Posted By: Greg Silker
Date Added: March 5, 2013
More Info: Students transform an abandoned fraternity.
We first spied the old Theta Chi fraternity (now KPA) when it been closed for a year for six pages of housing code violations. It was such a mess that all I wanted to do after my first foray inside was take a shower. I remember sitting on the front lawn of the abandoned building and dreaming. And sitting up in bed almost in a panic, convinced that this thing had to happen. I remember during another venture inside the boarded building all of us running back down the stairs chased by a flock of birds who had taken up residence in the top floors, Katie Wingard (who along with her husband Matt became the first “house parents” of KPA) was screaming as we ran which freaked me out even more.
I shared the idea of creating a coffee house community in the building with a small group of friends, and we prayed together about it. Someone mentioned the verse from the Bible where Jesus said: “I will open a door that no one can shut, and I will close a door that no one can open” (rough translation from Revelation 3:7). That seemed like a good thought to us. On the one hand, it seemed unlikely that we would get the building…money…other interested parties. On the other hand, it was a daunting project. We didn’t want it if we were on our own (We knew we needed divine help!).
We put in an offer on the house. We were in the running, but about a month later we got a call. They went with another offer. End of story.
About a year later we got a call. “The other deal had fallen through. Were we still interested?”
Absolutely! We put together an offer equal to the asking price and worked through to a verbal commitment to sell the building to us. Then the phone calls stopped. About a month later, we got the word. They again went with another offer. End of story.
Another year passed, and we got another call, “The other deal fell through. We’re sorry about last time. Are you still interested?” We thought…and prayed and put in another offer equal to the asking price. Again, the phone calls stopped. Again we got the word. “We went with another offer.”
This time the deal went through. The building was sold, boarded up and prepared for demolition to make way for a larger complex.
For the next year and a half every time I drove past 16th and University I would look over my shoulder at the building and wonder “Why haven’t they torn that thing down yet?!” I wanted them to get it over with so I could forget about it.