Old Quincy: A Test Project

What the plans for Old Quincy reveal about House renewal


Although Smith says that the Neo-Georgian Houses—Adams, Cabot, Dunster, Eliot, Kirkland, Winthrop, and portions of Leverett and Quincy—were always to be the first priorities of House renewal, House Masters say that the financial crisis may have affected the order in which Harvard renovates the Houses.

According to House Masters, an unprecedented 27.3 percent loss in the University’s endowment and the accompanying FAS budget cuts may have caused Harvard to focus on more small-scale projects like Old Quincy.

Originally the College closely examined larger Houses like Lowell and Dunster, the oldest of Harvard’s 12 residential Houses, according to Lowell House Master Diana L. Eck.

House Masters say that they think Old Leverett, similar in structure to Old Quincy, will likely be the next House on tap to be renewed.


Old Quincy was a part of Leverett House until the 1960s, when the construction of Leverett Towers and the rest of Quincy House resulted in the two being split into separate Houses.

When asked if Old Leverett would be renovated next, Smith declined to answer the question.

“What wonderful speculation,” he said with a smile. “Sounds good to me.” Smith added that the final decision about which House to renovate next had not yet been made.


House Masters say that the impending renovations are meant to do much more than just renew the physical components of the Houses. They are meant to reinvigorate House life as well.

“When you think about House renewal, it also means thinking about the renewal of the community. What is it that is really right about the House? What works and is good for students? What draws them into a community and enables them to express themselves and allows them to flourish?” Eck says.

Christakis—who calls House life “a key part of the student experience”—says he is proud of the improvements he has made to House community with the limited resources available to Houses prior to renovations

Walking through the hallways of his House, he spoke of House-specific innovations like the creation of a “Happy Room” and the Pforums, a speech series that brings important speakers directly to the home of undergraduates.

“When we talk about House renewal we’re not just talking about the physical plan,” Christakis says. “We’re thinking about how to position resources: money, people, advising resources, all these things–in the Houses so that the students have a very stimulating experience.”

Quincy House Master Lee Gehrke says that although House renewal should result in every student having the same standard of housing quality, the project is not meant to destroy the “individual character” of the Houses.

“The goal is to make it better,” Adams House Master John G. “Sean” Palfrey ’67 says. “Yet not take away those things that current occupants and old alumni mention.”

—Staff writer Monika L.S. Robbins can be reached at

—Staff writer Hana N. Rouse can be reached at


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