University to renovate Strong Hall for sorority housing

GW Housing Programs will renovate parts of Strong Hall in preparation for the building’s shift to Greek-letter housing this fall – including adding a backyard plaza to hold social events – a University administrator said last week.

Strong Hall – currently GW’s only all-female residence hall – is slated to house members of Chi Omega and Pi Beta Phi starting this fall. Renovations to the building, built in 1936, include making two community spaces lockable, updating two community kitchens and modifying the building’s entrance based on a new open plaza being developed between South Hall and Strong Hall, Seth Weinshel, director of GW Housing Programs, said in an e-mail.

Although the renovations are scheduled to take place, Weinshel said there is currently no estimation for the price of the renovations.

Victoria Hartman, president of Pi Beta Phi, said she is pleased with housing’s plans to update the residence hall and is looking forward to her sorority’s new space.

“Pi Phi is extremely excited for the continuing process of transforming Strong into a home,” she said. “All of the girls in Pi Phi and Chi Omega will have GWorld access to the building and there will be a cipher key in order to keep the piano lounge accessible only to Pi Phi.”

The new green space outside Strong Hall is another big attraction for the sororities, Hartman said.

“[We’re] also looking forward to utilizing the new green space behind Strong Hall for barbecues and other events,” Hartman said. “We are very happy with the continuing progress of transforming Strong Hall into Greek housing.”

Weinshel said the University is making changes to the building because the sororities asked for the changes to the space, adding that the current residents of Strong did not ask the University for these changes to be made.

“Some of it was in terms of being asked by the Greek chapters for some things they were looking for in terms of the common space and the kitchens, in order to make it so that the two chapters would have the same type of meeting space and kitchens like in [Townhouse] Row,” Weinshel said.

With the loss of the building as an all-female housing option for non-Greek-letter students, GW Housing Programs announced two alternatives in January – 2109 F Street and Mount Vernon’s Merriweather Hall – for women who wish to continue living in a single-sex environment. There are no current plans to renovate parts of 2109 F Street or Merriweather, Weinshel said.

Despite the anticipation felt by Strong’s incoming residents, some current residents who will part with Strong at the end of the school year are disappointed to be missing out on the building’s updates and convenient location.

“That’s the reason I chose to live in Strong, because of the location,” freshman Strong resident Paige Dingess said. “And the roof deck is so nice.”

Dingess also noted that kitchen upgrades for the sororities would have suited non-freshmen who live in Strong instead of other upperclassmen residence halls with private kitchens.

“If you’re a sophomore and you wanted an all-girls dorm, you don’t really have a kitchen here,” she said.

Emily Cahn contributed to this report

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