My friends and I lived in Stone-Davis our senior year. To be perfectly honest, it wasn’t our first choice. I had hoped to be in Caz, where I lived sophomore year and spent lunch hours watching Days of Our Lives with trays of food from the dorm’s dining hall. But my friend group had a subpar lottery number average, so off to Stone-Davis we went. It was low on our list because it was, frankly, in terrible shape. In fact, Stone-Davis was so decrepit that the College planned a gut renovation of the building right after spring semester finals that year.
But it turned out that being in a building set for sledgehammering had its advantages. We were given permission to paint and write on the walls, and the hallways filled up with our messages to each other. Anyway, never mind the shabbiness of the dorm; my room’s view of Lake Waban was gorgeous. But, of course, most of my memories are of the people, not the facilities. I remember three of my friends lip-syncing to the Beastie Boys at a crowded Halloween party on the fourth floor of Stone, discussing author Jeanette Winterson with my friend Lisa down the hall, and plotting post-grad plans with friends over stir-fry from the wok station. Over the year, we got attached to our crumbling, graffitied home. By the time senior week rolled around, my Stone-Davis classmates and I complained bitterly when we were relocated to Severance Hall so that construction could begin on the building.
Although the College has spent $30 million in recent years addressing the most urgent problems in the res halls, that 1999 project on Stone-Davis was the last time a large residence hall was significantly renovated at Wellesley. That is, until this summer, when half of Severance was overhauled, marking the beginning of a 10-year, $250 million plan to preserve the dorms and make them greener and more accessible. I had the opportunity to take a look around the newly renovated spaces in Sev earlier this fall and was impressed with the welcoming common areas and thoughtful details like cozy armchairs in gabled nooks. But, of course, some of the most important changes are invisible—like new pipes for a low-temperature hot water heating system, which can be powered from sustainable sources. In “This Old Hall,” Jennifer E. Garrett ’98 takes our readers inside the process of renovating the building. I congratulate Dave Chakraborty, Michelle Maheu, and their team in the facilities department for everything they accomplished. One summer down, nine to go!
Amazingly, the work on the residence halls is going to be only a part of the construction happening on campus. Last spring, the board of trustees voted to approve a one-time special draw on the endowment of $125 million to address critical repairs to Pendleton East, Founders/Green Hall, Clapp Library, the Davis Museum, the Stone Center and Simpson Hall, Weaver House, the Keohane Sports Center and Chandler Pool, and the Distribution Center, improving more than 500,000 square feet of space on campus. Work will begin early next year; we look forward to reporting on the results.
I remember seeing the renovated Stone-Davis for the first time. It was reunion weekend 2006, my first working as a WCAA staff member. While checking rooms to make sure no alums had left behind cell phone chargers, I admired the improvements to accessibility and the new kitchenettes. Of course, I went to check on my senior year room, and I was briefly taken aback when I realized that it had been converted into part of a common room. But my window was still there, with the same reassuring view of Lake Waban. Some things are eternal.