Williams College completes $12M transformation of Weston Hall into welcome center

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WILLIAMSTOWN >> After a couple of years and $12 million worth of demolition and new construction, Weston Hall has been renovated and reconfigured to serve as the welcome center for prospective students and their families, and to house the admissions and financial aid departments.

Now that everyone is settled in to their new offices, Williams College is hosting an open house from 10:30 a.m. to noon Saturday for local residents who want to tour the renovated structure.

Most recently, the admissions department had been housed at Bascom Hall, which had originally been meant as a temporary arrangement, but wound up lasting 12 years, according to Fred Puddester, treasurer and vice president for finance and administration.

"The admissions office is really the front door of the college for prospective students," he said. "So we wanted to give it that prominent position and feel."

Located at 995 Main St. at the corner of Stetson Court, it now has much more prominence and exposure.

Weston Hall was built in 1905 and for a while housed the Center for Foreign Languages, Literatures and Cultures, which moved from there into Hollander Hall in 2008. It was used as swing space for offices and departments temporarily displaced throughout campus by building projects and reorganization. The last of the occupants were relocated in 2014 to allow preliminary work prior to the renovation project.

The building was completely gutted and the one-story addition at the rear was taken down. The three floors were reconfigured for offices and conference space for the admission department on the second floor and financial aid on the third floor.

Financial aid had been housed in Hopkins Hall.

"We wanted to get admissions and financial aid into the same building — it's much more convenient for the applicants and for the two departments because they work together a lot," Puddester said.

A two-story addition was attached to the back of the building allowing more space for a presentation room on the first floor, where larger groups of prospective students and family members can be welcomed and see and hear more about the college, utilizing the big screen TV mounted on the wall. The first floor also has a reception area, and lounge for waiting for the campus tour to begin.

The new building makes processing the more than 7,000 applications and roughly 40,000 visiting applicants and family members every year much more efficient for everyone involved, Puddester noted.

"People driving down Main Street have seen for some time the construction taking place in Weston Hall, and the college is happy now to be able to invite the public to come see what that work has been all about," said Jim Kolesar, assistant to the president for community and government relations. "The project has converted what had become a warren of dark rooms into a welcoming place for prospective students and their families and for current students visiting financial aid."


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