Demolition of Unused College Properties to Begin Soon

Posted April 14th, 2011 at 2:01 pm.

The following was sent via email last week:

To:  The Campus Community

From: Jerry Berenson

The College has received Township permits to demolish four former faculty houses:

1013 Wyndon Avenue (near Applebee Barn)

1000 New Gulph Road (corner of New Gulph and N. Roberts Rd.)

233 N. Roberts Road (next to MultiCultural Center, behind gym)

239 N. Roberts Road (next to 233, behind gym)

We expect to begin the demolition in the next couple of weeks.

The decision to pursue this course of action is one that we have approached cautiously after careful consideration of other possible options.  It has been driven by a number of factors, which include:

  • The houses are in a very poor state of repair. The cost of necessary repairs could exceed the fair market value of the houses.
  • The College no longer provides long-term, single-family housing units for faculty, although apartment units are still made available at Pen-y-Bryn and Arnecliffe for up to 7 years for tenure-track faculty.
  • The cost to convert these houses to administrative use is extraordinary due to all the code requirements for safety and accessibility that must be met. They also provide ineffective and inefficient layouts for most administrative functions.
  • We are at our limit for new construction on the main campus due to Lower Merion Township impervious surface restrictions. Demolishing these houses will afford us opportunities for future growth when the time is right.
  • Allowing continued physical deterioration of these houses will create safety hazards and would be an irresponsible act on the part of the College, even though there are no plans to redevelop these sites at this time.

Because two of these houses are on Lower Merion Township’s list of historic properties (Class 2), a Historic Resources Impact Study has been prepared for each of the houses by architectural historian, Dr. George Thomas, documenting its architectural history, use, and current condition.  An extensive set of photographs of each house has been collected as part of this historical documentation.  Bryn Mawr College remains committed to the preservation of its magnificent and historic campus, and, where it has been the prudent course of action, we have even adapted former faculty houses to other uses, i.e. MultiCultural Center, Cambrian Row, and Bettws-y-Coed.  Yet we also recognize that the future of each individual building must be evaluated independently.  Dr. Thomas’ conclusion for the house at 239 N. Roberts Road provides a fair summary for all four houses:

Given the badly deteriorated condition, the value to cost ratio implied by the nature of the building and the inability to meet modern code for academic uses except at extreme cost, the house cannot be put into usable condition.  Because of its sitting at the rear of the campus and the large properties around the college, the demolition of this house will not significantly affect other historic resources.

As such we have reached the conclusion that these four buildings no longer serve the needs of the College and there is no practical means of renovating or adapting them to other uses.   The decision to demolish them at this time is deemed to be in the best long-term interests of the College.

Jerry Berenson
Chief Administrative Officer

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