By Talbert Toole
The Ole Miss Kappa Delta-Alpha Mu Sorority began the process of planning the demolition and construction for a new house on Sorority Row nearly three years ago when realizing the now-demolished house did not fit the needs of its current and future members.
Whitney Byars, a member of the Kappa Delta House Corporation Board (HCB) at Ole Miss said the board is responsible for maintaining the sorority house for members and providing meals, living and meeting space for chapter meetings and more.
Along with being a member of the HCB, Byars also represents the sorority as the chair of the building committee. She said the committee participated in housing web seminars with the national chapter of Kappa Delta in regards to building or renovating the Alpha Mu house.
The national chapter provided the Ole Miss committee with things to consider before taking on such a massive project, such as the number of current members and the size and condition of the current house.
In addition to receiving feedback and advice from nationals, Byars said the committee also researched other sorority houses in the Southeast region which included houses at Ole Miss, Mississippi State and the University of Alabama.
“We wanted to see what other sororities were offering their members,” Byars said.
Alpha Mu hired an architect to help evaluate the condition of the house that use to stand on Sorority Row to see if it could even be renovated.
Byars said the committee made the decision that a renovation did not make the most financial sense. With the house being more than 90 years old, the house had an abundance of problems and issues that were limited to its current members.
After having a structural engineer inspect the house, Byars said the decision was made that due to so many renovations that had been made to the house it was not as structurally sound as it needed to be. Continuing to renovate the house would make the house less stable and cost approximately the same as demolition and new structure, she said.
“At that time we decided it made the most sense to build a new house,” Byars said.
Demolition began at the beginning of June and is set to be complete by fall 2020.
The new house will look like an updated version of the old house, according to Byars. However, the new house will consist of first- and second-story balconies with french doors instead of regular windows. In addition to new features to the exterior, it will consist of group and individual study spaces, updated bedrooms, and larger social and meeting spaces, such as the chapter room.
The old house held 63 members in the sleeping quarters. The new house will be able to accommodate 85 members with seniors having priority after council officers, which includes some juniors, have been arranged in the quarters.
Members who are currently juniors will have the opportunity as seniors to live in the new house during the 2020-2021 school year.
Although other members will have to find other living options, the sorority will continue to provide space for meetings.
Byars said she is most excited about giving the members more space within the house. As students come to campus for classes in the morning, the majority remain on campus throughout the day. The additional space will provide Kappa Delta members with more opportunity to socialize, study and eat.