BOWLING GREEN, Ohio — The 34 members of Phi Delta Theta have new bait for prospective pledges: They guarantee a room in a grain elevator.
At first glance, the brick building next to Bowling Green State University that is housing the "Phi Delts" this fall looks odd, and it's hard to tell why. But the roof line gives a clue: It matches the silhouette of grain elevators that dot the countryside in northwest Ohio.
And until the Phi Delts decided this spring to move in, Bowling Green's Hub Grain Assn. elevator was just an old wood building next to railroad tracks, wearing weathered gray shingles and a "Master Mix Feed" sign.
The restored building, with a modern brick exterior and new walls inside, still has hand-hewn beams, in some places 2-feet square, and heavy wood walls.
Location, Location, Location
What fraternity president Shawn Mamasis and other members are sold on is location: one short block from the university's cluster of sorority houses.
"It's gonna be great," Mamasis says. "The location is perfect."
He isn't discouraged by the noise of trains running nearby, saying, "We'll get used to the sound, I guess." Nor is he bothered by jokes about living in a grain elevator at a rural university in a farm town surrounded by fields.
"It won't look like a grain elevator by the time it's finished. At least I hope not," he says, telling of a wood deck to be added to the front of the building.
"I guess it's quite the talk of the town that we're moving in here," he said. "I think most of the fraternities around here are a little jealous because we don't have to adhere to the campus rules that govern fraternities . . . they are extremely strict.
Proposed by Alumnus
"I think the other fraternities are worried that we'll steal all their pledges now that we have this."
Mamasis was not so enthusiastic last year when 1965 fraternity alumnus and property owner Robert Maurer proposed turning the elevator into a frat house.
"I couldn't believe it when I first talked to him about it. I thought he was crazy," Mamasis said.
Remodeling is costing about $500,000, which Maurer will finance. He will collect $375 to $525 per month from fraternity members who rent 12 apartments in the building, Mamasis said. The fraternity also will have two offices and a party room, the only part of the building that will resemble its original form.
It will take a while for the barn-like smell to disappear in the basement party room, Mamasis said, but he is counting on its retaining an air of rusticity--or something.
He also hopes the new house will upgrade his fraternity's standing on campus. Phi Delta Theta was kicked off campus four years ago after allegations of hazing and sexual harassment.
Current members were not involved then and have been invited back on campus but decided they would rather have a private house, he said.
"Before, we had nothing," he said, telling how they met in classrooms or at members' apartments. "With this house, we're hoping for it to just boom."