Adams House's gate.

Adams House

Adams House's gate. By Megan M. Ross
Adams House is perhaps the bougiest house. But there are some very positive aspects about the house that overshadow its typical Harvard vibe.
By Lydia L. Cawley

If you’re sorted into Adams House, you will be living in the closest house to Harvard Yard, meaning you’ll be the envy of your classmates. Wake up at 9 a.m. for a 9:07 class, take a dump in FDR’s very own toilet (in B-17), and study in gilded rooms? Yes, Adams residents truly win the Housing Lottery.

By Megan M. Ross

All About Housing

A sophomore bedroom in Claverly Hall.
A sophomore bedroom in Claverly Hall. By Gladys M Kisela

Adams Housing is “more a village than a house,” according to HoCo chair Ryan Ward ‘18. Housing is split between five different buildings: Randolph Hall, Westmorley Court, Russell Hall, Claverly Hall, and Apthorp House (the Faculty Dean's’ residence). All the common spaces are concentrated around the dining hall, library, and common rooms in Russell Hall, which provide a focal point for social events. An underground tunnel system connects the buildings, decorated with murals which hearken back to the House’s artsy character pre-randomization. The interior of Adams is outstanding—straight out of the gilded age, back when the wealthiest Harvard students paid high rents for beautiful hardwood floors and paneling, Moorish ceilings, (real) gold accents, and stately study spaces.

Almost all sophomores end up living in Claverly Hall in doubles and triples with relatively large common rooms. Claverley features a grand, ornate central staircase and horizontal halls, which, along with the concentration of familiar sophomore faces in one building, creates a close-knit community. Note: Claverley is the one building not joined via the tunnel systems, so sophomores may have to brave the winter weather.

A sophomore common room in Claverly Hall.
A sophomore common room in Claverly Hall. By Gladys M Kisela

As Ward puts it, there is “no such thing as a bad room in Adams,” and a select few may even luck into arguably the coolest crib on campus: Adams Senior House. The three story building houses a lottery-winning quad and is known as an optimal party space. For other seniors, A entryway boasts quints with common rooms and an “unnecessary amount of space.” However the newly-added K Space and Molotov Rooms allow any Adamsian to rent out a big party space on Friday and Saturday nights, regardless of club or social organization affiliation. Just dropping the name ‘Molotov Room,’ immediately boosts your kegger into sounding like a sophisticated, alluring, Bonds-esque soiree.


According to Adams House residents, the house has a bustling community that is very welcoming to people from all backgrounds, something the Faculty Deans John G. “Sean” Palfrey ’67 and Judith S. Palfrey ’67 work with students and staff to ensure.

This hallmark of inclusivity traces back throughout Adams’ history and is represented in events like the Halloween Drag Night, at which Adams affiliates (including the Palfreys and some dining hall workers) lipsync, dance, and perform wild skits, ending the evening with a rousing sing-along to “We are Family.” The Pool Theater, now a phenomenal performance space, was also known as an open space for BGLTQ students (and for its clothes-optional late night rendezvous—making it an appropriate location for the recent Rocky Horror Picture Show performance).

The dining hall in Adams House.
The dining hall in Adams House. By Megan M. Ross

Another historical feature unique to Adams is the FDR suite, which has been renovated to look as it looked when the former President and Adams House resident lived there. Now it’s home to frequent “fireside chats,” which bring in world leaders and experts as speakers.

Every Thursday night, Adams hosts Carpe Noctem, the Adams equivalent to Stein Clubs. At this event, HoCo members serve pizza and drinks. Freshmen assigned to Adams can expect to gain “another set of grandparents and pediatricians,” in the Palfreys, according to Ward. They host warm teas and Sunday night study gatherings in Apthorp house, complete with baked goods and cocoa. Above all, Ward says “Adams House is truly a home because of them.” And, if you had any doubt about the Palfrey’s enthusiasm about their house, just check out Sean Palfrey’s carefully-curated list of “100 Things to Do in Adams House.”

Your Questions, Answered

Still not completely sold on Adams House? Ward hit on some of the frequently asked questions freshmen have about the house:

What is one thing you want freshmen to know about your house?

RW: While yes, location is a big plus, it’s not the only attribute freshmen should be excited about. Yes, Adams is very close to the yard, but the benefits do not stop there. Between the incredibly warm and welcoming staff and faculty deans, beautiful rooms, and gatherings like carpe noctem, if you get Adams you should truly feel like you’ve won the lottery.

The Adams House Gold Room.
The Adams House Gold Room. By Megan M. Ross

If you had to describe Adams in three words, what would they be?

RW: Historic, luxurious, home.

If you had to liken your house to a harvard square eatery, which would it be and why?

RW: Well what’s the bougiest eatery? I’d say Henrietta’s Table—warm, welcoming, and friendly but at the same time bougie and extravagant.

The exterior of Adams House.
The exterior of Adams House. By Megan M. Ross
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