Barry McNamara  |   Published November 03, 2016

Right next door

Women of Kappa Kappa Gamma have new home on Broadway
  • The women of Kappa Kappa Gamma with their new house at 915 E. Broadway.
The women of Kappa Kappa Gamma had hoped to get a new home for several years. As it turns out, their solution was right next door.

Earlier this year, Monmouth College purchased a new home for the chapter, at 915 E. Broadway, one door down from where seven Kappa members have been housed since 2010.

With 3,516 square feet – including eight rooms and four bedrooms on the finished first and second floors – the home offers a much larger space for meetings of the women’s fraternity, which was founded in 1870 at Monmouth. In fact, in recent years, some Kappa meetings were held in the Center for Science and Business because the chapter’s former house was too small.

“We love how much space it has,” said chapter president Jessica Irons ’17. “We can be in our own space, and also have things all together as a group.”

Although the new house is 120 years old, it has been extensively renovated. It sits on a large 33,062-square-foot lot that includes a tennis court and detached two-car garage.

“We can utilize it for ritual events, and for other activities,” said past president Maggie Brundige ’17, who added that even the tennis court has become a useful space, serving as the site for “sisterhood” events. “It’s amazing what we can use that space for.”

Brundige said that she and her sisters had originally envisioned moving into a newly built house, but that mindset changed after they saw their new residence.

“We’re feeling awesome about it,” she said. “With not having to construct a new home, we now have the budget to really personalize the home to Kappa. And it still has the feeling of an actual home – cozy and quaint.”

Thanks in part to the efforts of Kappa members over the summer, the house was ready for fall meetings. Some additional work is required for women to live there, such as bring the house up to code with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“There are some things to do to make it ADA-compliant, and there are also some safety projects that need to be completed, such as escape exits and sprinklers,” Irons said.

Kappa alumnae are equally excited about the chapter’s new house.

“It’s important that the girls have a place to congregate and to carry on the self-growth and intellectual excellence that is such an important part of being a Kappa,” said Nancy Speer Engquist ’74 of St. Charles, Ill., a member of the College’s board of trustees, who donated to the project. “It’s a huge improvement, and the girls have real ownership and real pride in making it a better place. They’ve cleaned it, they’ve decorated it, they’ve brought in furniture – they put in a huge amount of work before school started.”

Engquist’s funds named rooms in honor of two Kappas: Brundige, who Engquist said exemplifies “the future” of Kappa; and Gena Corbin Alcorn ’88, who was honored as the College’s Greek adviser of the year last spring.

“They can meet there, but they aren’t living there yet,” Engquist said. “So it’s important to note that this is only a beginning. We need to raise several hundred thousand additional dollars to repair the house, add an elevator, finish the third floor, make the house compliant for safety standards.”

Karen Barrett Chism ’65, who also supported the project, said the new house is “a very elegant home.”

“I think it is very well-suited to the historical surroundings,” she said.

Chism is also proud of Kappa Kappa Gamma’s contribution to the history of the College.

“It has a rich history that cannot be ignored,” she said of Monmouth’s status as the birthplace of two national sororities, the other being Pi Beta Phi in 1867. “It ties into a long history of advocacy for women’s education. Since the 19th century, Kappa has promoted women to serve in leadership roles, both in their organization and for prominent roles in their communities.”

The current leader of Monmouth’s Kappa chapter appreciates the new home and what it will mean for the organization.

“We love it,” Irons said. “Every time you walk by it, it gets a little more special. It’s really boosted the morale of our chapter. We want to give huge thanks to the school administration for being able to work with us. They’ve helped us tremendously.”

And Brundige said the timing couldn’t have been better.

“This was definitely needed, with our membership growing above 60,” she said. “This house came along at the perfect time.”
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