The home of Millikin’s first president, Albert Reynolds Taylor, has come full circle
and is now the home of MU’s current president, Dr. Hal Jeffcoat and his wife, Marie. In 1918, Taylor and his wife, Minerva, had moved into their newly constructed homeon Fairview Avenue, never realizing that nearly 100 years later, it would house another university president.
Following Albert Taylor’s death in 1929, Minerva moved to Kansas with their two daughters, and the house was purchased by the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority. It served as their chapter house from 1930 to 1935.
The house was then briefly leased and also owned by Al and Iola VanZetti. Eventually, it was purchased in 1951 by Royce and Mickey Huss, parents of Dr. Stephen Huss, a current member of Millikin’s board of trustees, and his two sisters, Lynette and Martha. The Huss family occupied the house from 1951 to 2001. (Coincidentally, Mickey’s father was Rufus Bruner, a carpenter who helped build the house in 1918.)
According to Dr. Huss, houses lined Fairview Avenue at that time, and he and his sisters knew every family. The house next door on the north was the Pi Beta Phi sorority house, so there was
always a ready source of babysitters, too. To the south lived Eva Davis Casey, class of 1910, who often invited the children over to visit. Several MU professors also lived on the street, including Bonnie Blackburn, namesake of Blackburn Hall, who lived in a house where the Alpha Chi Omega sorority house is now located.
Following the death of Royce Huss, Millikin purchased the house and named it Huss House in honor of the family. The university used it as a guest house until 2011, when the Jeffcoats came to campus. The couple made it their home following his appointment as president, citing their desire to be involved in university activities.
“It’s great to have that access to campus,” President Jeffcoat said at the time. “I think it’s important that a president take a highly visible part in the life of the institution.”
Information obtained from a history written by trustee Stephen Huss
, husband of Carol Hopkins Huss ’70
and son of the late Royce Huss ’37
. compiled by Todd Rudat
, former university archivist.