The 2019-2020 academic year marks the final year Deerfield students will be living in Dewey dorm, as the building is scheduled to be demolished in the 2020 year.
Dorms play an important role in students’ lives at Deerfield by helping them cultivate friendships and memories. The demolition of Dewey marks the end of the era of students and faculty residents who have lived in the dorm.
Built in 1948, Dewey is located above the old health center and is currently an upperclassmen boy’s dorm. The decision to demolish Dewey followed after Deerfield planned to modernize the health center. While the old health center was a stunning and an extremely well constructed building in the early 1960s, the Academy believed that many of the materials used in the health center were outdated.
The old health center, located in the lower floors of the dorm, has a plaque dedicated to Johnny Gunther, whose story was told in the 1975 movie, Death Be Not Proud. Based off the book written by Gunther’s father, the movie, shot on Deerfield’s campus, tells the story of a Deerfield graduate’s struggle with brain cancer, which was the resulting cause of his death.
The administration considered renovating Dewey but decided against it after examining the physical concerns that the decision entailed. In addition, another problem lay in the fact that Dewey is a one floor-dormitory with only one faculty member assigned to it. The same faculty member would be present every single night, putting a significant burden on his schedule.
Dewey is known for the size of its rooms, as many of them were designed to house two students, but currently only house one. Despite the large size of its rooms, Dewey itself is a relatively small dorm, only housing 12 upperclassmen boys.
Because of its smaller size, Hall Associate John Taylor, shared, “the dorm is [even more] dependent on the students living in the hall”. Students that live or have lived in the dorm share this similar sentiment.
Drew Wizerbicki ’21, who currently lives in Dewey, said, “The close-knit community [is what I appreciate the most]… We’re all such good friends.”
As the dorm gets torn down, a new dorm will be constructed in its place. According to Associate Head of School for Operations Keith Finan, Dewey’s reconstruction is scheduled to start in June 2020 and scheduled to end in June 2021, if approved by the trustees.
One of the issues that incited the proposal to reconstruct the dorm was the lack of faculty housing. With the new construction, three additional faculty housing options will be added.
Initially, the Academy considered moving Dewey back and put it in line with DeNunzio. However, this relocation wouldn’t address the need for faculty housing. After the decision to build the new D.S. Chen Health Center was approved by trustees, there was another option to remodel and modernize Dewey. However, due to the old age of the building, the idea was reconsidered.
In order to build in the additional faculty apartments, a new dorm will be built.
Similar to Johnson/Doubleday, a common room will be built to connect the two dorms, but the dorms themselves will be separate. In an effort to preserve the environment of the small dorm, like Dewey, the new dorm will only house nine students on the top floor and eleven students on the bottom floor.
Finan summarized, “It troubles me greatly to have to tear the building down [but] it is the best solution for long term functionality and meeting both the needs of the students and faculty.”