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New Kappa Kappa Gamma house on Broadway is ‘everything and more’

Barry McNamara
From left, Emily Gabaldon '20, Katie Walker '18 and Elizabeth Smith '19.
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MONMOUTH, Ill. – Elizabeth Smith ’19 of Geneva, Ill., said the new home for the Kappa Kappa Gamma women’s fraternity has been better than advertised.

“It’s everything and more,” said Smith, when asked if living in the house is what she and her Kappa sisters hoped it would be.

Smith serves in the dual role of house chairman and house manager, with the latter role being similar to serving as a resident assistant in a residence hall. In that role, she is the go-to person among the six other Kappas who live in the house at 915 E. Broadway, just across from campus.

“The space is much bigger,” she said, comparing the 3,500-square-foot home to Kappa’s former house just to the west. “We’re able to have all our members in the house for meetings, and we also had a dinner with all of them here.”

When “all of them” gather, it’s nearly 60 women, which the former house could not accommodate. As a result, previous full meetings were held in a variety of campus locations.

“It’s absolutely gorgeous,” said Smith of the home, which sits on a 33,000-square-foot lot. “You feel like you’re at home. We really wanted to make sure it feels that way. We spend a lot of time in the Sisterhood Room, just watching a movie, or chatting and catching up on our day.”

The 121-year-old house was formally dedicated April 22, and Kappa Kappa Gamma members moved in for the fall semester.

“It’s brought me closer to my other sisters,” said Emily Gabaldon ’20 of Polo, Ill. “Everyone who lives here has become like my best friend.”

“It’s made me a lot calmer with my classes,” said Katie Walker ’18 of Knoxville, Ill. “I love that it’s really a place to come home. I can separate from what’s going on at school and just chill with my sisters. ... ‘Home, sweet home’ is a cliché, but it’s so true.”

The 2016 purchase of the home was underwritten by gifts, largely from Kappa alumnae. It overlooks the site of a wooden bridge where tradition holds that founders first met in 1870 to secretly plan the organization, which today boasts more than 260,000 members.

The women’s fraternity movement began at Monmouth College in 1867 with the founding of what is now Pi Beta Phi. Along with Kappa Kappa Gamma, the two women’s fraternities are known as the Monmouth Duo. Monmouth’s other women’s fraternity, Alpha Xi Delta, was founded nearby in 1893 at Lombard College in Galesburg, Ill.