The college purchased a new house to serve as the President’s House, announced Provost and Dean of the Faculty Catherine Epstein at a faculty meeting on April 27. The new house, located at 46 Sunset Avenue, is expected to be ready for the new president by late 2022.
Made by the Board of Trustees, the decision to retire the current President’s House — which has served the dual function of hosting official college functions on its first floor and housing the college’s presidents and their families on its second since its construction in 1834 — was primarily motivated by privacy concerns, said Executive Director of Planning, Construction, and Design Tom Davies in a statement to The Student.
The concerns stem from the fact that the existing President’s House frequently hosts meetings and events and is subject to substantial foot traffic, Davies said. The board had expected these issues to be aggravated by the planned addition of the Aliki Perroti & Seth Frank Lyceum, a new academic building, just south of the existing President’s House in 2023.
Davies said that President Biddy Martin’s departure at the end of the academic year and the arrival of a new president “offered a logical opportunity” to address these concerns with the purchase of a new house.
While the new use for the existing President’s House is yet to be determined, Martin said at the April 27 faculty meeting that she would recommend to the board that they designate it a new faculty meeting space.
Plans to purchase a new house first began to form during Fall 2021, but the “heated condition” of the real estate market meant that options were limited, Davies said. Of the available options, several houses were considered but ultimately not selected because they would have required extensive renovations or were too far from campus.
“The board considered it important that the house be close to campus and within walking distance for the next president,” Davies stated.
When the college learned that a 3,700-square-foot house had become available at 46 Sunset Avenue — just a half mile northwest of the current President’s House, but in a residential area more removed from the bustle of campus life — lawyers began negotiating the sale, and the purchase was finalized in December 2021.
According to its Zillow listing, the new President’s House, built in 1912, is three stories, with four bedrooms and 10 bathrooms (five full and five half). It features a built-in pool in its backyard.
However, Davies said that the house, which has not been substantially updated since the 1950s, will require renovations to modernize its mechanical systems and surfaces. Barring any supply-chain issues, renovations are expected to be completed this fall.