Interest in having a chapter of Triangle at the University of Nebraska goes all the way back to the 1920s. Indeed, at that time there was a local engineering fraternity, Mu Sigma, on campus, but apparently it folded during WWII. In 1961 permission was given for Triangle to come to Nebraska. In January 1962 interviews were conducted on campus and soon a group of students formed the Nebraska Colony. Growth of the colony was rapid. By Fall of 1962 we rented a mansion built in 1890 at 1845 D Street, over a mile from campus called “the Castle” because of its round turret and battlements. The chapter was installed on March 16, 1963 with 30 men as charter members.
Within a few years we outgrew the Castle, and the chapter negotiated to rent a brand new university-owned house at 1235 N. 16th St. on the north edge of campus. There were 4 identical houses; only one exists today as the headquarters of the UNL Housing Department near Schramm Hall. We moved into the 62-man house in September 1967. The first two years were great and the total membership grew to 90 brothers. About 1969 the campus atmosphere changed a lot all over the country with the hippie movement and Vietnam War. Fraternities were thought of as passé and part of the establishment. Because of this and sociological mistakes made, 18 of the 27 pledges quit in January 1970. Many of the actives became less involved also. Many fraternity chapters around the country folded in this time frame. There were some bright spots at this time though. The 1971 E-Week committee always met at the Triangle house because over half of the committee were Triangles. It was a struggle to survive until 1977 when we recruited 32 pledges. We overfilled the house to 66 residents. 26 pledges were initiated with an average GPA of 3.4. The house was full or nearly full for the next 16 years. Indeed, the largest pledge class in our history at 36 was recruited in the summer of 1990. Most of the 1990s were still good with occupancy typically around 50. In 1993 Triangle President Rick Provasnik was selected to represent UNL at the commissioning ceremony of the nuclear ballistic missile submarine USS Nebraska whose nickname is “Big Red”. In 1995 the Nebraska Chapter made an emergency loan to the Iowa State Chapter of several thousand dollars so they could pay their property tax that was in arrears.
University officials in 2001 informally hinted that the long term plans of the campus did not include continued renting of the house. This plan was dictated by a reconfiguration of the city streets. Indeed, Antelope Valley Parkway would encroach on the northeast corner of the building. The alumni were making plans to build a new house for $1.8 million.
Although Triangle was never thought of as the party house on campus, Triangle members did not always abide by the university’s strict policy concerning no alcohol on campus. In September 2002 a university official entered the room of a brother to find him with a beer at 4:00 The two actives appearing did not handle the hearing well, and as such UNL evicted the chapter from the house. Within months our house and two others were demolished and became a parking lot. The chapter was without a home and membership declined. An internet forum was setup and the new Active President, Mike Waid developed a plan to keep up chapter activities and show the UNL administration that Triangle can be an asset to the campus. The alumni began a search for real estate in 2003.
Kappa Sigma with a house on Greek Row, was down in membership. Alumni President John Fifer and Chapter Advisor John Boye negotiated with Kappa Sigma and we bought the fraternity house at 519 N. 16th St. on June 6, 2003. Policies were set up to make the house alcohol free. It was built in 1955 and has 14,000 sqft. The rated capacity of the house, 66, is larger than any other Triangle house except Purdue. While Kappa Sigma was in the house at times they had an occupancy of over 70 in the 1990s.
About 25 Triangle members moved in August of 2003. A few years later, Triangle rented out the third floor to AXΩ Sorority for a semester to house part of their membership because they were remodeling. This spoke well of our reputation as gentlemen and indeed it worked smoothly. Also about this time an alumnus added some elaborate woodwork in the foyer and dining room to enhance the interior of the house. The occupancy and finances of the house were not great but we were making ends meet up until 2008 when the following two summers’ rush campaigns were very disappointing. Finances were also exacerbated by the need for a new roof on the living room. We were down to about 12 members in Fall of 2009 and we were looking to open a line of credit to be able to hold out thru the next summer, hoping for a turn around with one good rush.
Another opportunity presented itself. Another fraternity, Pi Kappa Phi, was restarting and was of a size that was interested in renting the Triangle house. Triangle made a decision that was in our view the best option: to take a hiatus and rent out the house.
This arrangement with Pi Kapps allowed us to build up a financial reserve and perform major work and upgrades to the house. Our Alumni Board of Directors were successful in recruiting a nucleus of members by the start of classes in the fall of 2016. UNL had a requirement that all fraternity houses have fire protection sprinklers by Fall Semester 2017. Unfortunately, there were delays in installing sprinklers at our facility and Pi Kapps declined to renew their lease. Triangle will be using the house as a base of operation until fully housing members in the 2018-19 academic year.