A WORD FROM HEADMASTER WILLY MACMULLEN ’78
“Committing to our residential spaces—our many dormitories, some over a century old, others quite new—is a really important part of the school’s long-term planning.”
A redesigned common room in Horace Dutton Taft Hall Dormitory’s top floor.
STEWARDING THE HOME AWAY FROM HOME In 1890, not long after Horace Taft decided to open a school for boys, he found a house in Pelham Manor he could rent from a family friend, and in September, our school was born. Taft wrote in his memoirs, “The furniture arrived at the same time that the boys and their parents did. Carpenters were at work upstairs, putting up the beds. It was a most comical beginning of a school.” And so, even from that comedic start, ours was a boarding school. With this as our history, it will not surprise anyone that committing to our residential spaces—our many dormitories, some over a century old, others quite new—is a really important part of the school’s long-term planning. After all, we cannot separate what Taft is from the fact that many faculty and students live and learn together. Ours is not an original model, but it is a really good one, and an old one, shared by many great kindred schools which see powerful educational benefits in having students live at their schools. In the past dozen years, we have been in a dorm renovation campaign, which had several goals: ensure that students had safe, beautiful, and functional spaces; offer faculty housing of high quality; honor the architectural excellence of the campus; keep ahead of deferred maintenance; and create spaces that affirmed community and furthered our mission of the education of the whole student. I feel we’ve been able to meet the goals and with a real commitment to containing costs, in no small part due to the leadership of the board of trustees, the vision of our architect, the expertise of general contractors, and the management by business and facilities offices. It’s a good and important story. In these years, we have fully renovated McIntosh House (19,000 square feet, with 35 rooms, and 3 apartments), Congdon House (17,000 square feet, 36 rooms, and 4 apartments), HDT (37,000 square feet, 69 rooms, and 10 apartments), and CPT (42,000 square feet, 74 rooms, and 9 apartments). Renovating these existing spaces proved far less costly than constructing new buildings—and we preserved our history as well. For each dorm, we had a consistent approach of completing the work in summers, thus ensuring we did not have to take the building off-line or disrupt school. Each dorm took three summers to complete. The first summer, as I often noted, was “the stuff you don’t see,” but which is vital: new fire safety, electrical, plumbing, and mechanical systems. The second summer was the work you did see, the complete transformation of all living spaces: new bathrooms, common rooms, bedrooms, and hallways. A student seeing the dorm after that summer would barely recognize it from a few months before. Consider, for instance, the mid Taft Bulletin / SPRING 2019