The Hitchcock House Navy

Main Piece:

Informant: Yeah, here’s one, here’s one. This is, this is, this comes from pre World War Two. And this is the tradition that Hitchcock still has. So in UChicago, my little, like, house dormitory is called Hitchcock house named after a Mr. Hitchcock, who was murdered and his widow gave money to solve the murder and the murder was never solved. So he donated it to the University of Chicago, she donated it to University Chicago and created the house. The building itself is 120 years old and it’s like a National Historic bill. It’s an old ass building and so we have a lot of old tradition. Here’s one good one is…

 So we have a Navy. Every house has like house positions. Like, like, just like an Administrative Council, one of our positions is the Admiral and the Admiral’s job is to be in charge of the Hitchcock Navy and we didn’t know – we genuinely didn’t know where this came from. Up until this year because like the other positions are like House President, House Treasurer House blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. So yeah we have a Navy, apparently, and we joke that it’s the second biggest Navy on campus after the Sailing Team Because they have a boat. And, um, and it’s like in our like house constitution for as far back as people can find digital records. So, like, people would joke. Like, why in the world is there the Hitchcock Navy, why do they have an Admiral? Who knows. 


My informant is a friend of mine from high school who now goes to University of Chicago. He’s Scottish-Irish and his family on his dad’s side has been in America for hundreds of years. At UChicago, the dorm buildings are all very close-knit and it is not uncommon to stay in them for all four years of an undergraduate education. These dormitories are also very old, in the case of Hitchcock house, over a century old. And thus there are many strange traditions have been perpetuated without knowing exactly the source.


The informant is an old high school friend of mine. We’re both home due to online classes and we frequently call each other. During one of our calls over Zoom, I asked if he had any samples of folklore that I can collect and he shared a few.


I’m not really sure what to make of this one. UChicago is a very quirky, unique college, and this story seems to be one of many where traditions are born out of what was most likely an inside joke decades ago that has been perpetuated since. Chicago does lie on Lake Michigan so a “Navy” isn’t the most farfetched idea in that regard.

Doing some research, it seems that UChicago actually hosted some military forces, including some of the Navy during the second World War. Perhaps Hitchcock house hosted some Naval officers and the Admiral position was born out of that.