Photo Gallery | The Log is reborn at Williams College
WILLIAMSTOWN — The Log, Williams College's legendary center for revelry and retreat, has reopened under local management after an ambitious $4.5 million studs-out renovation.
Unlike in the past, The Log will be open to the public while still serving students, staff and faculty.
According to Stephen Klass, vice president for campus life at Williams, generations of alumni have fond memories of The Log, and were anxious for its return. Built in 1941 by Kenneth Reynolds, Class of 1916, The Log was donated to the college and then known as Alumni House.
Until the drinking age changed in the mid 1980s, Klass said, "The Log used to be a place where all four classes could get together, have a beer and some munchies and hang out. It was one of two or three centers of social gravity at the college for a long time."
But then the drinking age became 21, excluding most of the students from imbibing there. Eventually, The Log closed and was used primarily for special functions and conferences.
About three years ago, Williams President Adam Falk asked Klass to start figuring how reopen the space in a way that would attract the college community as well as the general public.
After having dialogues with students and alumni, Klass developed a plan.
"We found that they wanted a place that didn't feel like a college facility, an informal setting close to campus where all four years of students could socialize," Klass said. "And they wanted it to be open to staff, faculty and the public so they could be part of the overall community."
So the nine-month renovation began, entirely funded by alumni donations. Local contractor Albert Cummings managed the project.
The work was extensive inside and out. The weathered original clapboard was removed, insulation added, and new clapboard installed. A solar array on the new roof will provide roughly 25 percent of the power needs. The rebuilt deck on the building's south side will provide patio seating.
Care was taken to make the new Log feel like the old Log, but better, Klass said.
Its original wood floors, some of its planks salvaged after the 1952 fire that gutted the campus's West College building, have been refinished. The old tabletops, sporting the carved names and initials of past students, were salvaged and put to use in The Log's West College and Dodge Rooms. The bar was relocated from its original spot in the West College Room to make way for a new and expanded kitchen. The bar sports a rough-hewn West College beam as its foot rail, and the bar space features two new bathrooms. The interior features murals representing the history of the college and the town; wood panel walls, two working fireplaces, and a big screen television in the bar. It now seats about 185 people.
After a bidding process, Klass said, the management team at Hops & Vines Beer Garden & Brasserie, a Water Street establishment, was chosen to operate the food and beverage service.
According to Log manager Michelle Forth, this is a new approach to opening a restaurant, because nobody is quite sure what to expect in the way of patronage. The menu has to appeal to both students and alumni, as well as the general public. But how much patronage they can expect from any of the three groups is unknown.
"It's a very unusual situation as a restaurateur," she said, "which is what makes it so exciting."
She and Chef Robert Beuth worked with college officials and a group of students to compose a menu.
Forth is looking forward to hosting a variety of special events featuring live music, choral performances, poetry readings and visitors to sporting events.
"I expect it will be different everyday," she said.
The Log is open to the public nightly for dinner and for lunch on weekends — from 3 p.m. to midnight, Monday through Friday; noon to 2 a.m. Saturday, and noon to 11 p.m. on Sunday — with varying beer and wine offerings. Williams students receive a 30 percent discount on food.
The menu features salads, burgers, pizza, small plates like mini chili cheese dogs and wings, and family-style meals for sharing, including fried chicken and waffles. A late-night menu will be served starting at 9:30 p.m. It will open for lunch Monday through Thursday starting in January.