'Thursdayfests' Shape Spirit

TOURING THE HOUSES Part of a continuing series on House life.

The high school house, 90210. "Thursdayfests." Gossip running rampant through the 10 entries of Gore and Standish Halls. A front courtyard whose main fixture is a tire swing.

These are the images which continue to pervade many undergraduates' conceptions of Winthrop House. It's known as a river haven for the student who longs for the days of hall-passes and the cacophony of slamming locker doors.

John Winthrop House, as it is officially known, consciously fosters its playful image, sponsoring events like last week's "02138 Dance" to attract first-year students.

But residents and tutors say that behind its callow facade, Winthrop maintains a careful balance between frivolity and academic and intellectual pursuits.

"We're not pretentious, but we have some incredibly talented kids living here," says House Co-Master Martha Davis. "For instance, in musical areas we have some great performers among us, and those who aren't performing are often busy supporting those who are."


Winthrop residents are quick to point out their multi-dimensionality. They take pride in their diversity, which frequently results in interesting and unusual interactions.

"We try to provide house activities as a way for people doing all sorts of different things during the day to get together at night and be communally inane," says Eric R. Columbus '93, former house committee president.

These activities include the ever-popular "Thursdayfests," weekly parties which draw crowds of students eager to bond with their housemates and escape the mundanities of "grown-up" life.

"It's a really friendly house, and everybody really known everybody else," says Allison S. Bryant '94, treasurer of the house committee. "Part of how we got to know people when

I moved in as a sophomore was through the Thursdayfest party held every week in a different person's room."

Bryant notes that the resulting "cohesiveness" among Winthrop residents may now represent the house's defining characteristic.

"That letting loose and getting to know everybody has been helped by the Thursdayfests," she says. "In the beginning of this year they sort of fell off, but the new house committee is actively trying to resurrect these social gatherings."

While Thursdayfest and other events exclusive to Winthrop House may have promoted house unity, they have also contributed to Winthrop's "juvenile" reputation.

"We do things like the Thropstock weekend, where we jello-wrestle," says Richard E. Desmond '93. "Winthrop has been called, and not inaccurately, the high school house, which could in part be accounted for by our slightly juvenile tastes in music and television."

Winthrop's easygoing attitude is part of its appeal, says Columbus. "I have friends at Adams House who come down to spend some stress-free time escaping the impressive, intellectual attitudes of Plympton Street."

"We're more than happy to oblige, too," he adds.