Since 1987, International House has provided IWU students the chance to live in a
community that is close-knit, yet transcends oceans and continents.
International House — known to most students as I-House — is the small-residence hall
of choice for close to 30 upper-division students each year. The 108-year-old house
offers a distinctive living experience both in its setting (which includes a large
but cozy common fireplace lounge, a library, and even a ballroom on the third floor)
and its purpose.
The classical-revivalist mansion was built in 1907 by A.E. DeMange, a prosperous Bloomington
citizen and owner of the Inter-Urban Trolley. After only a year of living in the house,
his wife died of natural causes, leaving DeMange grief-stricken and alone. He left
the house vacant but fully furnished for three years and then sold it to the University
Throughout University history, Kemp Hall served as a dormitory, a dining hall, and
administration offices. During World War I, the hall became headquarters for the Student
Army Training Corps. It was used during World War II as a Navy V-5 training facility.
Associate Dean of Students Darcy L. Greder was director of residential programs when
planning began to transform Kemp into International House. Greder chaired a committee
that developed the programming, recruited the first students and staff and worked
over the years to fine-tune the role of I-House in the residential life of the University.
In 1987, a ceremony dedicating Kemp Hall/International House included flags from the
nations represented on campus by international students.
The goals of I-House residents — which include both domestic and international students
— are “to increase understanding between students of different nationalities and to
broaden the perspectives of the entire campus with diverse cultural activities, educational
programs, and open-minded attitudes,” according to its mission statement.
I-House students have discovered that one of the best ways to broaden international
perspectives is to have fun. A social-event highlight for years has been the house’s
Euro-trance party, where students on campus come to dance to a style of electronic
dance music that originated in the late 1980s in Europe and includes light sticks
and other flashing toys. On Friday nights of Family Weekend, the house also holds
International Clue Night, an interactive, live-action murder mystery game featuring
characters representing countries from around the world.
International Thanksgiving dinners and Sushi nights (where students don kimonos) have
also become I-House traditions. But it’s the little things — animated conversations,
random gatherings on the stairs, debates on foreign policy — that International House
residents seem to prize the most.