Phi Mu sorority continues to reinvent itself

Greek house has long history of renovations

POSTED AT 12:00 AM ON Oct. 19, 2006 


As several sororities and fraternities on campus continue to grow and evolve, many Greek houses have had to deal with change. The Phi Mu house, a sorority located on the North Jordan extension, is just one house to have recently renovated to accommodate the needs of its members.

Some of the most recent renovations included the installation of a new furnace and an update to the house's security system, but the basic structure of the house remains. Minor redecorations have freshened up the interior of the dining room and the hallways of the upper floors. As far as funding for such projects go, Jane Land, president of the Phi Mu House Corporation Board, said, "Money for basic redecoration comes from funds that have been saved, but larger projects require the aid of bank loans."

Despite the expenses, the cost for sorority members to live in the house has not changed.

"We just installed wireless Internet access over the summer, too. The house is well-equipped as far as technology is concerned, which is nice because it means that it's not the end of the world if I run out of printer ink or my laptop freezes up," junior Kate FitzGerald said. "Our computer lab has both Macs and PCs also, which is great."

In terms of when renovations occur, Land said, "Renovations and redecorations are based on need and follow a cycle from year to year, just like in any of the other Greek houses."

To avoid disruption to the 92 women that live in the house during the year, most renovations are carefully planned to occur in the summertime when the house is vacant. The schedule for these renovations is rather tight.

"Usually, any necessary work begins the day after move-out, ending about a week before the new semester begins," Land said.

Phi Mu has enjoyed a long history at IU, with the original installation of the sorority Feb. 7, 1920. The group had 19 members, according to "The History of Phi Mu." A house for 40 was built in 1926 where the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center stands today, but chapter operations ceased in 1964.

Oct. 3, 1980 marked the return of Phi Mu to campus with the initiation of 76 members who would, for the time being, live on the seventh floor of the Poplars Building located at Seventh and Washington Streets.

It was not until 1988 that Phi Mu had an actual home to call their own, when ground was broken for the $1.2 million house. Funds to build came mainly from alumni, parents and sorority members, according to an October 1988 IDS article. The first sorority members moved into the house in 1990.

"I love living with my sisters. There is always someone to talk to or study with, and some of my best friends live here with me," FitzGerald said. "But the fact that the house itself is so pretty and well-furnished is also a plus. Our housing corporation definitely takes care of us."


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