“West” House Officially Renamed After Former Head of School Barbara Chase

Applause filled Underwood Room as former Head of School Barbara Landis Chase took the podium at the Chase House dedication ceremony last Friday. After a year of being known as West Dorm, the newly transformed Isham Infirmary has been named Chase House after Andover’s first female Head of School.

When Chase first began as Head of School in 1994, she had a vision of one day being able to renovate and modernize every dorm on campus in order to make room for more faculty apartments and more updated living spaces for students, according to Chase. After 20 years, her vision is becoming a reality with the recent renovation of Chase House and soon-to-be renovation of Bancroft Hall.

“The work begun before my time as head and carried on during my tenure has now been finished under John Palfrey’s watch. [Chase House’s] renovation as well as Bancroft… has completed the plan of the successive dean of students. Now there are pleasing and comfortable dorms with plenty of faculty to live with, teach, and befriend and role model for students,” said Chase.

“When I first came here as Head in 1994 those first several years, [my colleagues and] I were worried that some people who took their kids to some dorms would say ‘Oh no, we’re not living there.’ [But] I doubt that happens anymore,” Chase continued.

Head of School John Palfrey also recognizes the progress Andover has made over the years specifically regarding dorm renovations.

“In 1994, Barbara kicked off the commitment to renovate all of our dorms and to put in an additional home for a house counselor… and it turns out that this year we will finish that our 23 years later when Bancroft is renovated,” said Palfrey.

“It takes a very long time for these things to happen… and I can find no more fitting way in perpetuity [for Ms. Chase] to be remembered than by having [her] name on a dorm because this commitment is in bricks and mortar in the form of these renovations that happened as well as all the things [she has] done to strengthen the community,” Palfrey continued.

Rebecca Miller Sykes, former Associate Head of School, believes that the new naming of Chase House was well-deserved.

“Whether it was kindness, respect for human dignity, or her commitment to social justice, Barbara promoted fairness and recognized that especially in a residential school, how we treated one another was absolutely crucial,” said Sykes.

Emma Duffy ’19, who lived in Chase House this school year, recognizes the values instilled within the Chase House community.

“I love the community that Chase has… Everyone is really open, and you can have really interesting conversations with the people you run into in the hallway,” said Duffy.

“I hope that Chase can continue to have this great community and stay welcoming to newer arrivals. Chase house was a safe, comfortable place for me to not only live, but also study in… and all the friends I have made here also make an impact to my time spent in Chase,” Duffy continued.

Though Chase is no longer Head of School at Andover, Sykes hopes that her work, memory, and service to the Andover community will live on in Chase House and all its future residents.

“I hope the Chase girls now and evermore will be like Andover and like Barbara, who practiced her belief that there are three important things in life: to be kind, to be kind, and to be kind,” said Sykes at the closing of her speech for the dedication ceremony.

“[In my speech,] I said that the world desperately needs the leadership of good and wise, confident, resilient women, and I told the girls who were here ‘you will be ready,’ ” said Chase. “I hope that [residents] can give one another the kind of strength to persist.”