Back in 2008 this site noted with suspicion the talk of the possible demolition and replacement of the Ravine Lodge.
A reading the 2010 edition of the Moosilauke Land Management Plan (pdf) is reassuring, however. While concerned, the folks in charge seem to be the last ones who would want to get rid of the building. From page 24 of the plan:
In 2005, the Moosilauke Advisory Committee and Outdoor Programs began discussing the replacement of the Ravine Lodge, because of maintenance issues and because the building was felt to be not sufficient for existing needs. In the fall of 2008, the College administration decided that, for the foreseeable future (at least five years) it does not envision reconstruction of the Ravine Lodge. The existing main building will be maintained as it long as it can safely be done, and rotten logs will be replaced, as part of the College operating budget through the Facilities Operations & Maintenance department (FO&M).
However, concerns about sufficiency of facilities continue.
That paragraph concludes with a warning of “the significant possibility of replacement of the Lodge in the not-too-distant future.”
When a dinner crowd can no longer be seated safely, or when a weakened log can only be replaced at great expense, how should the replacement Ravine Lodge look?
The recent Moosilauke practice has been to build excellent buildings with timber frames, but one could argue that the Ravine Lodge simply must be a log cabin. Does New Hampshire still have forests that can supply big logs economically? I have no idea. Could a sustainable harvest in the Grant provide the right timber? This could be the perfect time to play out Gregory Bateson’s “New College roof beam” story.1
The Ravine Lodge is famous for its collection of cast-off trail signs and other jetsam, and all of this would go to the replacement. Some of the original logs would be incorporated as well. Maybe the new lodge could have a foundation of granite instead of concrete. And the upgrades would be irresistable: it could have a high-capacity septic system, dedicated Croo quarters, a modern kitchen, an accessible elevator, and all the infrastructure the current lodge lacks. Maybe its dining room would be able to seat 125 instead of 85.
If fire safety is the main concern, could the old lodge be saved if its program were reduced drastically? Build the grand new lodge next door and turn the old lodge into a spacious but relatively little-used visitor center, bunkhouse, or storage building.
- As told by Stuart Brand, William McDonough, and others, the story is that there were no sufficiently-large oak trees on the market in all of England when the ancient beams in the hall of New College, Oxford finally needed replacement. The college head mentioned this to the college forester, and he replied, “we were wondering when you were going to ask about those trees.” It turns out that the forester and his predecessors through the centuries had been maintaining a stand of oaks specifically for the replacement of the hall roof. The story is mythical, of course, but it does seem to be based on real events, since the hall roof was replaced during the 1860s using oaks from college forests (Snopes quote from now-unavailable New College trivia page). ↩