Fraternity and sorority houses, also known as lodges, are central to Greek life, providing a common place to live, play, and study and to develop the bond that is essential to a strong fraternity. Fraternities at UC began to live collectively shortly after their appearance on campus, renting rooms in boarding houses and hotels downtown and around the original McMicken homestead. Sorority women did not live together until much later, but held meetings, teas, and other activities at the homes of their members, hotels (popular choices were the Alms and Metropole), country clubs or the University ladies room. The first recorded purchase of a home is by Sigma Alpha Epsilon in 1910. Most Greek organizations fund the purchase of their house through a corporation set up by either an alumni association or the national office.
Both fraternities and sororities had housemothers during the 1950s through the early 1970s and sororities had them as early at 1940. The 1960 Cincinnatian gives us what seems and ideal picture of the housemother:
In their home away from home fraternity men and sorority women need a steadying influence—someone to whom they can take their problems—someone who will try to understand them for the persons they are. Such an influence are the fraternity and sorority housemothers. A relatively new factor in the Greek world, housemothers can now be found doing their work in every fraternity and sorority on campus. Their job is not an easy one for they must get along in a circle of close knit relationships—a circle in which they move and live as the only intimate authority of the outside adult world. They must adapt themselves to the unfamiliar and hectic life that is college. That they succeed is self-evident. When their proteges return home from a late date, they are there. When counseling is needed, they are always ready to lend a hand. Thus they move: quiet, unobtrusive, yet so important.
For fraternities at least, the housemother's role started to become obsolete by the late 1960s. On February 17, 1969, the IFC voted to make house mothers optional and sent the motion to the Office of Dean of Men for approval. The proposal was passed by the Board of Fraternity Affairs in April of that year.