House Renovation: Best of Old and New
Much has changed in home construction since Smith College
dedicated Haven House as a student residence in the early
1900s. Builders no longer insulate walls by filling them
with bricks. And the design of windows and furnaces has progressed
dramatically to improve energy efficiency.
Some changes, however,
are not as welcome – the old-growth
yellow pine that was once used as flooring is no longer available
for that purpose.
So in planning the $5 million
renovation of Haven House, a three-story student residence
on Elm Street, designers made certain that the best of the
old would be preserved to mingle with the best of the new.
“Architecturally, this home is so beautiful,” said
Charles Conant, the Smith project manager overseeing the
Haven House renovation this summer. “But the heating
system is 100 years old and the drafty windows wasted heat.”
The contractor, Wright
Builders, will burnish the home’s
assets, refinishing floors, turning an unused dining room
with fireplace into a living room (complete with a gas log
in the fireplace), and turning a little-used room at the
rear of the house into glassed-in four-season porch.
“It has a great view across the lawns to the campus
pond,” said Conant of the porch. “It is sure
to be a popular spot -- I know because that is where
the construction workers always gather.”
At the same time, a new furnace will achieve a level of
energy efficiency that the century-old model never achieved.
New windows and insulation will help retain the heat.
Workers are also carrying
out another major change: relocating the main entrance
of Haven House from the north side, where it faces Elm
Street, to the building’s east side, facing
the Campus Center. The change will preserve the current look
of the Elm Street entrance while ensuring that it will not
need to be widened for wheelchair accessibility.
The new main entrance
will also mean that students will enter into one of the
house’s most dramatic spaces,
a foyer with a central staircase, fireplace and window seats.
Finally, a set of new furniture will greet the 53 students
who move into Haven House in the fall. Even their rooms may
be configured differently because the renovation will create
five suites, each consisting of two bedrooms, a common room
and shared bathroom.
Indeed, the contractors are aware of the date students will
begin to return.
“We started this project a week before commencement
and we have to be done by mid-August,” said Conant. “The
students seem to arrive earlier and earlier.”