By the fall of 2020, brothers of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity will have a new house to call home. Construction of the two-story housing unit, to be located across the street from the fraternity’s current facility at 856 Madison Avenue, is now underway.
“The current SAE house has served our fraternity well for over 50 years,” said Mark Ibis, SAE Housing Corporation chairperson and a 1986 graduate of USD. “But it’s time to think about how we will serve the next generation of fraternity members.”
The new house will feature an energy-efficient HVAC system to reduce utility costs, a fully functioning kitchen so members can eat meals together, common spaces for studying and socializing, and an open-air courtyard for outdoor activities.
“Students want a safe environment to study and connect with others,” said Ibis. “They also want modern conveniences and comfortable living space at a reasonable cost. The new SAE house is designed to meet those needs.”
The home is also being constructed in anticipation of future growth in Vermillion and as a way to compete with amenities offered elsewhere, said Ibis.
“New apartment complexes and residence halls are being built to keep up with increased demand, which gives students more choices,” adds Ibis. “SAE is keeping pace by offering students a better, more connective living experience.”
The current SAE home was built in the early 1960s with move-in completed in 1962. Due to the age of the home, it is clearly outdated, said Ibis. No new fraternity houses have been constructed in Vermillion since 1969. Alpha Xi Delta built a new sorority house in Vermillion in 2017.
“856 Madison Street has been a part of South Dakota Sigma’s legacy for over 50 years and is showing its age,” said Ibis. “The needs of today’s students are being threatened by inadequate safety, outdated electrical wiring, and a dated facade. It has become clear that we must make a major investment in our chapter house if we are to remain competitive and provide a quality living environment that meets the needs and expectations of today’s students.”
The project will cost $3.5 million and is being funded by the SAE’s “Building True Gentlemen” campaign. To date, SAE alumni have pledged more than $2.3 million to fund the project, which is managed by Fiegen Construction of Sioux Falls. Visit the campaign webpage at www.sdsigmahouse.com to see a full list of donors to the project. Alumni or community members who wish to make a pledge or donation to the SAE project can do so on that site as well.
The new SAE home will accommodate 40 of the fraternity’s members. Once the new house is completed, the old house will be razed and a parking lot created in its place for the new fraternity. Building in a separate spot and keeping the old house going until move-in is available at the new home will cause as little disruption to current members as possible, notes Ibis.