College set to demolish historic Harper House

Last Monday, workers started preparing for the demolition of Harper House, which is scheduled to begin on March 9.

Harper House is located on Stetson Court. It was constructed in 1854 and was purchased by the College in 1999.

“Harper House is important to the town … with features … that speak eloquently of an era in our history as only architecture can,” wrote Tela Zasloff in an article in The Greylock Independent.

Harper House was the previous location for the Center for Environmental Studies and the Zilkha Center for Sustainability Intitiatives. The College is demolishing the building in order to build a 60-bed dormitory on Stetson Court. The dormitory will be built on the former site of Mather House and Harper House. Mather House was relocated last fall after Vincent Guntlow of Guntlow and Associates bought it. The College was unable to find a buyer for Harper House in the allotted time period.

“To take down a building that’s more than 100 years old, you have to notify the town’s Historic Commission,” Jason Moran, senior project manager, said. “The commission typically sets a delay of 90 days before the building can be taken down. This is to allow time for alternatives to be pursued. In this case, the College advertised the house’s availability in a variety of local media. We had extensive conversations with one interested alumna, but moving a house is a complicated thing and we weren’t able to work out a plan in time.”

The demolition project was awarded to J.H. Maxymillian, Inc. This contractor will handle the mobilization and demolition project and the soil remediation necessary to prepare the site for the construction of the new dormitory.

As part of the initial mobilization for the demolition, construction fencing, which was already in place from the relocation of Mather House, will be modified and added to accommodate the safety needs of the demolition.

The building occupants of adjacent buildings were notified of construction activity in a notice sent out on Feb. 16 and updated on Feb. 23. The notice was for the entire process of constructing the new dormitory. After the demolition is complete, mobilization for construction of the new dormitory is scheduled to begin April 1 and the new dormitory is scheduled to be completed by August 2016. The demolition process will be completed by March 31.