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The 167-year-old Hardy House, on Morley Drive, is scheduled to come down as part of a construction project to help serve the programs of Williams College's Davis Center.

Williams College Asks Town to Help Clear Way for Davis Center Building Project

By Stephen Dravis
iBerkshires Staff
07:20AM / Saturday, March 06, 2021
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Chandler House is also on the college's chopping block. The Historical Commission will hear on Monday the college's proposal to raze Chandler and Hardy. 
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Williams College Monday will ask the town's Historical Commission to sign off on the demolition of buildings built in 1914 and 1854.
 
The buildings are slated for removal to support the programming of the Davis Center, which already utilizes one of the two structures in question.
 
The Davis Center, named for noted Black Williams alumni W. Allison Davis and John A. Davis, began as the college's Multicultural Center in 1989 and supports students from historically disenfranchised groups as well as international students.
 
The center's main offices are in Jenness House on Morley Drive, which is flanked by the 107-year-old Chandler House, which fronts on Walden Street, and 167-year-old Hardy House.
 
The former has served primarily as a construction trailer for the college's nearby science center project, according to Scott Henderson, the project manager on the Davis Center project. The latter, Hardy House, is home to the college's Gender and Sexuality Resource Center and Office of Special Academic Programs.
 
The decision to remove Chandler House and Hardy House comes at the end of a two-year study process and a 23-person committee, Henderson said.
 
"What we do when there are existing buildings in play and we're reviewing them for reuse is we take a lengthy pre-design process, in this case 12 months, using Conditions of Success, a scorecard that lists the goals of the project," Henderson said. "In this case, there were 20 project goals."
 
The committee assessed all three of the current buildings used by the Davis Center — Jenness, Hardy and Rice House, located to the north of Hardy — plus Chandler, which is nearing the end of its use as construction office space for a science center project that is nearing completion.
 
The plan that emerged involves putting an addition on Rice House, extending it into the current footprint of Hardy House, and creating space for outdoor programming by the Davis Center and a new accessible entry from Walden Street.
 
"We can take Hardy House, which has important programming, and make it improved space in a new building," Henderson said. "Rice House has historical value and scored differently and higher [in the Conditions of Success process]. Jeness also has a social history as the initial Multicultural Center.
 
"Part of the Davis Center's need is good outdoor space for events, and [Chandler House's location] was a prime spot for that."
 
Besides the addition to Rice House, the project includes renovations for Jeness and Rice.
 
"They're beautiful old houses, but you get inside and you realize that if anyone has mobility issues, they're limited to one floor," Henderson said.
 
There will be enough construction work and demolition happening in the "neighborhood" that it makes sense to relocate the Davis Center during a construction period slated for spring semester 2022 through July 2023.
 
"The timing worked out pretty well with the science building wrapping up," Henderson said. "They're vacating swing space on Stetson at the end of this current semester. … That will give us the opportunity to move the Davis Center in January next year and use it throughout the whole construction period."

Tags: demolition,   historical commission,   Williams College,   

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