House: Built, 1825—Rebuilt, 2012
With its creaking, uneven floors,
patched siding and faded exterior, Dewey House—the current
central-campus home of philosophy department offices—has
not been recognizable for a long time as the “grand old house” it
Dewey House in progress.
And while an extensive and long-due
exterior and interior renovation this summer might not return
Dewey to the lauded center of Smith life it once enjoyed,
the project will restore much of the grandeur of the building’s architectural design.
Perhaps more important, the renovation will reinforce the
historic building’s structural soundness while updating its
efficiency for modern functionality.
Dewey House was Smith’s
first residential house, serving as the campus home for the
original 14 students who enrolled when Smith opened in 1875.
Originally designed by legendary
local architect Thomas Pratt (1784-1868), the structure was
constructed as a residence in 1825 for local Judge Charles
A. Dewey. Smith later purchased the building and named it
for the judge, and Dewey House became the center of social
life and activity at Smith.
Originally situated near the
present location of College Hall, Dewey has been moved twice—once in 1875 to the present site of
Seelye Hall, and again in 1898 to its current location, to
clear land for the construction of Seelye.
After 187 years, Dewey is receiving
extensive refreshments inside and outside—a general modernization,
to bring the structure in compliance with modern, more stringent
building codes, explains Charlie Conant, senior project manager
in facilities management, who is overseeing the Dewey renovation.
“The building has held up relatively well,” Conant says. “However, years and
years of work in the building and building relocation have taken a toll on Dewey.
Add to that the fact that it’s just plain old and tired.”
Many of Dewey’s original trusses and beams are being reinforced for structural
integrity, and new footings and columns are being installed to further stabilize
the structure and preserve the building’s historical character.
the building’s siding is being replaced with new wood siding, which presents
opportunities to build in more porosity to the structure, while addressing moisture
problems. “The siding had been patched and worked on in so many areas that it
had outlived its life a long time ago,” says Conant.
Also notable is the vast
improvement in energy conservation that the Dewey update
will enable. “Few buildings
on campus per square foot could have compared to Dewey in terms of its poor energy
conservation,” notes Conant. “The exterior walls, the windows, and the basement
were basically open pathways for heat or cooling to leave the building.” Foam
insulation will be installed throughout.
Other details of the Dewey renovation
- installation of a
lift connecting the first and second floors
of second-floor bathrooms, an office, and kitchenette
- upgrades to mechanical,
plumbing and electrical systems
- entire roof replacement
with new slate tile roof, with copper flashings
- replacement of third-floor
- replacement of carpet
and other finishes
- hazardous materials
- replacement of windows
with new double-pane windows
- capping and repointing
- painting entire interior
- replacement of interior
- refinishing hardwood
floors in offices and front hall
- replacing carpet
- repairing cracks in
- replacing window blinds
in all offices
- replacing office, corridor
and bathroom lighting
- installing a new fire