Kappa Kappa Gamma House
Austin, Travis County
The Kappa Kappa Gamma House was purpose-built as the seat for the Beta Xi chapter of the national sorority in 1939. On the northeast corner of 20th Street and University Avenue, it is in the line of sight of both the Texas State Capitol and The University of Texas at Austin’s famed Main Building/Tower. Characteristic features include the Ionic columned entry portico topped by a prominent pediment, stately brick construction, multi-paned windows, regularly spaced fenestration, a wide cornice, and elegant iron work.
Designed by noted Houston architect Birdsall P. Briscoe, the house embodies the distinctive characteristics of Briscoe’s blending of period revival styles as he interpreted them for a fraternal organization. Not only does the design project the refined and dignified image so desired by such an organization, but the interior plan also reflects the unique needs of private sorority business. Chapter houses such as this one had an important early role in women’s higher education at The University of Texas at Austin. They played a significant social and cultural role in the students’ character development—increasingly seen as an important and supplementary component to higher education—but they also filled a very basic housing need for women students during a time when the university could not.
The Kappa Kappa Gamma House was designated a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark in 1989 and a City of Austin Landmark in 2009. It was listed in the National Register of Historic Places at the local level of significance under Criteria A and C in the areas of education and architecture on August 13, 2013.