It is possible, if you look towards French’s Ledges from Dexter Richards Hall and let your gaze wander over to the right, to see, in a certain light, KUA’s former ski hill, named for Ira Townsend ’38 (KUA faculty 1945-1985). The ski hill was created by faculty and students over the course of many years and included an A-frame hut, two ski jumps, slalom runs, and a Poma lift. By the 1960s and 1970s, ski meets were being held there. Several years before this facility was up and running, a log cabin had been constructed at the top of the hill. One day Headmaster Brewster, while looking out a window in the old DR dining hall (now the KUA daycare) towards Frenches’ Ledges, suggested to physics teacher Wayland Porter, “There is where the Outing Club should have a cabin. Why couldn’t they build one themselves? It would keep some of these boys who do not go out for sports busy on a real con- structive project.” Thus began a three-year venture spearheaded by Porter with the assistance of the Outing Club boys.
They had a site, a committee of boys, and now they needed a building plan. The committee voted and the cabin designed by John Roche ‘38 was chosen. Logs with which to build the cabin came next. KUA had a wood lot near Corbin Park, located on the opposite mountain range, and that’s where they found their trees. They cut them down, stripped them of bark and branches and made them into logs. The problem of getting them from the park to the top of the ledges was solved by use of some financial aid from parents; Porter kept a journal and the first entry states that the committee wrote to parents asking for some help. With some of the money raised, they bought a model T Ford for $8.00. Porter wrote on May 9, 1938: “The boys will have a good time making it over into a truck to be used for working on wood roads and hauling logs.” They called “her” Emmet. After three years of hard work, problem solving, and many adventures, Porter’s last entry, May 20, 1941, states: “Eight boys worked on grounds about the cabin today to clean up the litter in preparation for a picnic supper to be held next Friday for the boys and girls who are going to the school dance. Hugh Campbell [class of 1943] leaned against an unfinished porch rail and fell five feet, just missing a tank of water. The tank is the one that used to be in the attic of Old D.R. Hall for a reserve supply of water.”
Porter’s Cabin, as it became known, was used for many years by the Outing Club, skiers, and as a place for school gatherings. The view from the cabin is one of the most spectacular in the area with the Academy and village below and the mountains beyond. The cabin is gone now. Porter’s son Phil ‘46, hiked to the top of the hill a few years ago and later wrote, “I recall the smell of pine and oakum in the building, and the warmth of the loft where we slept. Last year, I came across a fragment (end piece) of one of the logs used to build the cabin. I had burned the following statement on it: ‘in memory of the boys who built this cabin.’ It made a merry blaze in the fireplace at Sunapee (family home).”