David Hooke ’84: Building Legacy and Community at Dartmouth and Beyond
By Rebecca Hoeffler, Sustainability Fellow
Thanks to programs like the Dartmouth Outing Club, the Environmental Studies Program, and many others, Dartmouth has a long history of sending sustainability change agents out into the world. Through business, law, social justice work, finance, conservation, architecture and more this broad network of alumni are working everyday to get sustainability change done and give back to their local communities. David Hooke ’84 is an example of alumni doing just. David started TimberHomes LLC, a company which builds timber framed buildings, focusing on sustainability and community building. David’s passion for woodcraft and the outdoors is in his blood. His father was a Dartmouth ’53 and an avid member of the Dartmouth Outing Club. David came to Dartmouth in the fall of 1980 knowing he would join the DOC like his father. What he did not know, was how much the DOC would come to shape his time at Dartmouth, his family, and his career.
Like many students, David found the DOC community to be one of the kindest and most passionate groups on campus. As an undergraduate, David participated in cabin building and eventually met his wife Kathy '85, also an active DOC member. Later on David would be inspired by his wife’s work teaching in Ladakh, India which motivated him to center his career on community building and volunteering. In 1991, David returned to the Upper Valley to work as the Facilities Manager for Outdoor Programs for the next decade. One thing David focused on was reinventing the way student workers interacted with the Moosilauke Ravine Lodge. At the lodge, David reinvented the way student workers interacted with the space. While working with the Appalachian Mountain Club earlier in his life, David had learned about rotating duties, a work structure that allows every staff member to gain a holistic understanding of the Mountain Club. David implemented this rotating duty schedule at the Lodge. While it extended the training time for student employees, they appreciated and loved the myriad of duties it took to keep the Lodge running and to understand the Lodge as a whole. David’s favorite part of his role as Facilities Manager was, “being responsible for a remarkable piece of Dartmouth’s history.” David knows this history well, having published a complete history of the DOC back in 1987, titled, Reaching That Peak: 75 Years of the Dartmouth Outing Club.
During his time as manager, David got reacquainted with the cabin building he had supported as an undergrad. In 1994 he helped build the Beaver Brooke shelter on the north side of Moosilauke. Then, in 2001, he was hired by the Mountain School to facilitate the design of a cow barn. It was there he met timber-framing instructor, Josh Jackson and David and Josh came to see how timber framing not only creates beautiful builds buildings but brings people together. The two become fast friends, and, in 2005, they became business partners when they founded TimberHomes LLC. The cow barn project led David to discover his passion for timber framing. In his words, “Log cabins are very sequential, lay one log down, then another and so on. With timber frames you get to build a whole bunch of parts in advance, you eventually have a whole jigsaw puzzle that can be put together in as little as 1-2 days.” Apart for the actual building method, David’s excitement for timber framing stems from how the process engages people. He describes, “there is so much more community in timber framing. You can bring in a myriad of people with all different levels of experience, teach them a few basic principles and they become a valuable member of the team.” This hands-on approach to building design is what keeps David working on timber framing projects for Dartmouth and his business. In the future, David hopes to dedicate more time to writing on the subject, a passion he enjoys immensely.
TimberHomes LLC, with Dave at the helm, have built several bunkhouses at the Moosilauke Ravine Lodge and the barn at the Dartmouth Organic Farm. At the moment, David and the crew at Timberhomes LLC are helping build community at the Moosilauke Ravine Lodge by overseeing the construction of the newest Class of 1966 bunkhouse. Trees for several of the building’s timbers have been harvested this summer from the forest at the Dartmouth Organic Farm using horse logging. With a “raising” planned for early September, this project will unite the Dartmouth community in both the building process and through the building’s future use. In the future, David plans to hike with his family to see the new bunkhouses and make some memories of their own.