College Avenue is a residential area of large houses generously set back on spacious lots along a narrow, level brow of land between two slopes. This broad thoroughfare links Houghton and East Houghton, the area once occupied by farms, villas, and mining operations, and, after 1885, by the Michigan School of Mines, now Michigan Technological University. The most prominent early house, but no longer standing, was designed in the 1870s by Carl F. Struck of Marquette for Jay Abel Hubbell (1829–1890), lawyer, judge, and statesman who promoted the establishment of the Michigan mining school. Remaining houses include splendid variants of the Colonial Revival constructed for prominent local merchants, lawyers, mining managers, politicians, land speculators, and businessmen. As the college grew, it replaced many residences; fraternities took over others.
Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity, the former Allen Forsyth and Caroline Willard Rees House at number 918, is one of the most costly, handsome, and substantial houses on College Avenue. Overlooking Portage Lake the Colonial Revival house was designed by Henry Leopold Ottenheimer and built by H. Ferg in 1899–1900. The asymmetrical, two-and-a-half-story house with fluted Ionic corner pilasters has a squat two-story polygonal corner tower, and a two-story porch recessed beneath the hipped roof and supported by giant fluted Ionic columns. With its art glass, mahogany, and English oak, the interior equals the exterior in stateliness. Allen Forsyth Rees (1858–1944), a descendant of Keweenaw Peninsula pioneers, was a lawyer. His wife was Caroline Willard Rees (1857–1928).