Elm Tree House at Mount Hope Farm, like the Log, is a truly amazing space that has historically been underutilized by the college.  The daunting challenge it presents is its location several miles from campus, which really limits its potential, as well as its own strict useage guidelines.  So far as I am aware, it only really gets used for one senior dinner dance event per year, a few alumni events per year, plus the odd conference here or there like a leadership studies weekend.  I’ve only been there twice, and that is once more than most alums I know.  But it is a spectacular building, in a spectacular location, and a tremendous asset.

Williamstown native Sarah Sylvester created some amazing concept sketches for potential renovations / additions to the Mount Hope Farm property.  I can’t imagine the main Elm Tree House ever being so extensively modified, but I love her idea for an amazing wedding chapel on the property (see image reproduced below).  A few Williams officials commented on Sylvester’s concept:

“We’ve had a few ideas brought to us for the mansion, but nothing as well thought out as this one,” said Diana E. Prideaux-Brune, the associate vice president for facilities at Williams. …
Several Williams College officials have looked at Sylvester’s proposal, including Director of Public Affairs James Koselar.

“I’d say that it’s academically interesting, but the college has no intention to significantly renovate Elm Tree House,” Koselar said in an e-mail to iBerkshires.com. “In terms of capital projects, our priorities remain construction of a new library and renovation of Weston Athletic Field.”

Prideaux-Brune said she hopes to meet with Sylvester in the near future to discuss some of her ideas.

“I think she did a great job. It’s an exciting proposal,” she said. “It’s big thinking, which I love. But with something that big, the ideas are not easy to implement.

“I suspect that something this major couldn’t happen right away, but some of her ideas could be implemented in our long-term planning.”

Chapel or no, I think it would be great if some of the use restrictions were lifted, and Elm Tree House could be used for more social functions, in particular weddings and/or events for those with a connection to either Williams or Williamstown.  It could even become a profit generator for Williams, while still being available for the paucity of annual college-related events it already hosts.  Do others have ideas for how to use this property?  Coolest off-campus dorm EVER?  Centerpiece of our effort to draw more interest from royal applicants?  Creepy Eyes Wide Shut-esque secret society clubhouse?  Wicked-awesome haunted house each Halloween?  Home base for annual Billsville Lebowskifests?  Portal to bizarro-Williams located in other dimensions?  Share  your thoughts here …

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