A local college fraternity house is rising from the ashes as part of $16 million worth of construction projects at the school.
Randolph-Macon College in Ashland is rebuilding a house for its Theta Chi chapter, replacing a home that was destroyed by a 2012 fire. The school is also nearly set to unveil a new $15 million, 50,000-square-foot residence hall.
Paul Davies, Randolph-Macon’s vice president of finance, said the dormitory is located on the south side of Day Field, where Randolph-Macon football games are held. It has 30 four-bedroom, two-bathroom residences each with a common kitchen and living area. The $15.3 million facility, named Birdsong Hall, can house 120 students and is reserved for seniors.
“We made it transitional for students as they move from college to the working world,” Davies said. “They have their own laundry facilities and don’t have to participate in our dining plan.”
The building is named for 1949 alumnus Thomas Birdsong III and his family company the Birdsong Corp. Construction is being funded by a $2 million gift by the Birdsongs.
Lynchburg-based English Construction served as the general contractor for the dorm, Davies said. Work began in 2013 and the finishing touches are being put on in preparation for students’ return to campus.
Birdsong Hall includes a pavilion with three classrooms that accommodate up to 200 people when converted to a banquet-style setup. Davies said they’ll use the space to host college and community events.
The building will be fully occupied for its inaugural semester.
“It filled up right away,” Davies said. “And we had a waiting list.”
Current enrollment at Randolph-Macon is just a little over 1,400 students – the highest it’s been since the college was founded in 1830. Davies said the college is trying to grow to 1,500-plus students and needed more housing space. Tuition is $35,360 a year, according to the college’s website.
Nearly 80 percent of Randolph-Macon students live on campus. The college also offers traditional dorms and townhouses, in addition to the new suite-style living.
Work on the new 2,900-square-foot Theta Chi house at 113 College Ave. is expected to be completed in time for the 2015 fall semester, Davies said.
No one was injured in the 2012 fire that destroyed the original house and the cause was never determined, the college said.
Randolph-Macon obtained the College Avenue property from the fraternity after the fire and is financing the $1 million cost of the new build. Davies said the estimate includes furniture, appliances, landscaping and more.
The space will accommodate 14 students, about half of the fraternity’s campus membership.
Randolph-Macon has seven active fraternities and three active sororities on campus. The college owns four of the fraternity houses and one sorority house, Davies said. Owning the houses allows the college to maintain the properties and repurpose them in the event one of the Greek organizations leaves campus.
A.C. Bruce in Ashland is the frat house’s general contractor. Davies said the new house was designed to fit in with the look of the fraternities on either side of it.