Adams House

Adams House Flyby Image
Keren E. Rohe

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.

Nestled snugly between Harvard Square shops and restaurants, Adams House, incorporated in 1931, is the oldest of the Harvard Houses and also the closest House to the Yard. Most of the buildings of Adams House were built as Gold Coast dormitories at the turn of the century to provide rich Harvard undergraduates with a luxurious alternative to the antiquated Yard dorms. In previous years, Adams has dominated the House rankings due to its superb location and beauty.

House Spirit: Unlike other Houses, Adams doesn't display their House spirit blatantly, preferring to keep their House pride on the inside—quiet but strong. Adams House builds a sense of community through notable events such as Drag Night and Carpe Noctem. Residents fondly wrote about the "warmth of community" and tradition provided by the regular Apthorp Teas at the House Masters' residence. While some residents applauded the tightly knit community, others found it lacking. A handful of Adamsians were merely lukewarm about House spirit. A resident referred to "lack of IM attendance" as evidence of low House spirit. Another commenter recognized Adams could do better. "Not the best House community, but very close." This year, Adams was tenth out of 12 in House spirit.

Housing Quality: Residents raved about the housing, claiming that it's possible to have "huge rooms even sophomore year" and "living is legendary by senior year." Rooms in Adams tend to be spacious and refined, and the wood molding and dark-wood fireplaces keep residents from feeling like they live in a concrete box (too soon?). Adams may have nice housing, but be prepared for uninvited visitors. Residents have complained that it suffers from invasion by the bane of all River Houses: cockroaches and mice. (Although others add that they have never spotted either.) Regardless, Adams is still prime real estate. As one commenter put it, "When it rains, it takes a whole minute to get to class." All in all, Adams came in at number nine.

Dining Hall: The dining hall was consistently cited by commenters as the worst part of Adams House, not because it's not a beautiful d-hall, but because others are aware of that fact, too. At just a hop skip away from the Yard, Adams is a popular choice for a lunch break between classes. And that's the problem. Good luck finding a seat because due to its central location, Adams is typically overcrowded. Adams residents are notoriously disgruntled when, as one resident says, "randos eat in our dhall." Despite strict dining restrictions, non-Adams residents still manage to slip in during peak hours. On top of the "busy and hectic" environment, the food isn't the best and the bulky wooden chairs can be a nuisance. Adams fizzled in the dining hall rankings, landing twelfth out of 12.

Facilities: Adams is known for its old world Harvard aesthetic appeal, proudly reflected by its elegant architecture and gold-leafed walls. It boasts of a beautiful—albeit dimly lit—library and cozy study nooks that offer quiet places to work in solitude or with a small group. Its underground tunnels are covered in creative murals hand painted by past Adams students, and the Upper and Lower Common Rooms are ideal places to host meetings or study groups. Overall, Adams' common spaces are both charming and historic.

Rating: Proximity to the Yard and a loving House staff seem to have trumped the House's failings. Residents have a deep affection for their House Masters, Resident Dean, and tutors, who "make Adams house a really great place to be!!!" As one Adams resident wrote, "I didn't feel at home at Harvard until I moved here." In terms of Adams, it is clear that overall reputation caused poll participants to place it on the high end; in regards to specific factors, Adams was relatively lukewarm. But as the popular saying goes, reputation is everything, and in the end Adams House ranked fourth out of 12.

Our rankings so far:

4. Adams

5. Lowell

6. Pforzheimer

7. Leverett

8. Currier

9. Mather

10. Winthrop

11. Cabot

12. Dunster

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