Tri Sigma recently announced plans to move its national headquarters to Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Throughout our relocation process, our top priority is to ensure there is no interruption in our day-to-day operations. To keep our members informed, we have compiled a growing list of questions in our FAQ below. A more detailed overview can be found in the most recent issue of The Triangle.
Effective immediately, all mail for National Headquarters and the Foundation should be addressed to 207 N. Muhlenberg St., Woodstock, VA 22664 until further notice.
The COVID-19 pandemic prompted many societal changes. Organizations across all industries and sectors—including NPC organizations—began rethinking the use of physical office spaces. Today, 75% of Tri Sigma’s full-time NHQ staff works remotely across 12 states.
Between the two buildings in Woodstock, 12,240 square feet is no longer needed to meet Tri Sigma’s space needs. While Walton House was once a more frequent destination for remote staff, volunteers, and visitors attending various educational and leadership opportunities, the space is no longer suited for this kind of activity. This, coupled with its fairly remote location (apx. 2-3 hours from a major airport depending on traffic), makes it difficult for efficient and affordable travel to and from NHQ.
In 2021, Executive Council sought a detailed, third-party feasibility study to revisit the physical space needs of the national headquarters and its archives. After extensive discussion and review of the findings—as well as a review of previous feasibility studies—Executive Council has determined it is in the best long-term financial interest of Tri Sigma to sell both Walton House and the adjacent administrative offices located in Woodstock, Virginia.
This will allow us to dedicate a larger percentage of resources to serving the needs of our collegiate and alumnae members.
Tri Sigma will remain in the administrative office in Woodstock until the end of the 2023-24 academic year.
We recognize the unique expertise that many of our staff members have related to the work we do, and we intend to honor that expertise.
We don’t have to have a physical administrative space in Virginia to celebrate our connection there. As the home of several collegiate and alumnae chapters—as well as thousands of individual members—Tri Sigma will continue to have a thriving presence in the Mother of States.
It may surprise you to learn that 80% of NPC sororities are located outside the state in which they were founded.
Nearly half of all 26 National Panhellenic Conference sororities have reimagined their physical headquarters in the past five years. Many have downsized to significantly smaller facilities, some are now 100% remote with no physical building at all. A recent survey revealed that 15 of NPC’s member organization’s HQs have moved a combined 40 times in the past 50 years.
When considering potential options for relocation and further study, Executive Council was presented with a list of twelve metropolitan areas. After additional research, the list was ultimately narrowed to Indianapolis, Charlotte, Northern Virginia, and North Carolina’s “Research Triangle,” which includes Raleigh/Durham, Cary, and Chapel Hill.
Executive Council also considered:
- Maintaining ownership of both houses and rent out the unused space. In addition to ongoing costly maintenance and upkeep, an estimated $353,325 would be required for repairs over the next five years. As such, expenses would likely exceed any rental income opportunities when considering average commercial rental prices in Woodstock.
- Selling only the administrative building. While this would allow Tri Sigma to hold onto the Walton House, we would not be able to make immediate administrative use of the building. Due to poor indoor air quality, limited electrical outlets and air conditioning, and lack of wireless internet, daily long-term use would not be viable without significant repair, renovation, and investment.
Tri Sigma owns a property in Chapel Hill that previously housed Tri Sigma’s Delta Delta Chapter. As the chapter is no longer active on the campus of UNC-Chapel Hill, it will provide an efficient transition of operations, accommodate the ever-evolving needs of our membership, and provide the space needed to house and showcase Tri Sigma’s archives collection.
The first floor of the property in Chapel Hill is ADA-compliant and close in proximity to a major airport. This will make travel to NHQ more accessible to staff, volunteers, and other visitors. Its close proximity to three major universities will also provide expanded opportunities for larger in-person meetings and events.
As mentioned in the announcement email, many NPC organizations have reimagined their physical headquarters in the past few years. Many have downsized to significantly smaller facilities, some are now 100% remote with no physical building at all, and one even shares space in the basement of an active collegiate chapter house. Just as the landscape of sororities continues to change across campuses, so will their national headquarters.
We have received congratulations and well wishes from the university, and they are excited to have a national headquarters nearby.
When and if that opportunity becomes available in the future, we will explore whatever new or existing housing options are needed to make Tri Sigma competitive on campus.
Moving NHQ to North Carolina looks toward our future and will allow us to better use our financial resources to serve our collegiate members, alumnae and volunteers while keeping Tri Sigma moving Ever Forward.
Walton House will always be an important part of Tri Sigma’s history. We look forward to ensuring it is featured and celebrated in our permeant archives collection.
It may surprise you to learn that—contrary to popular belief—Mabel Lee did not grow up at Walton House, nor was it given to Tri Sigma after her death. Known as Muhlenberg Hall in the National Register of Historic Places, the house was built for her brother in 1914—10 years after Mabel Lee became a Sigma. It was never owned by Mabel Lee, nor was it donated to Tri Sigma. Following the 1962 Convention, Tri Sigma purchased the home the following year and renamed it the Mabel Lee Walton House.
The Walton House Board summed it up perfectly in their statement regarding the move:
Our Heart Home is a grand old lady who deserves to be treated with love and care. Unfortunately, the costs associated with such care have become beyond the reach of practicality, especially when coupled with the limited demand for the use of the property by Sigmas. This is a difficult decision for all of us on the Walton House Board. We love Walton House, but we love Sigma more.
A place where people have shared love and laughter is a sacred place and we will always love Walton House. But what made Walton House special was the people who visited it. Those bonds of sisterhood will remain along with our fond memories
The Walton House Board stands in support of our sisters on Executive Council in their decision to sell Walton House.
Due to the age, size, and current condition of the Walton House, an estimated $353,325 would have been required for repairs over the next five years, in addition to ongoing maintenance and upkeep costs, to maintain daily long-term use.
The Assets and Investments (not Assets and Liabilities) portion of Article VII refers only to chapter-owned assets. It does not address assets owned by the national organization. Article XVII refers to property and assets upon the dissolution of the organization, but that does not apply to this situation since the national organization is not dissolving.
Finally, Article III states that elected officers have a duty to provide sound financial management and strengthen the organization’s programs and services. This decision was made under that charge and will allow us to better use our financial resources to serve our collegiate members, alumnae and volunteers.
While members are entitled to financial transparency—which is provided in the annual report, treasurer’s triennial report at Convention, and the 990s filed each year with the IRS which are public—matters related to assets and property are ultimately determined by Executive Council.
Tri Sigma’s legacy is more than a building—it is 125 years of sisterhood which extend far beyond Walton House.
Some of the furnishings purchased for specific rooms of the Walton House have been sold to the buyer and will remain at 225 N. Muhlenberg. Other items have been carefully inventoried, packed, and moved into the admin building to await transport to North Carolina. We will let members know if any remaining items become available.
The history of 225 N. Muhlenberg Street started long before it became Tri Sigma’s national headquarters and will continue to be a pride point of Woodstock, Virginia, for years and years to come. We were pleased to accept the offer of a local, long-time admirer of the Walton House. It is our hope and expectation they will love and cherish it as much as we have.
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