The new FarmHouse fraternity, completed in just eight months, is approximately 20 percent larger than the original structure (below), which was built in 1967.

FarmHouse rebuilds on same site in just eight months

By Tom Campbell | Published Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Fifty-eight members of FarmHouse fraternity could not have asked for a better Christmas present. When they returned from the holiday break, there it was, on the corner of Russell and State Streets in West Lafayette, all shiny and new and ready to be opened. A brand new chapter house.

“People were so excited to move back in they actually started coming back to campus a week before the start of classes,” said junior Luke Everett, “And that never happens.”

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The original FarmHouse fraternity, built in 1967, became outdated and needed replacing. Building the 26,000-square-foot replacement on the same property took just eight months to complete.

“We actually started talking about building a new house about eight years ago,” said Brent Bible, BS ’98, a FarmHouse alum, Tippecanoe County farmer, chapter adviser and a trustee on the fraternity’s foundation board.

But from demolition of the old house on May 10, 2015, to the time the fraternity received its certificate of occupancy Jan. 11 of this year was only 245 days.

“It was amazing how quickly everything came together,” Bible says.

As soon as finals were over in May, students vacated the facility. When they returned for the fall semester, Williamsburg on the Wabash apartments became their temporary home. The project was fast-tracked so the members would be out of the house for only one semester.

“Once the students are taken out of their normal environment,” Bible said, “student productivity, both socially and academically, goes down. We wanted them to return to their normal environment as quickly as possible.”

A construction job of this magnitude would normally take around 14 months to complete, Bible said. That FarmHouse got it done in eight wasn’t easy.

“I was concerned every day that we weren’t going to get it done on time,” he said.

As an insurance policy, FarmHouse extended its apartment leases through the end of January just in case the new site was not ready for occupancy by the start of the spring semester.

“It was a very intense operation,” said Bible, who was on-site daily to oversee construction for the final 90-days of the project. “I found myself second-guessing just about everything, but we never hit the panic button. It’s very fulfilling to see how everything came together.

“And we couldn’t have done it without the help of the university. Once we decided we wanted to stay at the same location, the university became a great partner in helping us get everything done on time.”

Fraternity board members considered moving to a different location and building at a more traditional pace, but they eventually decided not to surrender its central campus site.

“Our proximity to the College of Agriculture campus, which is right across the street, is very important to us,” Bible said. “While we are not exclusively an agriculture fraternity. We have always appreciated our relationship with the college.”

The fraternity will host an open house Feb. 1 from 4-6 p.m. for faculty and staff of the College of Agriculture.