PULLMAN, Wash. — After a long, long wait, Delta Chi Fraternity has a brand new house on the Washington State University campus. The 10,000-square-foot brick facility is scheduled to be completed in time for the start of fraternity rush at WSU Sunday. Earlier this week, work crews were pouring a concrete walkway in front of the $1.5 million fraternity and installing handrails along the stairway leading up to the front door. New furniture arrived days earlier and was still under wraps.
The house is located in the heart of Greek Row, on the corner of Campus and Monroe Streets.
“When I came into the fraternity in 1965, we were talking about building a new house. Now, 33 years later, it is done,” says Tom Nihoul, a 1969 graduate from Spokane. He is president of the Delta Chi Fraternity Alumni Association.
Construction began late last year by Paras Brothers contractors of Spokane. The house was designed by Portland architect Richard Eslick, a 1967 architectural engineering graduate and Delta Chi alumnus.
“We wanted a very modern look and, at the same time, a traditional look,” said Nihoul.
A concave exterior back wall on the second level of the rectangular building gives it a futuristic look. This is the sleeping porch for 48 men in bunk beds. Two four-man study rooms with skylights are located on the second level, with individual study rooms for the house president and house manager at each end. There also are two restrooms on this level. Stairways from both the north and south provide access to the second story mezzanine that overlooks the combined dining and living room with a brick fireplace on the south end. A high vaulted wood ceiling and large windows give the house an open feeling.
The 16- by 30-foot chapter room is on the ground level, with the entertainment room and fireplace on the front side of the daylight basement. The room opens up to a covered patio on the south end. Above the patio is a deck.
The house is equipped with wheelchair access and an elevator. Parking is provided on the north and east sides for 17 cars.
“We didn’t spare anything,” said Vern Divers, chairman of the Delta Chi alumni association finance committee, as he conducted a tour of the house. “We want everything to last.”
Divers came to WSU in 1940 from Goldendale and was the first house manager of Delta Chi. The fraternity was known locally as Delta Sigma Zeta when it started at Washington State in 1928 and received its national charter as Delta Chi in 1943.
Divers explained that the fraternity twice owned property. At one time, in fact, Delta Chi owned two houses side by side. One of those houses on the corner of Campus and B streets, was once owned by Washington State Athletic Director J. Fred Bohler, for whom Bohler Gym is named.
Delta Chi fraternity went inactive on the WSU campus from 1971 to 1986, when it regained its national charter.
In recent years, the Delta Chi Alumni Association purchased the property on which the new house sets. The association signed a long-term lease to a dozen or so Delta Chi alums who built the house and now lease it back to the alumni association. Arend Dawson, a 1965 graduate in business administration from Spokane, serves as president of the the fraternity’s building corporation — Delta Chi Homebuilders of Washington, Limited Liability Company — that includes the group financing the fraternity.
Raymond Seely, a 1933 graduate in electrical engineering and early Delta Chi member, was a major donor to the project. He worked for the Bureau of Land Management on the Coulee Dam project, and now is retired in Fairfield.
“This is the first time we’ve occupied a new house, so it is special,” says Divers.
Nihoul adds, “When I was a student, Vern was on the alumni board of trustees. We need guys like him. He’s a real example for those students coming into the house to stay involved. Delta Chi is for a lifetime.”