The girls with ‘The Yellow House’

By Mikayla Ostendorf

Greeting passersby with its bright, unusual color, “The Yellow House” sits on the corner of First and Chalmers streets on the outskirts of “senior land” — a place where many students choose to reside during their final year at the University.

When inviting guests over, Riley Dunne, senior in Nursing, said she describes her residence as the “big yellow house, and it kind of looks like its about to fall down.”

In fact, during a recent flight from Champaign, Leah Horton, senior in ACES, who lives in the house, could see The Yellow House from the plane window.

The corner lot house includes seven bedrooms, three bathrooms, a living room and a kitchen, Dunne said, all for seven seniors to share. They described the location as ideal — sandwiched between frat houses, dorms and senior land. It lets its residents, who all met through the Delta Zeta sorority, get a taste of all aspects of campus life.

Before sorority sisters occupied the house, Illinois football players lived there.

Angie Flanagan, a 2012 University graduate and an alumna of Delta Zeta, said she and her friends signed the lease for The Yellow House during her sophomore year and secured the property as their own for the following two years.

According to Angie, the condition of the house upon move-in was “really bad and gross. We had to do a lot of cleaning up of stuff.”

The girls made the home their own by painting walls and remodeling some rooms into bedrooms to accommodate the seven residents.

During the first three weeks of her senior year, Angie and other residents brought out a slip and slide.

“Everything we did I feel was just more noticeable,” she said. “Other people did (slip and slides), but you live pretty much on one of the biggest corners of campus with a bright yellow house, (so) you are certain to get noticed more easily.”

Angie and her friends would also pull couches outside, grill and eat on the lawn, just as the current residents still do.

Horton’s sister Stephanie, a 2012 graduate, lived in the house and was looking to pass it down to younger members of the Delta Zeta sorority, so current tenants, Horton and six other girls, decided to take it over for the start of their junior year.

Shelby James, senior in Business and a current Yellow House resident, said they are friends with the two neighboring houses and enjoy mingling between the three houses.

“I open my window and I yell to my neighbors from my window, and we just go downstairs,” said Megan Flanagan, current Yellow House resident, senior in AHS and Angie’s sister.

Neighbor Brenna Koerner, senior in AHS, said that she enjoys football gamedays, when the neighbors will spend time on the front lawn and meet new people walking by the houses.

“(The Yellow House residents) are all very outgoing and different,” she said. “I feel like their personalities kind of match the house in a way, but in a good way.”

Koerner said alumni, including former Illini football players J Leman and Dick Butkus, come back to visit the houses. One of the walls in Koerner’s house features football player autographs, and the football team still uses the parking lot for a barbecue for the families of the football team after the Spring Game, Koerner said.

The Yellow House residents hosted “Yellow House, Yellow World” in the fall of 2013, a party where guests wore yellow, Megan said. She created the name when making the Facebook event, and it stuck. Megan said if partygoers weren’t wearing yellow, the color was drawn on their faces. The next day, yellow face paint covered the walls and front door.

Living in the house can be “chaotic. I just feel like there’s something always going on, especially now that it’s senior year,” Dunne said, but their shared campus coordinates bonded their friendships.

“I’ve become so close with them. It was one thing living in our sorority house, but it was another thing becoming more independent living with them and learning how to live with more than just your roommate,” Dunne said.

As Angie recalled, living in senior land had a “more home-y” feel, because “pretty much everyone knows everyone, and all of your friends are living in a smaller area, rather than separated all over campus.”

Now living in an apartment, Angie urged college students to live somewhere that will lead to memories. She said you don’t need to spend all this money on a nice place while in college, as it is more important to find a home that will provide happiness.

As a current resident of The Yellow House, Dunne said she most enjoys the nights spent staying in and watching “The Bachelor” on TV or watching HBO until 4 a.m.. Another pastime includes sitting outside and people-watching as freshmen go out for the first time on syllabus week.

“We had a pool party on the first warm day — we are probably the most spontaneous, outgoing (house), at least on a main road,” Horton said.

Mikayla can be reached at [email protected]