Before it was known as Helmreich House, 238 Maine Street was home to two fraternities. Sigma Nu occupied the house from 1921 to 1951, before selling the building to Alpha Rho Upsilon (ARU).  

German professor George Taylor Files and his wife commissioned the house, built as an early Colonial Revival structure with a gambrel roof in the Shingle Style.

ARU was a local fraternity formed in 1946, originating from the Thorndike Club for the five percent of students on campus who were not fraternity members. Ernst Christian Helmreich, a professor of history and political science, served as the advisor to the club, and oversaw its transformation into a fraternity.

ARU signified not only “Alpha Rho Upsilon,” but also as “All Races United.” On campus, ARU was better known as the latter. “All Races United” came from a desire to include students of all races and faiths in fraternity life at Bowdoin, including Asian-American, Jewish and African students who did not fit the membership criteria for other fraternities.

The fraternity offered a sense of identity and pride for its members. ARU wanted to change what it meant to be in a fraternity at Bowdoin and to make the fraternity system more accommodating. Bowdoin’s first female graduate, Sue Jacobson ’71, was an ARU member.

An underground group known as the Green Hornet Construction Company was an ARU trademark. The Green Hornet, started in the 1960s, would construct a structure on Monday mornings that was often a satirical statement on campus life.

One of its best-remembered pranks took place in 1973, when all pre-med students were required to take an introductory physics course. 

Professor Will Hughes decided that too many students in his class were unworthy of being doctors, so he flunked approximately one third of his class. He proceeded to throw away the exams and go on sabbatical, leaving a mess for the College to sort out.

 In light of this situation, the Green Hornet erected the Will Hughes Pre-Med Memorial Cemetery in the area where the Visual Arts Center is now. They put a cross in the cemetery with the name of each student flunked by Professor Hughes.

When new curbstones were to be laid out on Park Row, the Green Hornet took the stones and built a pyramid. The group then sent a bill for millions of dollars to the deans charging them for camels and help building the pyramid. 

Apparently this was not the first time the group billed the deans for a structure so a dean wrote back saying that he understood the workers were unionized, but that the price was too steep. This became a continuous back and forth between the Green Hornet and the deans.
In other shenanigans, the Green Hornet raided several farms and took animals to make a petting zoo to Bowdoin. A dean had to return sheep, goats and chickens back to the irate farmers.

ARU often won the fraternity cup that went to the fraternity with the highest collective GPA.
As such, Helmreich House carries a legacy of intelligent, diverse students, some of them dedicated jokesters, who sought equality and diversity and helped pioneer a change in the Bowdoin fraternity system.