Tri Sigma recently announced plans to move its national headquarters to Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Our top priority throughout this process is to ensure operations continue efficiently, the evolving needs of our membership are met, and the legacy of Tri Sigma continues to be honored. We are confident this move is in the best interest of Tri Sigma—both today and for future generations of members.
Effective immediately, all mail for National Headquarters and the Foundation should be addressed to 207 N. Muhlenberg St., Woodstock, VA 22664 until further notice.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
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.
Tri Sigma will remain in the administrative building next to Walton House until the end of the 2023-24 academic year. Beginning Sept. 21, 2023, all mail—including Foundation checks—should be sent to 207 N. Muhlenberg St., Woodstock, VA 22664.
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 are committed to doing everything possible to ensure smooth and seamless business operations during this transition period.
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.
Yes! The property is located in the heart of historic Franklin Street, a thriving area close to campus, shops, restaurants, fraternity and sorority houses, and other local businesses.
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.
The Delta Delta Housing Board did an excellent job maintaining the property, and upkeep since the chapter’s closure has been maintained by a local managerial company. In other words, it will need minimal updates to accommodate Tri Sigma’s administrative offices and archives.
The closure agreement between Tri Sigma and UNC-Chapel Hill states that the possibility for re-establishment will occur no sooner than 2029. A return to campus after that time will only occur when conditions are mutually ideal for both the university and Tri Sigma.
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.
Tri Sigma is a 501(c)(7) organization. As such, the proceeds must be used for specific purposes within a set timeframe. Executive Council will evaluate how to best use the funds.
While there will be costs associated with taxes and routine upkeep—and the expense of the actual move—they will be significantly less than costs related to our current properties in Woodstock. Additionally, we are working with the state of North Carolina to secure tax benefits as part of our relocation.
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 and keep 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.
As reported in the 2021-22 Annual Report, the amount of funds needed to accommodate the necessary repairs and upkeep of two properties—including one built more than 100 years ago—is significant.
Due to the age, size, and current condition of the Walton House, an estimated $353,325 would be required for repairs over the next five years, in addition to ongoing maintenance and upkeep costs, to maintain daily long-term use.
The elected leadership made the best decisions they could at that time with the resources available to them. Ten years ago, more employees worked on-site in Woodstock and Walton House could no longer meet the needs of an administrative headquarters. As mentioned on the call, these reasons include internet accessibility, poor air quality and other issues related to OSHA, lack of air conditioning, insufficient electrical outlets, an inability to supplement the building’s power needs without updating the entire electrical system, and more.
Call NHQ at (540) 459-4212 to schedule a visit during normal business hours. The last day to visit is Sept. 8, 2023.
Please note that we have begun packing in preparation for the sale. As you can imagine, this involves a considerable amount of organizing and arranging which may temporarily impact the tidiness of Walton House.
Several fundraising opportunities have been promoted throughout the years; however, total annual Walton House donations are typically less than $5,000. Because we are a membership organization, donations of this kind are not tax deductible. This makes fundraising especially difficult.
There are no automatic recurring donations or cash reserves. Please refer to past annual reports for information regarding donations to the Walton House.
The ownership of Walton House does not appear in any bylaws of Sigma Sigma Sigma. Article XII states the Walton House is under the management of the Mabel Lee Walton House Board of Trustees, and they support the difficult decision to sell the property.
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.
The Walton House Board of Trustees issued the following statement:
The Walton House Board stands in support of our sisters on Executive Council in their decision to sell Walton House. 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.
While we understand this may seem like a hasty decision, the feasibility of the Woodstock properties has been a topic dating back several years. An announcement of this magnitude requires a tight timeline to cascading audiences to prevent misinformation. The initial CwC was announced a month in advance and reminders were posted on social media and in various emails to volunteers and chapter leaders.
We are working closely with our national archivist to determine items of importance and ensure they are safely packed and relocated to the new property. We are thrilled to share that the new property will have adequate space for displaying and showcasing our most cherished archive possessions—including our beloved chapter dolls!
In addition to the exciting opportunities ahead of us to relocate and showcase our archives in person, Tri Sigma has invested in a digital magazine archive to make historical information accessible to members across the country. This—coupled with the Oral History Project—has made it possible for members to connect with national culture and history without the time and expense of traveling to a small town in rural Virginia. The final magazine digitization and Oral History Project projects will be released in 2024, and we look forward to exploring other options for making our history more accessible to all members.
It's also important to note that, while Woodstock has been the longest-running and most significant home of Tri Sigma’s base of operations, it was not the first. Prior to Sigma’s purchase of the Walton House in the 1960s, the national office had previously moved to wherever the current national president lived.
Tri Sigma’s legacy is more than a building—it is 125 years of sisterhood which extend far beyond Walton House.
We are happy to share that the bunk beds have been donated to a nonprofit organization called GAP in the Shenandoah Valley. GAP—which stands for Grandparents as Parents—is a group of grandparents and other relatives raising children unable to live with their birth parents. Each family has their own story of how they returned to parenting once again, be it from issues related to abuse, neglect, abandonment, or the death of one or both parents. Volunteers for GAP were extremely grateful to receive this donation and assured us they would be put to good use.
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.
We are researching all options. Once a decision has been made regarding the best long-term solution, donors will be notified.
While the Omicron Chapter’s gift has brought joy to all who visit Walton House, the care and upkeep for the garden has been the responsibility of NHQ since its establishment (with the help of some volunteers along the way). There are currently no plans to relocate it to Chapel Hill.
A historical marker already sits at Main and Locust Streets in Woodstock. We do not foresee its removal.
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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