From IWU Magazine, Spring 2015 issue

I-House proudly flies its global banners



Former IWU President Wayne Anderson with International House’s first residents in 1987.

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 in 1912.

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.


At orientation, new international students enjoyed dinner on the porch of the 108-year-old mansion.

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. 


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