Lawrence plans move to Waltham this summer
Published: Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, May 1, 2012 04:05
Brandeis University President Frederick Lawrence and his wife, Kathy, will be living within a mile of campus beginning this summer.
The Lawrences plan to move from their current Cambridge lodgings to an apartment in the newly renovated Watch Factory on Crescent Street in Waltham. The move will take place in late June or early July, when the first residential sections of the Watch Factory building are due to be completed.
The Lawrences, who have rented housing in Cambridge for the past year, will move to Waltham instead of relocating to the President’s House in Newton. University President Emeritus Jehuda Reinharz was still living in the house when Lawrence arrived to take over his position last spring. According to Senior Vice President of Communications and External Affairs Andrew Gully, when Reinharz left at the end of June last year, the University decided the transition would be a good opportunity to evaluate the house and decide whether or not to renovate it.
The Board of Trustees voted at their March meeting to sell the house and find different quarters for the new president. Gully wrote in an email to the Justice that Lawrence “had been considering a move to Waltham for several months prior to the vote.”
The presidential house is slated to go on the market later this week, according to Gully. He also wrote that the University will pay for Lawrence to live in the Watch Factory loft for the foreseeable future.
“The plan was always to try, if we could, to find something much closer to campus, and that’s what makes me very excited about this space,” said Lawrence in an interview with the Justice. “My thought was that in this time of the school’s history, and given the way in which I conceive of the president as being very much part of the life of the school, that this was a great opportunity to get us closer to campus,” Lawrence continued.
Lawrence noted his efforts to be visible on campus, saying that “being on campus and being with students, in many ways has been one of the hallmarks of my early presidency.”
While fostering unity and being accessible to students and faculty were important factors in his desire to live in Waltham, Lawrence admitted that his new home’s proximity to campus also had practical perks, such as being within walking distance of campus and the restaurants on Moody Street.
“It’s an opportunity to really be both in and of Waltham,” said Lawrence. “It lets me walk to work, which for me is one of the great privileges” and a habit that he developed in his previous position as dean of George Washington University Law School in Washington, D.C. Lawrence said he plans to take a path that stretches for a little less than a mile from the loft to campus, over the Charles River and by Mt. Feake Cemetery. “I have boots; I can do it in wintertime, too,” he quipped.
Lawrence also spoke of the possibility of entertaining “students, faculty, alumni, trustees [and] other friends of the school” at the new apartment.
The move is not unprecedented. Out of the seven presidents of the University, only two have lived in the same house.
While the Watch Factory residence is not likely to become permanent housing that will be used by future presidents, it is also “not designed as a short-term solution,” said Lawrence. The move is intended to “allow [the University] to think more broadly about what we want to do going forward,” he said.
The Watch Factory, which is being developed by Berkeley Investments, Inc., contains two residential areas on either side of the central section of the building, which has already been fully renovated and rented out as office space to various companies. The first residential section scheduled for completion, which includes Lawrence’s apartment, will feature a restaurant and a café, according to the Watch Factory project’s website. One of the finished buildings also contains a small museum with displays and artifacts from the history of the Waltham Watch Company.
According to Lawrence, much of the original architecture and materials of the building are being kept in the renovated apartments. “It’s really going to have the flavor of the late 1800s,” said Lawrence. “It’s … very much the history of Waltham.”