Alumni House was built in 1911 as the private home of Robert S. Brookings, then president of Washington University in St. Louis’ Board of Directors.
The house, originally known as Cecilwood, was designed by James P. Jamieson, whose firm, Jamieson and Spearl, succeeded Cope and Stewardson as campus architects. In addition, Jamieson himself designed many private residences in the St. Louis area.
In 1923, Brookings turned the house and the adjoining 40-acre parcel of land to the university for use as a chancellor’s residence. The house served as the chancellor’s residence until 1958, when the university acquired the house as 6420 Forsyth Blvd., now known as Harbison House. Chancellors who lived in Alumni House were:
- Herbert S. Hadley, 1923-1927
- George Throop, 1927-1944
- Arthur Holly Compton, 1945-1953
- Ethan A.H. Shepley, 1954-1958 (from 1958 until the end of his chancellorship in 1961, Shepley lived in Harbison House, the present-day chancellor’s residence)
Beginning in 1962, the house was designated as the center for alumni activities, giving it its current name of Alumni House.