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reed magazine logoSeptember 2010

Eliot Circular Continued

Ski Cabin Gets Fresh Coat

ski cabin

The once (1958) and future Reed Ski Cabin.

The Reed Ski Cabin, which has served as the gateway to Mount Hood for generations of students and alumni, is undergoing a long-overdue renovation.

Originally constructed in 1949, the cabin has seen considerable wear and tear over the years—and developed a distinctive aesthetic. (Its whimsical assortment of Scrabble tiles—including at least 3 Qs—has confounded many players accustomed to the standard set.) Now a group of donors, led by mountaineering enthusiast George James ’77—who built the cabin’s original sauna in the ’70s—is bringing renewed functionality to the place that meant so much to them during their time at Reed.

George’s $700,000 gift will create more amenities, including a game room in the newly finished basement, a ski wax area for equipment repairs, and an outdoor deck.

Reed has taken an inclusive approach to the remodel, as a glance at the project’s alumni roster reveals. Sienna Hill ’99 led the design team at ZGF Architects. Her Timberline-like frame will be filled in with fine strokes by furniture maker Todd Nopp ’96, who refashioned some of the cabin’s age-old furnishings with a rustic flair. “My experience at the Ski Cabin was super-comfortable, but sort of grungy,” said Todd. “I’m trying to make it an appealing destination.”

Case in point: the cabin’s well worn inn table, once scraped and splintered, now sports iron paneling below its crest and an added drawer. In place of a typical knob is an actual railroad spike, a touch Todd added to make the space more interesting.

Todd is also making new furniture for the cabin: inn tables, a coffee table, and an island for the kitchen are among the additions that will fill the spacious interior.

Talk of these changes has raised some concern in the alumni community that the remodel would spoil the cabin’s original aesthetic, but Will Symms, assistant director of physical education, disagrees.

“I think most people will be delightfully surprised with the changes that occur at the Ski Cabin,” Symms says. “The college has gone to great lengths to ensure that the olde Reed vibe and feelings remain in a new and functional design for present, past, and future generations to enjoy.”

Towny Angell, Reed’s longtime director of facilities, is convinced that the cabin will retain its quaint feel, in part because the wood for the new furniture comes to the project from another Reed connection. Sarah Deumling ’69 owns a sustainable forest a few miles west of Salem and has agreed to contribute Douglas-fir wood for the remodel. (Why? It’s the same kind of tree that dots the shoulders of Mt. Hood.)

Sarah’s wood has more than sentimental value: cut from a sustainable forest, the trees are cultivated using the industry’s best social and ecological practices. “I spend hours in the woods every day,” says Sarah. “And the way we do forestry is far more labor-intensive—if you’re not going to spray, there’s more work to be done. It’s a very interesting combination of art and science.”

We predict that the Scrabble set will still contain a few surprises.

—Brandon Hamilton ’10
For more about the once and future Ski Cabin, see

reed magazine logoSeptember 2010