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In series of moves, GSWS to leave Boody-Johnson

February 16, 2018

Correction: In our desire to break this story, an earlier version of this article jumped to the conclusion that Boody-Johnson House was to become student housing next year. In an email to the Orient, Dean of Students Tim Foster said the administration was only exploring the possibility of the house being converted into student housing, timeframe unknown, and confirmed that if this transition were to happen, it would not be next year. 

The Department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies (GSWS) will move out of Boody-Johnson House, located at the intersection of Boody Street and Maine Street.

The change will catalyze a number of other shifts. The GSWS Department will move to Ham House on Bath Road, bumping out the Treasurer’s Office, which will move to 82 Federal Street. Currently unoccupied in the front, the back of 82 Federal Street is used by the Department of Theater and Dance’s costume shop, which will move to leased space at 51 Harpswell Road.

“The idea of having three academic houses side by side here on Bath Road—[Ham House] along with Riley [House] and [Edward] Pols [House]—makes a lot of sense,” said Treasurer Matt Orlando in a phone interview with the Orient. “Administrative offices like the Treasurer’s Office don’t need access to students, so going to 82 Federal next to the Investment Office alongside the couple buildings occupied by the Development Office is a nice corridor of administrative offices.”

“[The GSWS department has] been happily housed [in Boody-Johnson] for a number of years now,” said Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies Jennifer Scanlon, who noted that the department will most likely move this summer. “It’s a beautiful old vintage Bowdoin kind of a building, but we’re also excited about moving to Ham House which will be more centrally located … in terms of proximity to our colleagues.”

While the College has discussed turning the house into student housing, the plans have not yet been confirmed. According to Assistant Director of Residential Life Mariana Centeno, the house will not serve as a College House. Dean of Students Tim Foster hopes to formally announce plans by the end of the month.

“As soon as I am in a position to be able to talk about our residential future, I will, but I’m not in a position to do so right now,” said Foster in a phone interview with the Orient. “We’re continuing to—as I wrote to the community earlier [in November]—think about our residential facilities and our residential experience [and focus on] renovating and building new upperclass housing.”

“This building is along this row of buildings that traditionally house students,” said  Scanlon, who stated that the transition of the Boody-Johnson into student housing was “pretty certain.” “This building has traditionally housed students in the past. It makes some sense that the College would want to turn this back into a house for students.”

Built in 1849 in the Gothic Revival style, Boody-Johnson House received national recognition in 1850 when it was mentioned in Andrew Jackson Downing’s “The Architecture of Country Houses.” The house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975, solidifying its place as an important symbol of nineteenth-century American architecture. It formerly served as the residence of the College president.


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