After a few days, the University set up temporary housing for us in the basements of two dormitories; Dennison Hall in East Quad and Hepburn Hall in North Quad. A few of our stragglers took up residence at Hooterville, located just south of the Delt House, the unofficial Sigma Nu annex that had housed many of our 5th year seniors. Each dorm housed about 30 guys in a barracks style arrangement and we ate our meals in the dorm dining halls.
The fire took place just a few short weeks before first semester finals. Most of us had lost our books and class notes in the fire. Some professors were sympathetic, while others were not so forgiving. Many of us spent those weeks before Christmas partying and bowling at The Post. At the time, Dennison was a freshmen men's dorm and Miami had curfew rules. No girls in the dorms after midnight and beer in freshmen dorms was frowned upon. We broke all the rules, but nobody seemed to mind. There was also a place called East End in East Quad. It was like a bar and within a short walk of Dennison Hall. Those staying in Dennison spent a lot of time at East End.
Many have the distinct memory of sororities providing us with home baked chocolate chip cookies. At one point there was a 55 gallon garbage can in the basement of Dennison filled with cookies. We would just sit around the dorm and gorge ourselves.
Sigma Nu had never been split up like this before, so our House leadership made certain we had many A-club meetings in Laws Hall and other venues, just to ensure our unity stayed intact and to keep us apprised of the fast moving developments related to House clean-up and reconstruction and what we would be doing in terms of accommodations when we returned to campus after winter break. The House was going to take several months to repair. Where were we going to live in the second semester? How would we conduct Rush which was always held in the first few weeks of second semester? We had just been voted by other fraternities and sororities as the "Best Fraternity" on Miami's Campus and we did not want to lose our momentum.
Over the Christmas holiday break, several of the guys volunteered to return to Oxford early to help with House clean-up, while others worked tirelessly to arrange for our second semester accommodations. We all believed it critical that we find a place that could house the entire Chapter so we weren't spread out around campus for the semester. Our era was a time in EN history when all Actives WANTED to live in the House. The House was always at full capacity of approximately 70 guys. Only those serving as residence hall advisers or some of the 5th year seniors who had moved into the aforementioned Hooterville Annex lived outside of 300 N. Tallawanda. Even the Hooterville guys ate their meals at the House.
Through the efforts of our House leadership, arrangements were made to rent apartments at Fox & Hounds, a complex located on the west side of town near where McDonald's is located today. All of us, including Mom Reaves, took up residence at Fox & Hounds for the second semester. The guys even arranged to have rental furniture brought in to all of the 3-man apartments. The Evans Scholars, who did not participate in traditional fraternity rush, were gracious enough to allow us the use of their house for all of our rush "meet & greets" and parties. This was quite an imposition on the Scholars given the fact that we were such a big House and the PR from the fire brought a ton of rushees to the doorstep. We owe the Scholars a lot for that. Our cut sessions were held at Laws Hall. Ultimately, we picked up a great pledge class and certainly out-rushed the Betas, Fijis and TKEs, our main rivals.
The time in the apartments was a lot of fun. We continued to keep our social calendar solid and held events at Isaac Walton Lodge and other venues off campus. Activation of the pledge class was conducted in our "under reconstruction" House adding to the uniquness of the event.
Reconstruction of the House was complete over the summer of 1979 and we moved back in for the fall semester. The fire martial forced us to make plans to build the addition on the back of the House to serve as barracks style rack rooms, but that construction would not be complete for another year or so. We continued to sleep in small rack rooms. Hard to believe we could cram 12 guys (four sets of triple bunk beds) into a standard size room on Second Deck or in the Pit, Ghetto, or into a 6 man rack room in God's Little Acre.
Side Note: On December 1, 1979, we threw a party to commemorate the first anniversary of the Fire. We were packed into the party area of the House when about 30 of our Delt neighbors decided to crash the party. Brandishing lit, Bic lighters, the Delts marched ceremoniously down the stairs into party room to pay homage to the event. We all got a kick out of it and the Delts stuck around to join us for a few beers and to share in our memories of that fateful night the previous year.
Everyone has memories and photos of the fire. I'm sure more will be added here.