rich with floors, balconies, banisters, and ceiling beams of black walnut. Shaped plaster, painted black, and carved walnut decorate the rooms and a large iron chandelier hangs from the ceiling.

Charles Lockwood died not long after the house was completed. When his mother Albertine died in 1919, Albert Lockwood sold the house to Sigma Nu. As former president Jim Doyle wrote: "700 Oxford was already magnificent when it was built. Today, that magnificence is increased by the knowledge it could never be recreated."

Source: Ann Arbor District Library