Windfall rebuilding efforts target March completion

Emma Derr and Tate Mikkelsen

The well known off-campus house, Windfall, should be fully rebuilt by this March.

Windfall had been a staple in the Washington and Lee community for decades, as it was the first house on Windfall Hill and a popular place for socialization.

The house was occupied by members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) from 1964 to 2013, and has since been rented by members of the Chi Psi fraternity.

On March 23, 2017, Windfall caught fire and burned down.  

Chi Psi President Taylor Dockery said the most challenging part of the process was conquering the initial pessimism of losing the house.

“It was kind of bizarre when the house was razed to the ground, and there was nothing there,” Dockery said. “I made so many memories during my first two years at W&L in the house, and then it no longer existed.”

Last spring, a sister of one of the Windfall residents began a GoFundMe page after the students living in the house lost all of their possessions to the fire. Within seven days, the community had raised over $37,000 for the residentsin order to buy new clothes and other necessities.

The six members who were supposed to live at Windfall for the 2017-2018 school year then met with the owners. After a few meetings, they all agreed on blueprints to begin reconstruction.

Most of the money for the rebuild was raised through donations from current students, alumnae and parents.

William Szczecinski, ‘18, is a Chi Psi member who has helped with both the fundraising and reconstruction efforts.

Windfall reconstruction efforts are underway. Photo courtesy of William Szczecinski

“The amount of people, especially alumnae, who reached out and shared fond memories of windfall was amazing,” Szczecinski said. “It shows just how much one house can mean to a whole community.”

Szczecinski said the owners of Windfall, the Shaners, involved the six boys in the whole process. The Shaners invited them to meet with the construction workers and approve final decisions.

The Shaners said they have enjoyed working with the Chi Psi brothers and look forward to a long-lasting relationship with the fraternity.

Fundraising for the rebuild wrapped up in this past September, and the construction of Windfall Two began.

The original Windfall house had a red tin roof, which had faded over time. Dockery said the fraternity was prioritizing building the new house with a red tin roof in honor of the original structure.

The new blueprints indicate a few practical changes, such as resizing a closet-sized room nicknamed “The Lizard’s Den” to match the other bedrooms. Otherwise, the structure is mostly the same.

Szczecinski said over Alumnae Weekend, some SAE alumnae said they would be interested in contributing the original posters hung in Windfallfrom when they attended Washington and Leeto give Windfall Two an authentic feel.

A quote by musician David Allan Coe has particularly resonated with the fraternity throughout the reconstruction period: “It is not the beauty of a building you should look at; it’s the construction of the foundation that will stand the test of time.”

“The foundation of this house is so much more than the bricks and mortar,” Szczecinski said, elaborating on Coe’s quote. “It’s more about the memories and friendships made there that have stayed with people long after graduation.”

Dockery said the construction of Windfall Two should be done by the end of Marchnearly the one-year anniversary of when they lost Windfall.

Anyone interested in following the Windfall reconstruction process can view their Instagram page, WindfallTwo. Updates are being periodically posted.

“The first party back at Windfall will probably be one for the ages,” Szczecinski said, “We’d love to see President Dudley there.”