Kappa Living, Connection
Cindy Morgan Stewart, LSU, joined Kappa in 1979 and lived in the chapter house. It’s one of her fondest memories and where she built a sisterhood that remains with her today. Fast forward to 2015, and Cindy drew upon the love she had for living in the house when she was asked to join the House Board at Delta Iota Chapter, LSU. She agreed — if she could do some landscaping and fixing up. One of two licensed architects on the House Board, Cindy soon recognized that the house, built in the 50s, needed some work.
The House Board spruced up the curb appeal and made some improvements, but they determined the home needed major work to bring it up to current building code and provide a desirable residence for the live-in members who need reliable technology, a security system, accessibility and more. They enlisted experts to study whether a remodel or tear-down would be best and concluded that a complete tear-down was the best route. The chapter rented an empty fraternity house for a year to serve as meeting space, with no members living in.
Fusch Architects of Dallas, Texas, was selected to design the project, which was managed by The Kalos Group of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The scope of the project was for a 31,000 square foot residence to accommodate 71 live-ins, instead of 60 beds that the former home slept. Cindy and the House Board brought on Susan Trousdale, Alabama, the interior designer who completed the interior design of the chapter house at Gamma Pi Chapter, Alabama. Susan understands what it means to design a house for 71 live-in members, staff, a live-in house director plus the members who use the home on a daily basis for studying and gathering. The House Board felt an instant connection to her, through the mutual love of Kappa. “Susan and I hit it off right away,” Cindy says.
The active members were brought into the project as well. “We worked with the Facilities Chairman (formerly House Chairman) and formed a committee including interior design majors in the chapter,” Cindy says. The bedrooms are not cookie-cutter, with varying but complementary designs and special touches, like bedside niches for charging devices. The painted brick neoclassical home blends modern, classic and traditional design, and has touches of “Southern flair,” Cindy says. The stunning new home includes an elevator and accessible bathrooms. In fact, the bathrooms are everyone’s favorite. The open, spa-like design includes dressing space galore, private showers and individual lockers for each member. No more shower caddies cluttering the space, one of Cindy’s pet peeves with the old house.
During COVID when classes and exams were online, we had quiet, separate spaces, enough to spread out to study or eat, plus four outdoor spaces. In the bathrooms, we installed Plexiglass between the sinks
Another key feature in the new home is ample study and living space. “During COVID when classes and exams were online, we had quiet, separate spaces, enough to spread out to study or eat, plus four outdoor spaces. In the bathrooms, we installed plexiglass between the sinks,” Cindy says.
Like all houses, Cindy says it’s a work in progress. Futons were added this summer to the larger bedrooms for extra seating. But those are minor details. The real work — building a space where sisterhood and connection are built, Cindy can see happening before her eyes — in the members who gather there daily, putting down their phones to greet a sister, continuing the sisterhood that she learned more than 40 years ago.