Illini 411: I lived at 804 W. Green St. during college and heard it was John Milton Gregory’s house. Is that true?

Question courtesy of Rob Barnes, ’85 BUS

Black and white portrait of William Abbott Oldfather William Abbott Oldfather, 1906 (Image courtesy of University Archives)
Question courtesy of Rob Barnes, ’85 BUS

A: Only if he’d been re-animated! Gregory, the University’s first regent, or president (1867–1880), died in 1898, while the house at 804 W. Green wasn’t built until 1920. However, it was the home of William Abbott Oldfather, an important classics professor who served the U of I from 1909 to 1945. A memorable campus character, Oldfather cut a striking figure with his pince-nez glasses and walrus mustache, and was just as well-known for his ardent pacifism and astute observations about international affairs. He publicly opposed the U.S.’ involvement in World War I, was vocal about the threat of fascism in Germany and Italy before World War II and, before his death, predicted what became known as the Cold War.

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