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A Foreword to Freshmen
In this section, the CRIMSON, with the freshman class in mind, has assembled short sketches of the College's nine Houses and of Claverly Hall. Each sketch is written by an editor devoted to the House he depicts, yet hopefully not blind to its flaws.
Reading through them you will probably be as conscious of the similarities among the Houses as to the differences between them. This is as it should be. For despite a healthy variety of personalities and facilities, all Houses are of the same basic mold. In no House is dissatisfaction rampant; happiness, although general, undestandably is not universal. And, to repeat a common-place which has been drummed into you elsewhere, all types of students are found in all of the Houses.
Further, the most important elements of a satisfying House life will not be discussed in this short guide. They are a man's room-mates and friends, the relations he develops with Faculty in the House, and the accommodation he makes to the academic, social and extracurricular demands of the College. These adjustments are personal; with very few exceptions, they can be made no better in one House than in any other.
If the Houses are basically similar, then why bother writing separately about them at all? In the first place, the University wants you to have a preference, and does take it seriously into account when assigning you to a House. Although the number of men getting into their first-choice House has declined steeply since the construction of Quincy and the Leverett Towers, last year 55.7 percent of of the Class of 1965 did go where they most wanted to go. Another 12 percent were assigned to their second choice House, and 11.6 per cent received their third choice. Thus, 80 per cent entered a House of their own choosing. And it is probably best to make this choice on the basis of some knowledge, although an outsider's knowledge is necessarily limited.
Furthermore, this guide is to some extent a report on what each House has done and in what ways it has changed during the past year. This does differ among the Houses and should be of interests to freshmen trying to select a House intelligently.
Finally, a word of caution. Each article is written by one House member only. Although they have been urged to be candid and objective, their views are impressionistic.
Size of House: 341
Vacancies for Freshmen: 113
Rooms available: mostly doubles and triples; a few adjoining suites
There are four parts to Adams House; three of them are attractive, comfortable--relics of an era when the function of a building was still good living. Two of the three are Westmorly Court and Randolph Hall, the former quietly Tudor, the latter faintly Gothic, both of them built around the turn of the century to provide elegant Gold Coast young gentlemen with elegant young apartments (F. D. Roosevelt '04 lived appropriately in Westmorly South, now B-entry). The third part is Apthorp House, Master Reuben A. Brower's official home, where he entertains and serves tea to students, guests, and girls from Radcliffe on Friday afternoons.
The fourth part, which went up when Adams House was formed in 1932, is called only C-entry and houses all the official components of the House: library, dining hall, kitchen, House offices, superintendent's office, common rooms; as well as a number of small student suites and an entrance hall, known, grandly, as the Gold Room. C-entry makes Adams House respectable; most people, Master Brower among them, avoid it.
The Master, in fact, prefers to leave people and events to their own devices, and his attitude offsets the House's respectability and gives it a certain raffish attractiveness. Rules are rarely enforced; most House activities must struggle to stay alive (the bulletin board lists of sports teams are always undersubscribed; the Adams House Journal of the Social Sciences, the only House publication of any regularity, congratulates itself if it publishes twice in one year); and the students themselves refuse to shamble with the herd, affect oddities of dress, and show as much interest in Frederic A. Pennington as they do in John Sparrow, Warden of All Soul's.
Two House activities that have always managed to flourish, perhaps because of their noncompulsive nature, are the Drama Society and the Music Society: the first is notable for the gusto of its annual Shakespeare productions, the second for the variety and scope (and general excellence) of its recitals and chamber concerts.
The food, however, does not flourish, hopeful legend to the contrary notwithstanding. Adams House has its own kitchen, and its own menu, but the dishes served are undistinguishable and, generally speaking, undistinguishable from Central Kitchen fare. The dining room, sun-lit for the first two meals of the day, is gloomy and brooding after dark--but then it is a part of C-entry.
Adams House also boasts, in modest terms, its own swimming pool (it is a very small pool) and its own pool table (it is deep under-ground.) The swimming pool is in Westmorly; the pool table in Randolph. Naturally.
Size of House: 322, including 103 places for residents
Dudley House, to many students at Harvard, exists solely as a gathering and eating place for commuters, whose relation with the rest of the undergraduate body is peripheral. In truth, at least one-third of its members are fully residential, and the House has all the facilities offered by the other eight.
There are no picture windows, built-in iceboxes, or river banks at Dudley, but the House has its own advantages for both the University and the student. First of all, Dudley is more than a common room for commuters who arrive by MTA. Although it differs from the other Houses in the provision which it makes for non-residents, it is no less a part of the House system for that reason.
For students hard-pressed by mounting expenses (watch for a possible tuition rise in 1964-65) Dudley offers 103 low-cost residencies. Sixteen men live on the fifth floor of Apley Court (16 Holyoke St.) at $185 per term; 44 men save $450 to $500 a year living in the co-operatives at 3 Sacramento St. and 1705 Mass. Ave.; and 43 men live in four entries of Wigglesworth Hall (H-K) and are relieved from paying the full board charge as are the residents of Apley Court.
Preference in assigning students to Wigglesworth is given to local commuters with financial need, local commuters, students with financial need, and others. Less than 50 per cent of the men living in the co-operatives are local students.
Dudley Hall and Apley Court are scheduled for demolition by July 1964, to make way for the expanding Holyoke Center. University officials have indicated that Lehman Hall may be remodeled to serve as the new center for House activities. Lehman Hall may also become the location for a student union, making the House center itself more attractive.
Dudley men are proud of their House, and have a House spirit and friendliness unmatched at some of the preppier or isolationist Houses. Despite the time Dudley men spend commuting or holding down part-time jobs, participation in athletics and extra-curricular activities is high.
Commuters say they know more members of Dudley than resident students do in their Houses; and the House Committee is especially energetic and has a close relation with House members. Providing much of the inspiration for the many student activities at Dudley is Delmar Leighton '19, its Master.
Leighton has persisted in maintaining the special role of Dudley in Harvard's housing system, and points to both the intangible values of Dudley's flexibility and variety and the very tangible savings in cost it passes on to students through low-cost rooms and the co-operatives. This year Leighton, who is retiring after 40 years as a Harvard administrator, will be succeeded by Thomas E. Crooks '49, dean of special students and director of the summer school.
Crooks will undoubtedly continue the traditions of Dudley, and freshmen should not pass by the House without taking a look at its facilities and advantages.
Size of House: about 345
Vacancies for freshmen: about 135
Rooms available: Doubles and triples, several of which adjoin
Times have changed at Dunster House--Gone is the Era of Unrestrained Conviviality and Unabashed Enthusiasm. A different wind blows through the picturesque Dunster courtyard, a cooler and quieter wind.
But this change does not necessarily make the House unattractive. Like Harvard itself, Dunster has become more restrained, less gung-ho, and more serious than a few years ago. Although you won't find many peo- ple wearing "I'm gung-ho Dunster" tags anymore, there aren't many recluses in the House either. Dunster is still perhaps, the friendliest House in the College, and its warmth and openness are not at all obnoxious.
While offering one of the largest and widest activities program of any House, Dunster vigorously maintains its tradition of "availability without compulsion." No one will come to your room, smash down your door to drag you to a House seminar or athletic event, but if you want to go you are always welcome.
Central planner and coordinator of the diversified activity program is the Dunster House Committee. While famed for vigorously and unexpectedly prosecuting all-College targets such as the old student council and the HSA, the Committee spends most of its time quietly providing a diversified program for the House. Dunster's Spring and Christmas week-ends are usually the best in the College and are free to House members. Dunster Cabaret's have been widely imitated.
Tutors in Dunster have a tradition of actively assisting intellectual programs in the House, although the initiative is usually left to the students. History, economics, Chinese, Spanish, and French tables meet regularly, offering wine and East House girls as added attractions. A play reading group holds frequent sessions, and in the handsome wood-paneled House library enliven many Sunday afternoons. Two House publications the Dunster Drama Review and the Fergus, a literary magazine appear sporadically throughout the year.
Dunster athletic teams are usually among the best in the League and draw large numbers of House members into competition.
One of the finest features of the House is the Junior Common room.
It may sound corny, but on a winter night with a Cambridge snow-storm isolating the House from the outside world, the roaring flames in the fireplace and the warmth of the conversation with tutors and students provide lasting memories.
Another strong point is the physical plant in general. Although the rooms are sometimes tagged as closets, Dunster has the advantages of a single building, its own kitchen (which offers victuals a large cut above Central Kitchen standards), an extremely well-stocked library, squash courts, music rooms, a dark rooms, a workshop, and abundant storage space. While some Freshmen may object to Dunster's location, seniors in the House often feel the isolation and separateness are positive advantages. There is no question about the delights of "Dunster Beach." The House fronts the Charles River, and in the spring and fall the banks are filled with couples and touch football games. During Spring Reading Period there is no more pleasant way to study than camped by the river with a six pack, a girl, and, of course, a book.
But as noted at the beginning of this travellog, Dunster is changing. Although a new master and new tutors inevitably bring change, Master Pappenheimer has no firm blueprint for the House and is responsive to suggestion. The ideas of entering sophomores should be important in shaping the future of Dunster.
Size of House: about 430
Vacancies for freshmen: 125
Rooms available: mostly converted triples: some doubles and quads
Eliot House, a large Georgian polygon bordered by Boyston St. and Memorial Drive, has the best formed image of any Harvard house. Supposedly the domain of "Preppies," the House appears somewhat exclusive and detached from the rest of the University. This detachment is enhanced by its location; with the exception of Dunster, Eliot is farther away from the Yard than any other House. Built around a small courtyard which is used as an athletic field in the fall and winter, the House is composed of converted doubles intermixed with larger complexes. Master Finley has created a number of consolidated suites, usually consisting of a triple and deconverted double. In addition Eliot has one of the largest and most useful house libraries and contains its own grill.
Although the Deans have ensured that Eliot has approximately the same proportion of public and private school boys as the other houses, the House has attracted boys whose whose temperaments and tastes are usually associated with a private school background. Its members tend to take life less seriously than those in other houses and, although anxious to thrust ahead, do not like to express this anxiety too openly. They form a congenial, closely knit group and participate faithfully in house activities--this year Eliot is a leading contender for the Strauss trophy that goes to the over-all leader in the Interhouse athletic leagues. Although the average academic performance of its members is lower than in some other houses, Eliot men have won 19 Rhodes Scholarships since the Second World War and last year won two Henrys, two Knoxes, a Shaw, and a Marshall. The House boasts of many fine athletes including Scotty Harshbarger, Louis Williams, and Chris Ohiri.
The composition of the House is largely the result of the personal philosophy of its master, John H. Finley. Scholar, aristocrat, and amateur, Master Finley has sought out boys who combine excellence in specific areas with broad interests and social grace. He is among the few masters who know every boy in their houses by name. Leaving organized activities to undergraduates, Master Finley devotes most of his time to individual members of the House and his recommendations have helped many of them to get into graduate schools and to obtain jobs. An urbane after-dinner speaker, Finley annually organizes a series of house dinners to which Dean Acheson, James Reston, and McGeorge Bundy have recently come as guests. To a large degree he has earned for the House the devotion felt for it by the past and present members.
Size of House: about 360
Vacancies for freshmen: 96
Rooms available: mostly triples and doubles, a very few singles and quads.
On the surface, Kirkland House is drab. Its Georgian architecture seems to have been designed by an unconvinced Puritan, and, if anything has happened there recently, few outsiders remember hearing of it.
To insiders, however, the House is enjoyable. Its buildings, constructed before the adoption of the House plan, have an unintentional disunity, charming and never obtrusive. Hicks House, the library, provides calm privacy in the ten rooms of an eighteenth-century home, with a wide selection of books that ranks second among the Houses in size. Bryan Hall, "the Annex," is entered through a pleasantly secluded pathway. And in the basement of Smith Halls, the two buildings that form the quiet main courtyard, there are pool rooms, music rooms, washing machines, and, for those who fear fall-out, the Central Kitchen food supply.
Kirkland's staff is hardly drab. Master Charles H. Taylor, a medieval scholar, has a strong interest in intramural athletics and serves on the Faculty Committee on Athletic Sports. Ernest R. May, associate professor of History and the Kirkland House billiards champion, is senior tutor. William Alfred, lecturer in English 10 and Hum 2, eats lunch frequently in Kirkland at tables filled with undergraduates.
The tutors, many of them historians, definitely are not recluses from the graduate schools.
Among its students Kirkland House has had enough athletes to win the Straus trophy for six consecutive years and usually enough musicians to dominate College-wide groups and keep the common room pianos constantly in use. Both original student productions performed on the main stage of the Loeb this year were written by Kirkland men.
But football players, violinsts, and playwrights together form only a notable minority in a House which truly is a cross-section of Harvard.
The house committee sponsors cartoon shows and wild annual Bierstube; the music committee presents student and professional concerts; the Ford Foundation fund supports a wide variety of dinner guests and speakers; and from a variety of sources comes the boar's head ceremony and ribald play after the Christmas dinner.
In its unobtrusive way, Kirkland House surrounds its students, staff, and activities with a pleasant and stimulating atmosphere.
Size of House: about 425
Vacancies for freshmen: about 135
Rooms available: doubles and triples
In 1940, Julian Lowell Coolidge 95 retired as Master of Lowell House and was replaced by a young instructor in English history named Elliott Perkins. At the time the College wondered what changes Perkins would make in the House; and specifically, whether he would abandon what the CRIMSON called, two days before his appointment, "Lowell's traditional style of life, modeled on life at Oxbridge." In twenty-three years in the House, Perk has decisively laid such doubts to rest. And as he retires this year from the Mastership, he leaves a House whose own traditions, and whose sense of tradition, he has kept burning brightly--like the flame of the Yule log and the light of the High Table candles--against the unseasonable winds of change.
Today the College is curious about what changes Master Zeph Stewart will make; we will hazard no guesses, and advise Freshman thinking of applying to Lowell not to try either. But certain negative predictions are possible: Master Stewart will not (alas) be able to rid the House of the infernal bells, which make Sunday mornings such a horror; and he will probably fail in any attempt to improve the food, than which there is no worse (except in Eliot, Kirkland, Winthrop and Leverett).
And no doubt Lowell under the Stewarts will remain a place in which the Tutors are as interested in staving in the dining hall after meals making good talk as in scurrying back to their rooms to write another page of their dissertations. Lowell men nourish themselves on intelligent conversation. They work off the Central Kitchens' starchy fare by hard study: Lowell consistently houses a high percentage of the College's most distinguished scholars. And if a student is having difficulties, and needs help or advice, he could find no more simpatico person to talk to than Lowell's Senior Tutor, Richard Ullman '55.
If Lowell is distinguished for its members' academic and informal intellectuality, it is not lacking in the more mundane attractions offered by other Houses: it has an active drama group, an Opera Society, a struggling poetry magazine for struggling poets (Pharetra), and seven squash courts (sorry, no swimming pool). It also has two television sets.
Finally, what of Lowell's relations with the outside world? Well, Lowell men have extraordinarily easy access to many great men and women. Literally dozens of them visit the House each year, to read their poetry, or describe their last electoral campaign, or explain their ideas; guests this year have included poets Marianne Moore and Robert Lowell, Sen. Maureen Neuberger, New York's Mayor Wagner, and art collector Maxim Karolik. Almost every student in the House will have dinner with a great light such as these in the course of a year, and the food at these gatherings, thoughtfully paid for by the Ford Foundation, is heart-breakingly good.
The House Office next year will be a changed place; not only Master Perkins, but also the charming Avis DeVoto, widow of historian Bernard DeVoto, will depart in June. But one of Lowell's greatest attractions will remain, which Freshman ought to consider before choosing a House: Miss Eleanor Hess, the Senior Tutor's secretary, is surely an important part of Lowell's claim to greatness.
Size of House: about 445
Vacancies for freshmen: 157
Rooms available: mostly doubles, triples, and quads, many of which adjoin to form larger units, in both the Towers and McKiniock.
Leverett has much to offer besides the advantages of modern living at reasonable prices. If you are thinking of Leverett only because you hope to command a breathtaking view of Cambridge and Boston, forget it; you have missed the objective of House life. Leverett's living arrangements are just fringe benefits tacked onto the other advantages of the House.
The rooms in the Towers are nice, to be sure, but those in McKinlock which are spacious and offer fireplaces like other Houses, are just as attractive to some Leverett members. Incoming sophomores are distributed in both sections of Leverett, preventing the illusion of a "house divided." And the dining hall brings all members of the house together amid the luxury of tapestries and chandeliers.
You have probably heard that each House has some sort of stereotype. Leverett is proud of the fact that it is not branded; the heterogeneous nature of its members provides a varied and interesting atmosphere. Besides having a large number of leaders and participants in extra-curricular activities both intellectual and athletic, the House boasts a vigorous internal life. Leverett is currently a serious contender for the Straus Trophy (the award for excellence in intramural athletics) for the first time in many years. It also has the only House radio station (WLHR), a drama society, a French table, a winetasting society, a Sunday Night Movie series, a House newspaper, and occasional mixers and smokers sponsored by the Social Committee. Every spring, the big activity is the Art Festival.
Next year Leverett will have a new Master, Richard T. Gill '48, the present Senior Tutor, mentor of Ec. 1, and master designer of the now College-wide tutorial-for-all program. One of Gill's projects for the future is to develop an even closer relation between students, junior staff (tutors), and senior staff (House associates).
Size of House: 415
Vacancies for Freshmen: 160
Rooms available: Mostly triples and doubles, many of which adjoin. A few single spaces are available.
With the graduation of the class of 1963 in June, Quincy House will lose the generation of organizers, agitators, and manipulators that made it the political center of the College. No longer will the third floor of its new building be one of the greatest smoke-filled corridors in American politics.
At one time Quincy held the leaders of Tocsin and YAF, the Young Democrats and Young Republicans, the Liberal Union and the HCUA.
But these activitists are leaving, and Quincy, now four years of age, once more is seeking an identity.
Possibly the House will find a partial one in music; it sends more personnel to the HRO than any other House; its notable music society celebrated Mozart's birthday with dinner music and dominates this year's Arts Festival.
Quincy also received an infusion of varsity athletes last fall, but with the exception of its soccer team it remains near the bottom of the inter-House athletic leagues. And, after several years somnolescence the House Committee is flourishing, particularly its social committee which flamboyantly promotes sociability with beer blasts, mixers, and dances.
Coincidentally with the fall from prominance of Quincy's politicians came the departure of its first senior tutor, Paul E. Sigmund, Jr., who left last month to become an Associate Professor of Politics at Princeton. Sigmund's successor, Larry D. Benson, like Master John M. Bullitt '43, is a member of the English department, a fact that may hasten the House's reorientation. Further, there will soon be a heavy turnover among Quincy's large staff of resident tutors which may reduce the present over-representation of the social sciences.
Yet, some aspects of the political Quincy will remain. The Africa Table, a forum for African nationalists and Africanist professors, will continue to draw foreign students and Africa buffs from throughout the College and the 'Cliffe. The Debate Council, lodged with its trophies in Quincy's basement, will continue to be dominated by Quincy men. The East Asia Table will continue to lure scholars and politicians.
Indeed, Quincy has an extraordinary number of specialized tables, that offer good food (prepared in the House's independent kitchen) and good wine, to participants speaking Spanish, German, Hebrew, or French; discussing social relations or sciences; or surrounding House Fellows Henry Kissinger and David Riesman. The dining hall generally is lively--and warm, despite Nivola's perplexing graffito and the all-encompassing plate glass.
Upstairs, the House, as advertised, is the Quincy-Hilton. Its quads are split-level with built-in refrigerator, four ample bed rooms, and a picture windowed living room. But, halt. Only a handful of unattached sophomores enter this updated paradise. Most spend either a year in Claverly or a year or two in Mather. But this need not spell tragedy. Claverly is rhapsodically described elsewhere in this supplement, and Mather, although its rooms are smaller, differs little from Harvard's other Georgian halls.
Besides, Mather and Claverly residents use the common facilities of the Big House--its convivial grill, semi-detached library, photo dark room, music listening room, practice pianos, pool table, two recreation rooms, gymnasium, tool room, and art studio.
Size of House: about 370.
Vacancies for Freshmen: about 125
Rooms available: No singles; approximately equal numbers of doubles, triples, and quads.
At the curve of Holyoke Street, flanking Eliot and Lowell, there is Winthrop. Lacking a white tower, a solitudinous quadrangle, bushy lumps of ivy, and a Great Panoramic View of the environs a slightly threadbare Winthrop allots itself between the two halls of Gore and Standish. The House, though, has its quota of Veritas chairs. And a coat of arms. And lots of people.
The leading person of Winthrop is unquestionably Master David Owen, and his distinction is not a formality of rank. Owen welcomes the sophomores as if they were moderately important personages, and knows the name of each on sight.
Winthrop House also possesses a tutorial staff that is conspicuous for its accessibility and competency. Its tutors are seen and they are heard.
By general consent the House's baronial dining hall, famous for its intangibles, needs a bit of refurbishment. But, shabbiness aside, it's a simple place of loud voices, the physical and psychological core of the House.
Off in one partitioned corner, Winthrop's various tables meet on a regular basis. They are the House's metaacademic expression of interest in things general--informal, lively affairs usually held during the lunch hour. John Kenneth Galbraith, upon his return in September, is expected to dominate the Thursday Economics Table once again; Frank Freidel will chair the Friday History and Government Table.
Winthrop is old by comparison with most of the other Houses; both Standish and Gore were built as freshman dormitories in 1914 and converted to the present arrangement in 1931. In their day these buildings knew a President and a youthful Senator. In various subterranean shelters, one finds space for billiards, television, photography, and pingpong. The library, once a freshman dining hall, contains a famous telescope of John Winthrop (second Hollis Professor of Mathematics), has a good atmosphere for study.
Winthrop's physical simplicity (some say degeneracy)--not unlike the Yard's slightly stoic animus--may be to some upperclassmen a subtle stimulous to introspection. But the House, under the present Master, maintains its tradition of laissez faire good-fellowship. The freshman who has not looked behind the chipped plaster, has not seen Winthrop.
Quincy House, Leverett Towers, Holyoke Center--like giant fungi they have pushed their evil shapes above the once lovely surface of Cambridge. They scatter their deadly spores over all of Harvard, and those that take root threaten the existence of all the familiar buildings of the University.
Only three dormitories have completely resisted the changes overcoming Harvard: Randolph and Westmorly of Adams House, and Claverly Hall--the old Gold Coast. Of the three, only Claverly preserves the spirit of an older, happier Harvard, where one actually had to be elected to live in its stately rooms.
Claverly is admittedly not what it once was. The swimming pool and squash court are no longer used; shoes left outside one's door at night are no longer shined by morning as they were when George Santayana was a resident, and although the famous elevator is kept in good repair, the building in general has been allowed to get a bit shabby.
But, equally, assignment to Claverly is not the misfortune most freshmen imagine. In fact, many of Claverly's occupants would vigorously defend the proposition that their rooms are the most pleasant to be found in Cambridge. The rooms are certainly among the largest around, with high ceilings, paneled walls, and handsome fireplaces that can be used, not just looked at.
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