On the night of January 14, 2015 a fire at the Northeastern University Hus-skier and Outing Club (NUHOC) Brown Memorial Lodge resulted in the loss of the building and the heart of a community. Although it was a devastating loss, the dedicated NUHOC students that cherish the outdoors and their White Mountain home are already looking forward to the future.
Crowded bunks, communal meals, limited cell-service and proximity to the mountains and forests make these spaces ideal for the growth of a community. For Northeastern, the Brown Memorial Lodge creates a space to share stories, skills, and a love of the outdoors. Living together, even for just a weekend, provides an escape from the real world that brings people together.
In 1971, NUHOC students raised funds to build a lodge north of Mt. Washington on the edge of the White Mountain National Forest. The Brown Memorial Lodge, referred to as the “Loj,” was the foundation of the NUHOC community for decades. Even in recent years, with no phones or wifi, it was a place to live presently, focused on the company around you and the adventures to come.
Because of the location of Northeastern in downtown Boston, the Loj not only served as a base for trips, but an escape from crowded city life. Jesse Morrow, a first-year Northeastern student, explained, “One of the biggest transitions coming to college was moving to a city with limited greenspace. It is important to me [to stay in] touch with the outdoors.” For Morrow and so many others, “the Loj was an escape to the freedom and adventure that could be found in the Whites.”
While NUHOC activities span far beyond the Loj, the sense of unity and belonging found at their home-base cannot be recreated on a day-hike or at a climbing gym. “The Loj was a welcoming home for new people in the NUHOC community,” Goos Boer, a second-year, said. “It connected people who had been in the club for five years to freshman who were up for their first time.”
“The diversity of students from all different majors and departments, as well as different hometowns and backgrounds really makes the NUHOC community interesting,” Morrow added. “Staying at the Loj showed me what NUHOC is about and allowed me to connect with members that I had just met.”
At the first general meeting after the fire, dozens of students from all years and even some alumni came out to share stories about how the Loj had changed their lives. The loss of the Loj has been very difficult “both as a community and as an active response team,” Danielle Wagner, a second-year, explained. “It’s hard not having the Loj as our home base, but our [executive] board has been absolutely amazing about organizing other activities– rock-climbing, [skiing and hiking].”
There are already plans within the community of NUHOC members and alumni to begin the rebuilding process within the year.
“Until then,” Wagner said, “the Loj will live on through stories, memories, crazy recipes, and most importantly, the NUHOC community’s love.”