Thanks in large part to its new fraternity house, Lambda Chi Alpha has seen the number of members in its University of Nebraska-Lincoln chapter increase by more than a third this year.

The fraternity now has more than 60 members, compared with 45 last year.

Their new house was a definite selling point, fraternity members said Thursday as they moved into the three-story building at 17th and R streets.

After a year of construction, the house replaces the old one at 1345 R St., which was about half the size of the new one.

"Moving in has been great," said Brandon Henderson, a junior business administration major. "The new house really seems too good to be true."

The fraternity traded its old property for the land at  16th and R streets and $193,000 from UNL.

When the group started relocation plans in fall 2009, more than 30 members were living in the building, often putting couches on platforms lofted just high enough to fit their beds underneath.

"These rooms are twice as big," said Aron Wehr, a sophomore advertising major. "Last year, my room was like a broom closet."

Members used to have to tell potential recruits they had room for only 30 men. This year, 20 new freshmen will get to live in the house.

"It's been nice meeting all the new guys," Henderson said. "I think the new house helped sign a lot of kids."

The new house, which Lambda Chi Alpha spent more than $2 million to build, also features a study room with enough outlets for everyone to use their laptop computers, a large kitchen and a bathroom on every floor.

Now, members said, they know they must take good care of it.

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"Way too many people spent way too much time for us not to worry about it," Wehr said.

UNL plans to tear down Lambda Chi's old house, but officials haven't said what will go into the space.

Meanwhile, fraternity members won't forget the old place. Columns in the middle of the main floor living room were built with material from it, and some of the old house's chairs have found a home in the new building.

"We still have stuff from the old house, but now we can expand and really grow," Wehr said.

"Last year, it wasn't bad," he said, then paused and looked around the living room of the new house he and other members will call home this year.

"Actually, no. It was pretty gross."

Alpha Delta Pi sorority also moved this year, into the Yates House at 720 S. 16th St. about 10 blocks south of campus. Over the summer, the sorority, which didn't have a chapter house before, renovated the 2 1/2-story building built in 1891.

Reach Paige Cornwell at 402-473-7126 or pcornwell@journalstar.com.

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