Lawrence to be 1st Brandeis president to live in Waltham

Fred and Kathy Lawrence will move to Watch Factory on Charles River in July

Photos/Mike Lovett

President Lawrence walking across bridge at Prospect street toward campus.

President Fred Lawrence fondly remembers his walks along the Potomac River when he lived in Georgetown and commuted on foot to the George Washington University Law School, where he served as dean. Soon, he will enjoy strolling along the riverbank in Waltham.

The president and Professor Kathy Lawrence of the English Department are moving this summer from their current apartment in Cambridge to an apartment on the second floor of the historic, renovated Watch Factory along the Charles River on Crescent Street, less than a mile walk from campus.

Lawrence will be the first of the eight leaders of Brandeis to call Waltham home, according to university records.

“Brandeis is a big part of this city and we’re excited about joining the Waltham community as residents,” said Lawrence. “It will be more convenient for students, faculty, staff, trustees and friends of the university to join us at our home. It is something we really enjoy and this will allow us to do more of it. On a personal note, it will give me the opportunity to walk to and from campus, especially on Shabbat.

“I often walked along the Potomac when I worked in D.C., so it will be great to be able to walk here as well. I am really looking forward to it ,” he added. 

Senior Vice President for Administration Mark Collins said the university will sign a three-year rental agreement for the second floor apartment on the Prospect Street end of the property. The apartment includes two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a half bath, a study/office and a great room, Collins said. The president and Mrs. Lawrence will move into their new residence in July, he added.

The factory was constructed by the Waltham Watch Company over a span of a half-century, beginning in the 1860s. It includes 22 interconnected buildings and covers more than 400,000 square feet. The redevelopment includes a mix of commercial, residential and retail space.

”Just a walk away -- it’s kind of a neat idea,” said outgoing Student Union President Herbie Rosen ‘12. “He’ll be our neighbor in Waltham. Students will be a lot freer to go and visit the president. I think they’ll like it.”

Since coming to Brandeis, the Lawrences have been living in an apartment the university rented for them in Cambridge. President emeritus Jehuda Reinharz and his wife, Shulamit, a professor of sociology and director of the Women’s Studies Research Center and the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute, lived in a university-owned home at 66 Beaumont Avenue in Newton for most of his 16 1/2 year tenure. Since Reinharz stepped down, the university has been assessing the house in the context of its long-term real estate needs.

The Board of Trustees voted in March to authorize the university to sell the Beaumont Avenue property and hold the proceeds while the university’s long-term presidential housing needs are determined. No timetable was set. Hammond Residential in Chestnut Hill will list the house today for $2,250,000.

Prior to Reinharz, the only other Brandeis president to reside at 66 Beaumont Avenue was the university’s first leader, Abram L. Sachar, who lived there during his presidency and subsequent chancellorship. The home was built in 1910 and acquired by Brandeis in 1948. It was sold in 1990 after the Sachars moved, then re-acquired during the Reinharz presidency. Its famous visitors include Albert Einstein, Eleanor Roosevelt and the Dalai Lama.

During one period, Brandeis owned a house at 1395 Commonwealth Avenue in West Newton that was purchased from Carl Shapiro in 1983. Evelyn E. Handler and Samuel O. Thier lived there during their presidencies. Morris B. Abram and Charles I. Schottland resided in a university-owned home in Weston, while Marver H. Bernstein lived in his own house in the same town.

No Brandeis president has ever lived in the city of Waltham, though Board of Trustees minutes dating back to the early 1980s show that the possibility of constructing a presidential home on campus has been discussed and left open.

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