ATO house used to belong to pres­ident of Hillsdale College | Col­legian

Although fra­ternity houses and pres­i­dential res­i­dences typ­i­cally don’t have much in common, Sun­ny­crest is an exception. Cur­rently home to the Alpha Tau Omega fra­ternity, Sun­ny­crest was for­merly the res­i­dence of College Pres­ident Joseph Mauck in the early 20th century.

When 1875 Hillsdale alumnus Joseph Mauck returned to the college to serve as pres­ident in 1903, he and his wife bought the house sitting at the corner of Hillsdale and Fayette, known as Windsor Castle, and renamed it Sun­ny­crest. Mauck pur­chased the house from Former College Pres­ident John Windsor who had lived in the house for more than 40 years after building it himself.

Until Broadlawn was built to serve as college-owned housing for the current pres­ident, each pres­ident was respon­sible for pur­chasing their own home, according to Public Ser­vices Librarian Linda Moore.

Despite the financial struggles of the Great Depression, the Maucks used Sun­ny­crest for enter­taining, which included hosting annual senior break­fasts.

Members of the Mauck family con­tinued to live in Sun­ny­crest, including four of Mauck’s daughters. Wilfred O. Mauck ‘21, son of Joseph Mauck, moved into Sun­ny­crest in 1933 as pres­ident of the college, before moving into Broadlawn upon its com­pletion in 1936.

In Sep­tember of 1939, defective wiring in Sun­ny­crest caused a fire which damaged most of the house, garage, and parked cars. Plans for repair were arranged and com­pleted soon after.

“Approx­i­mately seventy-five percent of the house and fur­nishings were either com­pletely demol­ished or par­tially damaged,” according to the Col­legian.

A few years later, World War II began and changed the student makeup of the college. Many national fra­ter­nities promised not to revoke charters for war-caused man shortages. Prior to the draft that took many Hillsdale men off campus, fra­ter­nities were already planning post-war recon­struction, the Col­legian reported in Feb­ruary of 1943.

ATO was one of the fra­ter­nities to follow through with these plans. ATO alumni first pur­chased Sun­ny­crest in the summer of 1950, five years after the war ended, ful­filling a longtime dream of the fra­ternity to own a house.

Prior to life at Sun­ny­crest, ATO actives had lived in the Griffith House on the corner of Union Street and East Fayette Street, beginning in 1915. ATO left the Griffith House to live in Herron Hall which was later demol­ished and replaced with Koon Hall.

As of August 1, 1950, wives of ATO alumni began fur­nishing Sun­ny­crest and preparing for that fall when it would go on to house 30 men, making it the largest fra­ternity on campus.

The third floor con­tained a ballroom, which, The Col­legian reported, alumni remember as the location of many college func­tions put on by the Maucks. The summer prepa­ration included con­verting this ballroom into a large dor­mitory, equipped with 15 bunked beds. The house had no major ren­o­va­tions, including any struc­tural changes.

“We very much appre­ciate the history of our house,” senior and ATO Pres­ident Josh Pradko said. “Because the house was for­merly a very nice res­i­dential place, it looks beau­tiful from the outside; on the inside, a lot of the original beau­tiful aspects, par­tic­u­larly the woodwork, remain.”

Sun­ny­crest remained untouched until 2000, when alumni decided it was time to take action in improving the house. At home­coming of that year, alumni Paul Schlatter ‘72 and Kim Beck ‘75 saw the need for major changes. The ATO Alumni Board met in January 2001 and decided to com­pletely ren­ovate the house.

A group of alumni showed up that summer to begin ren­o­va­tions.

“We had 30 or 40 alumni there, getting it down to its bare bones,” Tony Gwilt ‘90 told the Col­legian in 2014.

According to The Col­legian in 2001, the ren­o­va­tions included a new roof, new hardwood floors, new mat­tresses, porch rails, wall­pa­pering, car­peting, recon­struction of staircase railing and bal­conies, new fur­niture, land­scaping, and fresh interior and exterior paint.

The fra­ternity also built an annex in downtown Hillsdale for the fra­ternity to use for social func­tions to ease use of the house. With these $400,000 worth of changes came restric­tions, such as the strict imple­men­tation of a no drinking in the house policy.

Alumni assisted with recent Sun­ny­crest improve­ments, including redoing the siding in addition to redoing the bathroom this past summer.

“Part of the reason the house looks so good is that our alumni have invested a lot over the years in main­te­nance and improve­ments,” Pradko said.

The house is cur­rently used as a sanc­tuary for members of ATO to eat together, hold chapter meetings, and hang out, according to  Pradko. They used to have a cook who put their kitchen and dining room to good use; however they don’t have a cook this year and are cur­rently looking for one to start a house meal plan again in the future.

This fall, twelve active fra­ternity members live in Sun­ny­crest. Sophomore and ATO member Owen Macauley said he appre­ciates Sunnycrest’s fra­ternal and pres­i­dential history.

“There’s some­thing cool about living with all your best buddies in the same house where men with the same prin­ciples as you lived 50 years ago,” Macauley said.