A behind the scenes look at the renovation and expansion of the historic Delta Gamma House at the University of Mississippi
Laurey Glenn, Photographer
Pryor and Morrow, Architect
One of the most interesting projects we have been fortunate enough to be a part of was the renovation and expansion of the historic Delta Gamma House at the University of Mississippi. Delta Gamma was founded in Oxford in 1873, so much of the project focused on preserving that special history while reimagining the house for the 450 girls that now call it home. The marriage of old and new was the most important consideration as our team worked together to make the new house feel original. Around 10,000 square feet of the original structure was
retained and a new 30,000 additional square feet as built. The project was headed up by Olivia Manning, with the architecture completed by Pryor and Morrow out of Columbus, MS. As an Ole Miss graduate myself, it was such an honor working on this project and really fun getting to spend so much time back on campus.
A new dining room, dorm rooms and chapter room were some of the main items on the agenda that needed to be updated in order to accommodate the much larger pledge classes of today.
A new entryway was added onto the front of the house, connecting the old and new structures, featuring a beautiful sweeping staircase and an entry table custom designed by my team from an old magnolia tree on the property. The entry also introduces the art collection that we worked hard to curate for the chapter. The collection focuses on works from alumnae and Mississippi artists so that the pieces throughout the house lend character but also meaning to the space. The addition of color through art paired with selecting hard finishes that would be timeless and neutral, allowed the art to inject so much energy into the spaces. We also worked to incorporate Delta Gamma’s signature colors -pink and blue- into the design in subtle, unexpected ways to keep the design feeling elegant and classic and one that would make both current students and alumni proud.
The music room, which was the old entry hall for the house, became one of my favorite spaces, as it served as a connector between the new and old so beautifully. We painted every inch of the space in a Fine Paints of Europe shade of white which really made the antique pieces pop and refinished the existing floors in a walnut shade giving contrast to all the white. Lastly, we layered in antique Oushaks that could handle heavy traffic but would add color and age to the spaces.
Right past the music room is a small vestibule to the women’s restrooms that we papered finish in one of my favorite designs by Scalamandre to break up all the white and add interest without overwhelming the space.
The formal living room, which was also original to the house, was arguably our favorite room in the house. We wanted it to feel fresh and bright but needed the space to feel equally formal. Since we were working with the original low ceilings, we used an antique mirror above the fireplace to draw the eye upward and a tonal color palette punctuated by soft blues and golds. I sourced a beautiful antique chandelier and was able to incorporate some of the original antiques from the house in this space as well, so that it felt familiar but updated.
Tucked around throughout the project were lots of little spots to sit down and kick your feet up! We loved the way this particular little inviting spot turned out, featuring fun abstract art in warm colors, down plush Fortuny pillows, a recovered original ottoman and an ivory bleachable fabric on the loveseat.
We also were able to use the original front door to enter the library, which was a fun way to incorporate the old structure into the new. We wanted the library it to be a cozy spot for the girls to study and also a space that memorabilia, etc, could be collected. We used a high gloss grey paint on every surface which created a really cohesive and cozy space. We also had a large ottoman made out of an antique rug that had lived in the house for years, and that so many members recognized and loved.
The Founders room was another spot that holds lots of historic pieces, including portraits of the three founders and tons of memorabilia. We papered this room in a neutral damask and incorporated pink sofas and a soft blue Oushak rug to keep the space feeling light and airy so that it wouldn’t feel overwhelmed by the more aged items.
Finally, another big goal for the new house was lots of spots that the girls could curl up and hang out. We focused on high performance fabrics throughout the entire project, but particularly in these areas that we knew would get lots of wear and tear! Using specially treated fabrics allowed the upholstery to be lighter and four years later, the space is still well maintained. To make sure it flowed well with the rest of the house, we used very traditional upholstery in slightly oversized styles to allow for super comfortable lounging. However, we brought in more colorful abstract art, a pink quartz cocktail table and a fun peacock pink pattern on the chair pillows to make the student lounging spaces feel more youthful!