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Greek Row Gets Facelift

Alumni Gifts Support House Renovations

Greek life at the University of Idaho dates back almost to the foundation of the university itself: Kappa Sigma, UI’s first Greek organization, arrived on campus in 1905.

The university recently celebrated its 125th anniversary, and the Greek houses are reaching milestones of their own, with many of them at or near 100 years on campus.

With that history comes aging infrastructure that’s no longer keeping up with the demands of today’s high-tech students.

That’s why nearly a dozen of Idaho’s Greek organizations have spent the past decade in a construction boom that’s brought more than $15 million in renovations and new construction to campus, nearly all of which was funded by alumni donations.

One of the most visible efforts is the construction of the new Delta Zeta house, located on the corner of Seventh and Elm Streets. That

$4.5 million building is set to be completed in August, giving the fairly new organization, which formed at UI in 2012, a permanent home.

The cascade of construction began a decade ago, when the Sigma Nu fraternity decided it was time to update its house at 718 Elm St. The renovation — which cost $2.3 million — started the domino effect of improvements among the Greek organizations, said Carl Berry ’76.

Last summer, Delta Delta Delta completed a $1.2 million renovation to modernize the sorority and continue to be an attractive option for students. 

“We had a reunion and you just had this sense that our living room was a little bit like going to a nursing home,” said Nancy Baskin ’83. “It was extremely dated.”

Beta Theta Pi hopes to complete its $2.4 million renovation this summer. Like many houses, the fraternity, originally built in 1925, did its construction over several summers to avoid having to shut the house down completely.

In addition to cosmetic updates and fresh paint, the houses focused on improving safety, such as installing sprinkler and alarm systems, widening hallways, replacing wiring, modernizing kitchens and updating electrical infrastructure and Internet capabilities.

The renovations are a boon for the Greek system and for students, who now enjoy safer, more modern living environments in the houses. Updating the houses helps bring in new members. It also has had an energizing effect on the alumni, who gave generously to support the construction for their house.

“The loyalty that members of the Greek living group feel toward the organization, to make sure that it doesn’t fail and it doesn’t stall, is amazing,” said Sigma Nu’s Berry.

The newly rebuilt Sigma Alpha Epsilon house.
Sigma Alpha Epsilon gutted its house and rebuilt from the studs up, as part of a $2.5 million remodel.

Projects

The UI Greek and private-housing
community has invested more than
$15 million in renovations and new
construction in the past 10 years.
  • ΣΝ $2.3M
  • ΣΑΕ $2.5M
  • ΔΔΔ $1.2M
  • ΦΓΔ $1.7M
  • ΒΘΠ $2.4M
  • ΔΖ $4.5M set to open August 2015
  • Farm House Fundraising ongoing
  • Steel House $1.3M planned for new house

A New Home for Steel House

Steel House, a privately-owned women’s cooperative, will break ground on its housing project this summer, says Sue Nesbitt ’64, a Steel House alumna and president of the group’s board of directors.

Steel has been leasing the former Delta Chi house at 908 Blake Ave. for several years. The new $1.3 million building will be located at 503 Taylor St., on land that was purchased by a board member. The goal is for residents to move into the new house in the fall of 2016. The new building will house 32 women.

Steel House is a unique living situation on campus. The cooperative offers reduced living fees in exchange for the women providing upkeep and doing most of the cooking and cleaning.

Article by Savannah Tranchell, University Communications & Marketing

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University Communications and Marketing

Phone: 208-885-6291

Fax: 208-885-5841

Email: uinews@uidaho.edu

Web: Communications and Marketing

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