St. Paul fraternity FarmHouse seeks to make its brand-new building a home

FarmHouse members were without a house for a year after tearing down a 1961 building for a new one.

Christopher Lemke

A service-focused fraternity at the University of Minnesota is spending its first semester in a new $4 million fraternity house on the St. Paul campus.

FarmHouse, a fraternity with 34 active chapters between the U.S. and Canada, demolished its 1960s-era house and built a larger home in its place in the last year, which members hope will appeal to more recruits.

The chapter’s website said the old house was “not competitive with housing alternatives on campus” and “a detriment to recruiting potential members.”

Residents in the new house can take advantage of an engineering lab for shop projects, air conditioning and better Wi-Fi. Members will also have larger bedrooms, hallways and study spaces. 

Fundraising for the new house started four years ago, said Frank Bezdicek, a chapter advisor who first joined the fraternity in the 1960s. They raised $3 million, which came primarily from alumni, he said.

Currently, 43 people are living in the house, which can hold up to 44 people. The old building could house 36. 

At about 18,000 square feet, the new building is more than twice as large as the old one, Bezdicek said. 

Josh Christoffer, a chapter director and senior studying agriculture and food business management, said the new building doesn’t have its own personality quite yet. Members could feel the history in the 50-year-old building, he said.

Last school year, FarmHouse members didn’t have a house while the new one was built.

Despite this, the fraternity kept up on grades, activities and forming bonds without a physical home, Christoffer said.

“Living without a fraternity house made us much more intentional about hanging with each other,” said chapter president P.J. Aarsvold.