Renovation set to begin at Sigma Phi Epsilon
Fraternity members said the construction would improve their living situation but not necessarily attract more students.
By Mike Nolan
Contractors will break ground Monday on a renovation project at the Gamma Chapter of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, 1645 Tennessee St.
The groundbreaking ceremony will take place in the house’s front lawn with a photo at 9:37 a.m.
Alumni donations along with other financing funded the $1.6 million dollar project, which will add a new living room, chapter room, computer lab, game room and additional member rooms.
Mantel Teter Architects of Kansas City, Mo., designed the renovation and Rau Construction Co., of Overland Park, will handle the construction.
Rau Construction expects the renovations to be completed by December.
The project will increase the size of Sigma Phi Epsilon by 2500 square feet but the chapter does not intend on increasing membership.
Tom Gray, Sigma Phi Epsilon corporation board member, said the renovation would make life better for the current and the future members.
“The primary focus is to enhance the quality of life for the members,” Gray said.
He said the project had been in the works since 1997 and the fraternity began raising money two-and-a-half-years ago.
Adam Price, Garden City junior and Sigma Phi Epsilon president, said the fraternity was looking forward to the house getting a face-lift.
“We’re really excited,” Price said. “We are still going to try and recruit good guys, but now we will have a nice house to brag about during rush.”
Price said Sigma Phi Epsilon would add additional member rooms in an effort to keep members around longer.
“We are not necessarily trying to increase our numbers,” Price said. “But we want to increase our retention rate, so we’re adding rooms in the basement for older guys to live in.”
Jeff Brown, Overland Park junior and rush chairman, said even though the construction wasn’t aimed at getting new members, it should help the house recruit members in years to come.
Price said the construction would only take place in the front of the house and would not inconvenience the members during the fall semester.
“The construction won’t affect us that much at all because we will go in and out the back and they will be out of our way,” Price said.
The construction will not take a toll on their pocketbooks either. The amount of donations was enough that house dues and fees will not increase because of the renovation.
Sigma Phi Epsilon, the nation’s largest fraternity, was started at the University in 1923.
James Naismith helped found the Gamma Chapter and served as the first chapter counselor.
The house was originally located at 1015 Emery Road, the current Delta Gamma house. Sigma Phi Epsilon sold its old house to Delta Gamma when its members left the University to serve in World War II. Sigma Phi Epsilon moved to its current location on Tennessee Street in 1949.