Cover Story

Cover Story: Inside Urbana’s American Football House

At first glance, there is nothing really special about the home standing at 704 High Street in Urbana, Illinois.

Nestled in a row of homes along a brick road not far from the University of Illinois, this two-story white house could be written off as just another student rental that is only occupied late August through early May.

Rob Carroll photo

The roof needs some TLC. The yard is ready for some fresh greenery. That could be said for many of the houses in the 700 block of High Street.

Yet, people tend to stop for a quick photo of the house that was immortalized when it first appeared on the cover of one of their favorite albums.

The cover of American Football’s first album, most commonly referred to as “LP1,” features a nighttime photo of the house at 704 High Street in Urbana.

In the photo on the cover of the 1999 release, a light shines from the single forward-facing window on the upper level of the home. Above that is the high peak of the roofline that is immediately recognizable when driving by during daylight hours.

Rob Carroll photo

A 2016 Vice article used “decrepit” when describing the house in a profile. In the article, writer Sean Neumann catches up with Chris Strong, who captured the photo that is now immortalized on the cover of American Football’s debut album.

“I think the house is a thing because for 20 years, there were no visuals associated with the band at all,” Strong says in the interview.

American Football formed in Urbana in 1997 and went out to release an EP the following year. Band members parted ways just a few months after the 1999 release of “LP1.”

They would eventually reunite for a pair of shows in 2014 before finally releasing their second full-length album in 2016. More on that album in a little bit.

While the band was apart, the house at 704 High Street continued to build a reputation in a part of town denoted as “historic Urbana” according to its street signs.

Rob Carroll photo

A rental listing posted on Zillow boasts that the house “is as good as it gets for a student rental two blocks from campus.” There’s no mention of being featured on an album cover or a warning that grown-up emo kids will be stopping to take photos so you better keep the curtains closed.

According to the Zillow’s price history, the house was last listed for rent in November 2019 for $1,850 a month. It is a four-bedroom house, so you have the option to split the monthly rent with a couple buddies.

Here’s a look at the inside:

Living room

Zillow photo


Zillow photo

Upstairs bedroom

Zillow photo


Zillow photo

If you zoom in closely on the above photo, you’ll notice what might be some familiar woodwork on the side of the staircase.

Zillow photo

The house made return appearance to album cover glory when American Football released “LP2” in 2016.

And while the house has been a venue for parties and punk shows according to the Vice article, it also lives a fairly quiet life while University of Illinois students are in class.

If you are planning to make a trip to visit this American Football landmark, you can easily snap a couple photos of the exterior during the day without much hassle.

Just don’t expect to come back at night to create that iconic upstairs window glow from the 1999 album cover. You might find yourself in the middle of a college party.

Rob Carroll photo

This is part of an occasional series highlighting album covers inspired by and featuring locations throughout the Midwest. Check out additional Cover Story features HERE.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s