June blaze slows down Saybrook renovations

Saybrugians returned to a beautifully renovated college this year but will have to deal with three more weeks of construction as workers put the finishing touches on Saybrook, which was damaged by fire in June.

Although Saybrook’s dormitory rooms, dining hall, library, and common room have been completed, some students are without fully functional bathrooms, and Master Mary Miller’s arrival has been delayed by fire damage to her house. Fusco Corp., the project’s contractor, has promised that all work on Saybrook will be completed by Sept. 24.

Work on Miller’s residence was 90 percent done before a fire broke out in the house in June, said director of facilities Arch Currie. The fire did not spread to the rest of the college, but Miller and her family will not be able to move into the college until Sept. 14.

“They turned on a dime to get that all moving again and back on track,” said Provost Alison Richard, Yale’s chief academic and financial officer. “It’s a miracle really that it wasn’t worse.”

Some Saybrook students have encountered some minor problems since moving in. Many bathrooms still do not function properly, with unattached stall doors and missing shower knobs. Other students entered their suites and discovered that furniture had been placed in the incorrect rooms.

When Patrick Dundon ’04 moved into his suite in Saybrook’s High Street tower on Aug. 29, he discovered that workers were still working on the stairs and bathroom.

When Branford students returned to their newly renovated college last year, they were forced to deal with much more severe delays. They went several weeks without a dining hall, whereas Saybrook’s dining hall opened on schedule. Since Saybrook and Branford share a kitchen, Saybrook had the advantage of a kitchen that was already complete before renovations began.

Saybrook’s basement is still under renovation. Structural problems discovered this July delayed its completion. The finished basement will feature a multipurpose room, a game room, a special function room, a TV room, a buttery, and a student kitchen.

“Before renovations, Saybrook’s basement was the ugliest basement I had ever seen in any college,” Miller said. “We used to have the slummiest TV room.”

The college reopened to mixed reviews. Seniors, the only students to have lived in the pre-renovation Saybrook, said they are not impressed.

“There is not much of a difference,” David Nop Lee ’02 said. “The floors are a little nicer, and they basically just added a bunch of outlets. If anything, the rooms are more disproportionate now.”

“Things actually look smaller,” Daniel Chu ’02 said.

But sophomores said they are impressed by the newly renovated college. Many said that compared to their freshman quarters in Lanman-Wright Hall, Saybrook is palatial.

One of the most notable transformations to the college is the grass that was added to the previously all-stone Saybrook Courtyard.

“It is my personal favorite transformation because it is the most visibly appealing,” Miller said. “But since we don’t want to lose our football cheer, we will still call it the stone courtyard.”

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