Town approves Mather move

Mather House sits on the future site of the Stetson Court dorm. Christian Ruhl/Photo Editor
Mather House sits on the future site of the Stetson Court dorm. Christian Ruhl/Photo Editor

The College’s plan to build a new dormitory on land currently occupied by Mather House and Harper House was met with resistance from Williamstown residents at a town Zoning Board of Appeals meeting on Sept. 22 at Town Hall.

The College recently sold Mather House to Vincent Guntlow of Guntlow and Associates, who plans to keep Mather House intact and relocate it to 63 North St. He plans to use the building for a combination of offices and apartments. Mather House, which was built in 1840, is a historic property, and the Williamstown Historical Commission has expressed significant opposition to the College’s initial plan to demolish both Mather House and Harper House.

However, at the town meeting on Sept. 22, North Street residents objected to moving Mather House to the dead-end residential neighborhood of Lee Terrace, saying that it would have a negative impact on the character of the neighborhood and drive down the value of North Street properties.

After hearing these complaints, as well as statements from Guntlow and the Williamstown Historical Commission, the Zoning Board of Appeals came to a decision at a Thursday night meeting.

“They approved the development with conditions,” Andrew Groff, the Williamstown community development director, said. “That week between the original meeting and [the Thursday night meeting] allowed myself and chairman of the board to work together to look at the neighborhood impact.”

The Mather House relocation will continue as planned, but with a few changes. Mather house will be moved three feet to the east of the relocation site Guntlow planned at first, allowing for the construction of a six-foot fence between the house and Lee Terrace, as well as some additional screening in order to preserve the character of the neighborhood.

“In the end, it was a good compromise,” Groff said. “Nobody left the meeting overly happy about it, but that’s the nature of a good compromise.”