Lodge may see renovations

by Chris Leech | 5/21/14 6:39pm

Moosilauke Ravine Lodge, built in 1938, may be renovated due to age and structural issues.
by Cecelia Shao / Cecelia Shao

As part of an ongoing series of renovations, the College is considering updating or rebuilding the Moosilauke Ravine Lodge to better meet safety codes and host a growing number of guests. This June, the Class of 1974 Bunkhouse — affectionately dubbed by some the “’74tress” — will become the newest building dotting the woods surrounding the Lodge, the latest in five years of bunkhouse renovation and construction.

Changes to the Lodge are pending an initial appraisal conducted this spring, outdoor programs director Dan Nelson said. The College hired Maclay Architects, a firm based in Waitsfield, Vermont, to survey the current structure, Nelson said.

The principal donor for the project, whose name has not been released, is a “longtime supporter of programs and facilities at Moosilauke,” Nelson said in an email.

Built in 1938, the building’s age and lack of accessibility contribute to the need for renovations, Nelson said, noting that buildings like the Lodge usually have a lifespan of about 30 to 50 years.

Now that the building is more than 75 years old, problems are emerging with its foundation and the logs it is built from, Nelson said. Additionally, the Lodge’s plumbing and electrical systems, while safe, are not up to code, Nelson said. Last, he said, the building is not accessible — there are no elevators, and the existing stairs are steep and narrow.

Nelson added that the Lodge, built for a smaller student body and before the Dartmouth Outing Club first-year trips program grew to its current size, does not meet Dartmouth’s current needs.

Because the project is still being appraised, Nelson said, little is known about how much of the current building will remain.

“We’ll assess whether our needs will be addressed by a thorough, top-to-bottom renovation of the Lodge, whether there needs to be a new structure, or whether the solution is to disassemble just parts of the current structure,” Nelson said.

Groups of students, faculty, staff and alumni have told the College that it must keep the building’s rustic feel and sense of community following renovations.

Ariana Sopher ’14, who helped construct the Class of 1974 bunkhouse, said she hoped that any renovation would keep the current Lodge’s “homey” feeling.

“It should definitely be all wood, all timber frame,” Sopher said. “I’d be really sad if they drastically changed anything and it was unrecognizable.”

Nelson agreed, and said it is important to work with natural materials that fit the environment.

“People would have real misgivings if we used materials that are shipped here from the other side of the country,” Nelson said. “A big steel, glass and concrete structure, while appropriate in a different environment, is not appropriate here.”

Five years ago, the Class of 1984 sponsored and built a cabin for the Lodge crew, kicking off renovations to the bunkhouses. The College has rebuilt one bunkhouse per year and plans to rebuild them all, Nelson said, though it still seeks sponsors for some projects.

After the Class of 1974 Bunkhouse is finished, renovations will continue this fall with the reconstruction of a cabin sponsored by the Class of 1965.

The Class of 1965 Cabin, initially completed in 1977, sees up to 2,000 overnight stays a year, and is “in need of urgent replacement,” according to a report by the Class of 1965. Construction is expected to cost $432,000 and be finished by June 2015.

Last fall, Rebecca Novello ’14 helped build the Class of 1974 Bunkhouse alongside other students and alumni. The project, she said, helped bring together generations through a love of the space.

“I loved getting to talk to the alums, who had a memory of a place I love so much from 40 years ago,” she said.

Sopher said that the work was often difficult. Some of the beams that workers had to lift had cross sections of a foot, she said.

The project, overseen by TimberHomes LLC, spanned the fall and spring, Nelson said. Fall building sessions culminated in a timber framing workshop, during which the bunkhouse’s timbers were cut and assembled into the final structure. Throughout the spring, he said, they added the finishing touches.