KEARNEY — For 64 years, Jennie M. Conrad Hall housed a sorority, residents and UNK offices, until this summer. After the building was demolished, many memories still linger with UNK alumni.
The sisters of Alpha Omicron Pi were among the first to move into Conrad Hall, previously known as North Hall.
“I remember spending a lot of hours during recruitment hanging paper streamers to make crepe paper walls,” said Lori Moore, an AOPi alumni and adviser. “It was a foundation for lifetime friendships. A lot of the girls that I was in the sorority with 40 years ago, I still have connected with today.”
When Moore joined AOPi in 1981, Conrad had house parents, a formal lounge, a guest room for visitors, study rooms and full kitchens on each floor. The sorority members didn’t call one room home for long, as they were required to switch rooms each semester.
Moore attended Monday night chapter meetings, scheduled her classes for “General Hospital” watch parties, celebrated at Christmas parties and organized pranks.
Some of the practical jokes included jamming doors with pennies, balancing cups of water on doors and rearranging the sorority president’s bedroom in a different location.
One of the most well-known jokes among Conrad residents was the controversy surrounding the resident ghost who, according to Moore, caused curtains to sway on closed windows and lone-standing chairs to rock.
They named the ghost Stella, after one of the AOPi founding sisters. An article in the Calvin T. Ryan library archives said Stella is the most active in the west end of the third floor.
In 2006, Kelli Margritz lived in room 312 as a Conrad resident assistant.
“I’m a believer,” Margritz said. “Toilets would flush, or the sink would be running. Stuff in the bathroom was always like, not right, but I knew it wasn’t kids playing a prank because I was the only one there during RA training.”
Aside from the supernatural, Margritz remembers the “tacky green tile” on the walls, and the lifelong friendships.
“There were no corners or no turns in the hallway, so nobody was like off. It was just always one single hallway, so you knew everybody,” Margritz said. “Everybody was a part of the community, and so I feel like the two years I lived there, it was just a really tight-knit group.”
Residents dressed up for Halloween together, formed intramural teams and even turned the hallways into a slip-and-slide once. They also got permission to clear the furniture out of an empty room and call it “The Club” where residents would hold open microphone activities.
To remember the antics of Conrad Hall, Margritz pried off the resident assistant sign on her door to keep as a memento after hearing rumors of the building being razed.
Other residents followed suit more than a decade later when the rumors became reality.
“I was back in Kearney about a month ago and told my kids ‘Let’s just drive by campus. I want to see what Conrad looks like,’ said Danielle Dudo, who was the RA before Margritz. “Sure enough, there were bricks, and I took some for my friends and me.”
Dudo recalled the turquoise bricks on the walls, playing games in the basement and partnering with the Martin Hall residents for homecoming.
Martin Hall is the last residence hall still standing that Dudo lived in. That building will be renovated for Fraternity and Sorority Life in late 2022 or 2023.
Dudo added her Conrad brick to a collection of bricks from Luddin Hall and Case Hall, other razed dormitories she once called home. In spring 2014, Conrad would say goodbye to residence and house Residence Life and the Honors Program offices.
Green space replaces Conrad Hall after it was demolished June 2. When Conrad was being prepared for demolition, five Alpha Omicron Pi alumni gathered to reminisce.
They walked around the building’s outskirts and recalled blowing up balloons for recruitment week.
“It was really kind of sad, just walking up to it because at that point, the windows were broken out and some of the walls were torn down and laying everywhere,” said Kathy Dimmitt. “It’s always a good excuse to get together with friends and just to be able to talk and laugh and reminisce about some of those times. It was a good thing.”
Dimmitt moved into Conrad Hall in 1989 and moved to United Residence South with the rest of her AOPi sisters for her senior year. Since graduation, she has served as a recruitment adviser for a while, and she has stayed in touch with fellow AOPi members.
Dimmitt left the reunion with a letter “O” to hang in her home and to remember when the metallic letters once spelled Jennie M. Conrad Hall.