Diamonds in the Rough

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a first-year in possession of a housing ballot must be in want of

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a first-year in possession of a housing ballot must be in want of a room. But not just any room. After all, this is Harvard, where every student lusts after high ceilings, hardwood floors and gold plaques with inscribed Latin sayings. The glories of the Belltower and the Eliot 10-man have already been extolled many times. But what about the forgotten gems of the housing lottery too often forgotten in favor of more famous haunts? As first-years await their housing fates, due to arrive next week, FM previews several jewels of Harvard’s dorms.

“The bachelor pad”

Eliot N-21

“People say, ‘Your bathroom looks like a bedroom,’” Matt L. Butler ’04 says of the typical astonished reaction to the size of his lavatory. Located in N-entryway, which he dubs “the ’burbs” because it is removed from the main Eliot courtyard, the suite is best known among Eliot residents for its massive and comfortable brown couch, nicknamed “Cocoa.” The mantelpiece, the parquet floor in the bathroom and Butler’s well-selected prints lend the suite a distinctively twenties air. The built-in cabinet and bar are “conducive to parties—cocktail parties,” Butler amends. It is hard to imagine any other kind of gathering taking place in a room with a Winslow Homer painting hanging beside a window overlooking the scenic Charles. Butler proclaims that access to the entryway is restricted to keyholders rather than the more typical swipe-card entry, making it an “ultra-exclusive” enclave. He adds, “Nobody knows about this room —it’s sort of a secret.”

“The T.S. Eliot room”

Apley Court 42

Caroline E. Jackson ’06 has nothing but rave reviews for her Apley Court triple, bragging, “When you walk inside, you don’t feel like you’re inside. It feels nice and spacious.” With its gilded staircases, claw-foot bathtubs and predominance of marble, Apley is widely considered to be the cream of the first-year housing—especially by those poor souls residing in the skim milk of first-year housing. Apley’s shell sconces over the water fountains, oaken moldings straight out of Architectural Digest and fireplaces worthy of an English country inn place it more than a few notches above Canaday. Jackson’s also quick to sing the praises of the “really, really tall doorways” and her room’s extraordinary pedigree—T.S. Eliot ’09 once lived here. As well as the fellow freshmen who occasionally arrive just to behold the room’s legendary beauty, T.S. Eliot fanatics have been known to drop by. Jackson recalls that one woman was particuarly insistent on looking out the window, announcing, “I want to see T.S. Eliot’s view.” Sadly for the literary-minded, the multi-panelled window of Apley 42 now looks out on a distinctly uninspiring parking lot.

“The Apartment”

Claverly Hall 19

“The ceiling’s really high, plus the window seat is amazing,” says Maya N. Anand ’03 of the Claverly double she shares with Vivian W. Lien ’03. Despite Clavery’s legendary art deco, Grand Hotel ambience, the girls claim their corner room is “totally overlooked” in the housing lottery. The spacious suite boasts two singles for the pair and a sizeable foyer—pronounced the French way, of course. But the jewel of the suite is definitely its huge, semicircular common room with gorgeous bow windows and a wraparound window seat. “Aside from our room being so ridiculously big that Maya and I spent an hour just jumping around in it when we first moved in, I love that it has so much makes it feel less like a dorm room and more like an apartment,” comments Lien.

“The bowling alley”

Kirkland I-34

The girls of Kirkland I-34 have a much better view. Their room faces a row of windows in Eliot, allowing them to see “whatever goes on in there,” Michelle T. Young ’04 slyly notes. Colloquially known as “the bowling alley” due to its narrow hallways interspersed with airy common rooms, the spacious quad mirrors the floor plan of next-door neighbor Kirkland A-31, where four junior boys reside. The rooms are separated by a fire-door, but Young laughs that “we’re good friends with them, so it worked out.” The strikingly large common room has served as the clothing storage and fitting area for the winter fashion show “Contradictions,” which Young and her roommate organized. Had they so desired, the corridor could easily have been transformed into a convincing catwalk. Although Kim reveals that her blocking group was “initially devastated” to receive the 2nd-to-last pick in the Kirkland housing lottery, the girls are now deliriously happy with the unique configuration of their “bowling alley” home. With a bathroom the size of many people’s common rooms and the occasional games of telephone with the Eliot suite across the way, Young and her roommates wouldn’t have it any other way.

“The library”

Clavery Hall 9

Claverly 9 has the aura of a smoking room, or a gentleman’s club from long ago. It’s called the “library” because of the beautiful dark-wood bookcases built into the wall of the common room. It also boasts massive windows nearly twice the height of its occupants, Eugene M. Simuni ’04, who is also a Crimson editor, and Boris Gokhfeld ’04. The two are Lowell affiliates but Gokhfeld is adamant that their room is “a lot nicer than anything you can get in Lowell.” The full-wood paneling in the main room of the suite, the sconces and the token fireplace help to give the room an old-Harvard feel. But Simuni is proudest of his “secret liquor cabinet”—an old rolltop desk that hides a martini glass, shaker and other must-haves of the smart set that ensures the gentlemen of Clavery 9 are always ready for a toast to the glory of the housing lottery.