Groundbreaking Ceremony for Hepper House Dormitory

Putney held a groundbreaking ceremony on the Houghton Brook site, opening the way for construction to begin on a new dormitory which will be named Hepper House. 

This is one of two new dormitories that Putney will erect as part of its campaign Sing it Forward: A Campaign for Putney’s Future. Both dorms will provide housing for 22 students along with spacious apartments for faculty members and their families. 

The building will be named for Hepper Caldwell ’46, who has shaped the culture of the school in ways large and small. She came to Putney in 1939, met and married her husband here, and came back after college to teach history, raising four of her own children as well as countless others who came through her dorm. 

“This is a person with enormous emotional strength,” Sarah Gund ’60 said in the Putney Post article Welcome to Hepper House about the dorm’s namesake. It was her idea to name the dorm after Caldwell, and she spoke at the groundbreaking ceremony on Saturday, June 11 during Reunion Weekend. 

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Maria Ogden, a longtime Putney community member and family friend to Caldwell, opened the ceremony with a land acknowledgement. Outgoing head of school Emily Jones also spoke along with Caldwell’s three sons, Sverre ’73, Tim ’72 and Peter ’74. Caldwell’s husband Johnny ’46 was also in attendance. 

Chair of the Board of Trustees Josh Laughlin ’82, P’21, ’23 shared how building the two dorms now (rather than 70 years ago, when it was noted new dorms were necessary) is allowing Putney to create dorms that will live lightly on the land, moving the school closer to the goal of becoming a net-zero campus.

Both will be high performance and reflect current architectural thoughts around environmental efficiency, and they will be run exclusively on electricity that will be generated on the building and from solar sites on Putney’s campus and nearby. Other aspects include high standard building materials such as “certified” wood sourced from managed forests and composting toilets for the students populations.