As part of our Housing Market series, we'll be posting reviews and rankings for each of Harvard's 12 residential Houses over the next few days. Click here to read more about the series.
If you're a freshman, you may have seen Winthrop House when you first toured campus, but it's possible that you haven't passed the House since. Winthrop is easy to miss and is often overshadowed by the more prominent towers of neighboring Eliot, Lowell, and Leverett, but is flying under the radar such a bad thing?
Dining Hall: The Winthrop dining hall is a bit unassuming, but it's actually nicer than you would expect. Despite the fact that it's mostly underground, the lighting is still much better than that of other Houses (Adams, for example). If you're into exclusivity, freshman congestion hardly ever becomes a problem, and the dining hall has some of the toughest restrictions. In terms of interior attractiveness, Winthrop's dining hall is above average—it has a classic look to it, but the lack of large and open windows detracts from the overall aesthetic appeal.
Facilities: The common rooms in Winthrop are on the whole excellent. The Waka Commons was recently refurbished with a ping pong table and a huge flat screen, making it a destination for late-night procrastination. There are other large common room spaces, like the Junior Common Room and the Tonkens Room, both of which are used on a regular basis.
Rooms: The buildings that make up Winthrop used to be separate freshman dorms before they were combined to become a House in the 1930s. As such, Winthrop suffers the inevitable downsides of being comprised of old buildings, and mouse and roach sightings are not unusual.
Unlike other Houses, where singles are practically guaranteed, Winthrop lags behind. Few sophomores enjoy the luxuries of a single, but by the time senior year rolls around, you're almost definitely the king of your own bedroom. Although most housing is subprime, the senior seven-man suite is a sweet piece of river real estate. Additionally, everyone living in the House proper has at least some view of the river. Like most river Houses, DeWolfe is also a solid option for housing, boasting air conditioning and cable television.
House spirit: Winthrop's community is among the strongest around, and House spirit is arguably the best part of Winthrop's House life. Only Dunster and Mather could compete in terms of spirit among the river Houses, and Winthrop still might take the cake. Winthropians are quick to brag that they are the three-time defending IM champs. Even Throptalk, the house listserv, is a little bit more personal than other House lists, but it still consists mostly of event spam.
Location: Location is completely dependent on what you do. If you're a regular at the Eliot Grille, an athlete, or a Noch's aficionado, you're definitely in the right neighborhood. You'll never have to walk too far to satisfy late-night (food) cravings, making the house a haven for both the hungry and those averse to cold. Nestled along the once-polluted banks of the Charles, the House also has some of the best river views on campus.
On the flip side, it takes at least 10 minutes to make it to the Science Center, possibly longer depending on the weather. Making matters worse is Lowell's tantalizing but exclusive back gate, and its restriction means another minute and a half on your way to classes. So while Winthrop's location is not the best, it's also not the worst.
Quirks: Strangely, despite the fact that tunnels connect Gore and Standish Halls, they are only open sporadically and infrequently, so Winthropians may or may not have to battle cold to get around the House on any given day. The House has problems with its underground world in general—the basement-level dining hall has been known to flood from time to time.
Winthrop might enjoy dining hall exclusivity, but it's more open in other ways. Neighbors Lowell and Eliot restrict their back gates to residents only, but Winthrop's back gate is open to anyone (when it's open at all, that is), making it a nice but underutilized path for house residents and other Harvard students alike coming back from Allston.
Rating: Despite excellent house spirit, it looks like flying under the radar has its issues. This year, Winthrop House is rated eleventh out of 12.
Our rankings so far: