Williston Northampton School aims for ‘real community feeling’ with new dorm

  • New faculty and dormitory residences at Williston Northampton School in Easthampton, Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • New faculty and dormitory residences at Williston Northampton School in Easthampton, Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • New faculty and dormitory residences at Williston Northampton School in Easthampton, Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • New faculty and dormitory residences at Williston Northampton School in Easthampton, Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

Staff Writer
Published: 8/11/2018 8:00:49 PM

EASTHAMPTON – A few changes to the Williston Northampton School’s campus will greet students as they return for the fall semester.

A new student dormitory with four attached faculty homes that will house 40 students and four faculty families are nearing completion, as a part of the school’s vision for expanding their boarding school culture, according to Ann Hallock, communications director for Williston.

“We are making a residential quad and there will be a green where kids can hang out so they can have a real community feeling here,” Hallock said. “Formerly, we had students living in smaller houses in different places and this is an attempt to centralize and have more of a residential center.”

The nearly completed dormitory, which will house freshman and sophomores, is located at 210 Main St. and is across the street from the main part of campus. Construction began last fall and three buildings owned by the school were demolished for this project.

“The faculty residences are connected to the dormitory because if students ever need anything, there is someone there to check on them and hold meetings if necessary,” Hallock said. “There is a common room, kitchen, and everything that makes for a great community.”

The new dormitory will match the neighboring Victorian-style building at 194 Main St., which was built in 2008. Both were designed by Flansburgh Architects of Boston. 

The entire building, the dorm and faculty residences, will be a total of 28,641 square feet, according to plans provided by the school. The building will have geothermal heating, which provides for air conditioning as well, and solar panels on the roof.

“There’s been a lot of talk in terms of the environmentally friendly aspects of how the dorm has been constructed,” Hallock said.

A nearby resident said that Williston has been a “pretty good neighbor” yet she felt like the school caught her off guard when some large trees were recently cut down.

Dana Salisbury said within a 48 hour window four or five mature trees over three stories high were cut down.

“In current architecture and planning practices, much emphasis is given to working around trees, incorporating them in the built environment,” Salisbury said. “Williston should have known there were ways to save them and have value added to their project at the same time.”

Hallock confirmed that trees were cleared for the quad in front of the dormitory and said new trees would be planted around that area.

Salisbury raised her concern that Williston should have plans vetted with public comment given before plans were put into action.

Easthampton’s City Planner, Jeff Bagg, wrote in an email to Salisbury that, “The only trees the City has control over removal of are those within the street right of way. That tree was well outside of that area. The uses at Williston are educational and exempt from our local zoning so there is no planning board review.”

The new dorm does not mean that enrollment is going up, Hallock said, as it is mostly staying the same.

The 125-acre campus is home to 420 students from grades nine to post-graduate. Enhancing the school’s residential community was part of Williston’s 2014 campus master plan, and it helps centralize boarding school students, Hallock said.

An open house is scheduled for Aug. 30, from four to six p.m. at the dormitory and it is open to members of the public.

Luis Fieldman can be reached at lfieldman@gazettenet.com




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