As construction surrounds Alumni Hall, a building just to the west will start its own renovation starting this summer.
Beta Theta Pi (Beta) and the college have begun planning house renovation to restore the building to its former glory over the next three to five years. This is a change from original plan to replace the house.
“It just keeps that history there,” senior Beta President Cale Dahm said. “Everything that has happened in that house, it’s still going to be that house. We are going to change a lot, but it is still going to be that basic house … It’s going to mean a lot more.”
Before renovations begin, the 99-year lease with the college needs to be updated and renewed. Vice President for Finance Tom Axtell hopes to transfer the responsibility to the college to maintain the house and believes that it would benefit the house, the fraternity and the college.
“If it does shift to more control for the school, to us it’s the same thing,” junior Beta Vice President Nicolas Osuna said. “It takes the burden off our hands.”
The fraternity originally planned to replace the house, but due in part to urges from alumni to keep the house, the sheer cost of replacement and the realization that the house is not quite so bad after all, Beta hopes to renovate.
The prime motivation for renovation is keeping the house occupied during the school year, since the main purpose of the house is residential.
“It became clear that the college’s interest was keeping it as a residential facility,” Axtell said. “We don’t want to lose bed space.”
The first phase of the renovation will take place this summer with the installation of sprinkler and fire alarm systems.
Overall Beta hopes to double the lifespan of the house while bringing in modern amenities that are lacking from the 92-year-old house.
“Right now, if we are looking at a basic remodel, it would be extending another 90 years,” junior Beta Risk Manager Joe Puntoriero said.
The fraternity and administrators at Knox set up a committee to work out the lease renewal as well as the renovation plans. Dean of Student Debra Southern, Director of Facilities Services Scott Maust, Axtell, Associate Dean of Students Craig Southern, Senior Director of Major and Planned Giving Bob King, Puntoriero and others comprise the new committee.
“This is going to help change the culture of the house,” Puntoriero said. “Right now we have a fairly good image on campus, but having a new house and having a new mentality going into getting a new house is going to help change us around, help us get a little bit of a new culture.”