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Alpha Chi House Comes Down

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IOWA CITY - A historic Iowa City building is no more. Demolition crews finished the job Wednesday started by last April's tornado. All that is left of the building generations of women called home is rubble and debris. The house came down in a matter of hours, but the memories will last a lifetime.

It was another in a long line of emotional mornings for the members of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority. Their home for more than 90 years was torn down in just a few hours. April's tornado made the sorority house unsafe to live in. Demolition crews finalized the inevitable.

Sorority member Niki Branig said, "I think we've all had a homesick feel. We wanted to go home to 828 and now we really can't."

As the walls came crashing down to the ground, memories resurfaced in the sorority members' minds. Memories like life in the oval office.

Alpha Chi Omega president Leslie Jensen said, "Place where so many presidents lived and so it connects me with so many women."

And late nights spent in the kitchenette.

Branig said, "Hang out and stuff our faces and it was one of the funnest times sitting there for hours and laugh about nothing."

Years ago, the sisters named each room in the house. The meat locker was always cold. The inferno was always hot. The rooms are gone now, and for some of the sisters, good riddance.

Jensen said, "I think it was a hindrance to move forward and now that it'll be down we can start to move forward."

The current sisters have no choice but to move forward. They are losing a lot of history with this house, but with each piece that comes down is the chance to create new memories and stories. New memories in a new house could come as early as 2008. The sorority hopes to have a new house on this plot of land by the start of the fall semester. Then Alpha Chi Omega will go from having one of the oldest Greek houses to the newest.

Email Steve Nicoles at

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