Lowell House Defies Mold

Although Lowell House is known for its traditional teas and winter waltzes, no stereotype can pin down the house's character.

"Lowell doesn't really have an image," says house committee co-chair Meredith A. FitzGerald '95. "That's why we're having trouble finding something to put on the T. Shirt."

Once upon a time, Lowell's image was "not really nerdy, but academically inclined," says house master William H. Bossert '59, who lived in Lowell as an undergraduate.

A few years ago, the house T-shirt described Lowell as the place where "every night is a Tuesday night," Bossert says.

But students say things have changed with randomization, and Lowell is becoming increasingly diverse.

In fact, some residents say the lack of a house stereotype was one reason they listed Lowell on their freshmen lottery forms.

Other students say they picked Lowell because of its convenient location, classic architecture, and spacious courtyards.

"The courtyards are really nice when the weather's warm," says Jessye E. Lapenn '93. "It is great if you want to have a picnic or a meal outside, or just hang out during the day."

And in the spring, the courtyards are the site of frequent barbeques, according to Todd A. Meister '93.

Each spring the house also gives an outdoor performance of Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture.

"Everyone who has an instrument can show up and play," says Assistant Senior Tutor Christoph H. Luthy. "It turns into quite a frivolous thing"

Students say house events that take place throughout the year help create a sense of community.

One favorite is Lowell's weekly teas, which features pastries prepared and served by the masters. The Thursday teas are a longstanding tradition that began when the house opened in the 1930s, Bossert says.

"The teas are an opportunity for house bonding that I haven't seen happen in other houses," says Michael D. Rosenbaum '94 a former Crimson photography chair.

"They bring everyone together," says Joanna H. Lipper '94.

But Lowell's lack of common space can make socializing in the house difficult, especially since most suites aren't Large enough for parties says Sultan M. Tay '95.

"We're trying to make the ICR available and get people to go there FitzGerald says.

Lowell's Claverly residents say it's hard to get involved in house life.

"It's tougher to feel in contact with what's going on It's sort of its own different community," says Claverly resident Roel R. Torres '94

But Rosenbaum, who also lives in Claverly, says the "absolutely incredible" rooms compensate for the inconvenience.

Bossert describes Lowell House as "traditional and scholarly,"

"It's known as one of the more traditional places that values old formalisms," Bossert says. "It's a some what stodgy image."

But despite Lowell's emphasis on tradition, students say the house doesn't have a conservative atmosphere.

"I wouldn't say Lowell is traditional in a conservative sense there's no need to conform. These activities are about being part of a house," Lipper says.

One springtime tradition is the Lowell House Opera, which first performed in 1935, Bossert says.

But the opera has garnered complaints from some students since rehearsals and performances interrupt dinner.

"People don't like being inconvenienced. For a couple of weeks there's no inter-house, and you get kicked out of the dining hall by 7 p.m.," Rosenbaum says.

Still, Luthy says, students who take part are "proud" that it's the oldest ongoing opera company in New England.

Another house tradition is the Winter Waltz, a black-tie event accompanied by chamber orchestra, according to Bossert.

"A lot of people went [this year]," Lipper says, "In terms of the music and orchestra it gives you the illusion of being in Vienna."

Bossert also cities Lowell's strong senior common room as one of the house's distinguishing features.

"We have academically strong tutors. We strive to choose tutors who will be faculty members in the future," Bossert says.

And students agree that the tutors enhance house life.

"The tutors are really accessible and there's always somebody to talk to you," Meister says.Crimson File PhotoLowell House