Bulfinch Hall Begins Design Phase Of Major Renovation

Bulfinch Hall will undergo major renovations to make the building handicap accessible and become an improved learning and teaching facility. Bulfinch recently began the design stage of its renovation process. Funding for this project came from Tom Israel ’62, a portion of Oscar Tang’s campaign commitment and initial support of $1 million from earlier donors. The total amount of donations surpassed $4 million. Andover built Bulfinch in 1818-1819 to replace the schoolhouse that burned down in January 1818 from the efforts of its first fundraiser to raise construction funds. Head of School Barbara Chase said, “[Bulfinch] is a very distinguished, important building, and it needs a lot of work.” Major changes to the building will take place in order to implement handicap accessibility. “It has to be brought up to code in a number of ways. It needs an elevator. To put in an elevator means we have to take out some space from classrooms and offices, so we’re going to need to replace those and even enhance them,” Chase said. Additionally, the faculty offices will be placed in one area, a change from the current design of smaller, separate offices on different floors. Chase said, “Once we finish this renovation, faculty will have their work space together the way they do in science and the way they do in history and in social science. That’s been such a successful model for us because it means that the faculty all get to see each other informally.” Chase said that she believes it is important to preserve the history of the building. “[Bulfinch is] such an important building [and] our goal is to bring the [building] up to code, but also to respect the history of the building and the architecture. “That’s sometimes a challenge, and it was a big challenge [with] Commons. We also have that trade-off when we renovate buildings here: how do we make them work with the 21st century but also be respectful of the history and the heritage?” she said. Chase added that the renovations will be done in an environmentally friendly manner. According to Chase and Jeffrey Domina, Chair of the English Department, students and classes will not be affected during the renovation process. “[The renovation] was planned so that there is as little disruption as possible,” said Chase. Bulfinch Hall served a variety of purposes before it became the English building. In 1901, Bulfinch Hall housed the Robert S. Peabody Collection. A year later, hpwever, the building was restored, enlarged and converted into a dining hall named “The Beanery.” Bulfinch underwent several restorations before housing English classes beginning in 1936. Domina wrote in an email, “The department is very excited about the renovation, and we’re especially grateful to Mr. Tang, Mr. Israel, and the other generous donors who have made it possible. We’re optimistic that the work will renew and improve Bulfinch while preserving its character and charm.”