New Life for Smith's Old Houses
According to some students, all the extensive (and expensive) renovations and improvements administered to several campus houses during the past year are a mixed blessing. On one hand, the refurbished interiors of Hopkins, Wesley, Tenney, Comstock and Wilder houses provide a new, fresh atmosphere in which students can meet and socialize. And to be sure, most students are appreciative of the changes in their houses, the attractive surroundings, new furnishings and fixtures, the freshly painted and papered walls and finished floors.
Hopkins' kitchen is a popular place for meals as well as just hanging out.
"I really like it," says Laura Stanley '03 of the improvements in Comstock, home to some 80 students, where Stanley is in her second year of residency. The residence was treated to a complete renovation last summer, with replacements of its air conditioning, plumbing, electrical and safety systems, as well as new lighting, finishes and furniture, windows, roof and chimney. "The whole house looks great. The bathrooms were really run down last year. Now they look fabulous."
"I'm really grateful for the new
kitchen," says Jessica Feldman '01, who lives with 13 other
students in Tenney, which received new appliances and upgrades
to its mechanical systems. "It's gorgeous. The kitchen has
the capacity to hold all the members
But on the other hand-refurbished bathrooms and new kitchens notwithstanding-some students feel the newness of their houses' improved interiors has diminished the feeling of lived-in comfort that can only come with cracked paint, worn upholstery and antiquated appliances.
"It's a lot like a hotel," says Victoria Slade '03, who lives in Wilder House. "The common space isn't very comfortable because everything is all new. The rooms are nice, but people are more anal in general now, and it's a little disappointing. A lot of people in my house feel the same way. The house community has declined a lot."
"I see both sides of the coin," says Feldman of the house renovations.
Certainly, she and her fellow students
appreciate the improvements to the houses, she says, but at the
same time, the changes serve as a constant reminder that the
residences are borrowed living space. Recently, Feldman explains,
when she and her house-mates created artwork to hang on the walls,
they were asked not to for fear of damaging the finish. They're
also instructed not to remove some of the furnishings, such as
skirts placed on the windows, she says. "I think it's encouraging
that Smith decided to invest in Tenney and that they value our
style of living. But there's a heightened realization of our
connection to College Hall. We realize we are under the college's
Still, for most students, the new living conditions are a welcome change. "It's been pretty positive here," says Priya Desai '03, who lives in Wilder House. "The new furniture is great, everything is really nice."
For Beth Parente '01, a resident of
Wesley House, which was moved 100 yards last summer from its
previous location, the modified surroundings have had little
effect. "It's a nicer environment," she says of Wesley's
improvements. "The living space is a lot nicer. But it hasn't
affected me in any major way."
is published by the Smith College Office of College Relations
for alumnae, staff, students and friends.
Copyright © 2001, Smith College. Portions of this publication may be reproduced with the permission of the Office
of College Relations, Garrison Hall, Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts 01063. Last update: 1/25/2001.
Made with Macintosh