Bowdoin College

Boody-Johnson House Renovation

Brunswick, Maine

The Boody-Johnson House has been an important historic contributor to both the Bowdoin College campus and its adjacent neighborhood. Originally designed by Gervais Wheeler and built in 1849, the property has served many uses, including most recently academic department offices. A striking example of Gothic Revival architecture, Wheeler designed the “English Cottage” for Henry Boody, a Bowdoin faculty member. Its conversion into a 26-bed dormitory required sensitively inserting modern-day systems and amenities that would meet student’s needs and building codes while preserving the architecturally significant features.

Through the renovation and restoration, new uses have been introduced into historic spaces. Student bedrooms now occupy former parlors where the existing millwork details have been retained. Common lounge areas create cozy gathering opportunities in a portion of the house known as the Chase Barn, a 1920s-era addition. Providing accessibility to the second floor was accomplished by constructing a lift within the constraints of the existing roof structure in order to maintain the building’s forms and proportions.

During the design process, a paint analysis revealed that the Boody-Johnson house had three different exterior color schemes during its history. The renovation included restoring one of the more visually bold palettes that complemented the period’s architecture and reestablished the building’s prominence along Brunswick’s Maine Street.