Eliot House

By Aridenne A. Dews
Eliot House is one of the most quintessential Harvard houses. Flyby took a trip to this river house to get a better idea of what it's like living there.
By Lourdes Kaufman

Eliot House. If you hear folks chanting “E-L-I-O-T, you just won the lottery!” you’re most likely lost amid a sea of Eliot House residents on Housing Day. Situated along the Charles River, Eliot House is one of the most quintessential Harvard houses, boasting a beautiful courtyard and great river views. If you get sorted in Eliot House, you’re bound to experience a lively house committee—even if the house is a little over the top sometimes.

By Megan M. Ross

All About Housing

A sophomore bedroom in Eliot
A sophomore bedroom in Eliot By Aridenne A. Dews

Eliot House is home to two pretty sweet senior party suites: The Cockpit and Ground Zero, but what can incoming sophomores expect? The typical layout of a sophomore room is n-1, meaning you’ll likely be living in a suite with one less room than the number of residents. Suite choices depend on what is left over after the upperclassmen choose their rooms. Generally speaking, sophomores live in doubles or quads.

A sophomore common room in Eliot House
A sophomore common room in Eliot House By Aridenne A. Dews


Eliot is pretty big on community. You’ll be reminded several times in a conversation with an Eliot House resident that they “won the lottery” by being sorted into the house. From the moment you enter the house, you are a part of the “big and little” sibling program, which helps freshmen get advice from upperclassmen about both academic and non-academic issues. On top of that, Eliot boasts one of the best grilles on campus, the “Inferno Grille,” where a large array of grilled-cheese menu items await.

The "Inferno" Grille in Eliot House
The "Inferno" Grille in Eliot House By Aridenne A. Dews

In the spirit of excess, Eliot hosts three formals throughout the year: Soiree in the fall, Formal in the winter, and the infamous Fête in the spring. On top of that, the house holds a charity auction every year where it sells goods and services from the residents in support of a cause.

We chatted with one of Eliot’s House Committee chairs, Gemma Collins '18, to learn more about the living in Eliot:

Why did you decide to run for HoCo?

GC: I think that Eliot has a great community and house spirit. There are so many ways for students to get involved despite Eliot being one of the largest houses. The Faculty Deans are very open to new ideas from students.

Where are the best spots to chill in the house?

GC: “I would say the dining hall. There are a lot of small tables, big tables—it’s good place to hang out.”

The dining hall in Eliot.
The dining hall in Eliot. By Aridenne A. Dews

What type of steins do you throw, and what are the best events during the year?

GC: There are weekly study breaks for the whole house. They are typically pretty low-key, and usually focused around a certain activity. Like, there’s a tunnel painting stein and other big ones around big events. There are watch parties for the Super Bowl and sometimes karaoke. Sometimes they don’t have a theme—it’s just good food and good company.

How does Eliot do in IMs?

GC: Eliot has the most enthusiastic IM captains! They send out really fun emails to get people pumped. Eliot is super competitive, and IM crew is the biggest strength; we have the most IM crew titles for sure.

Your Questions, Answered

Still not completely sold on the Eliot House? Collins answered some of the frequently asked questions freshmen have who are sorted into Eliot:

If you had to describe your house in 3 words what would they be?

GC: Spirited, welcoming, home.

What is the biggest misconception about your house?

GC: That we’re the “elitist” house, because in the house before housing [randomization], it was known as the rich kid’s house.

What unique events does Eliot host?

GC: The Faculty Deans have open houses. For instance, they have a cookie extravaganza, where students send them their favorite cookie recipes, and they bake them for the students. Also, there’s a charity auction, where people in the house give goods and services and people bid on it. That usually raises about $5,000 for a charity each year. It’s such a great community building event–seeing everyone outbid each other. Also, there are lots of fancy dinners, like holiday dinners.

Talk about your housemasters/tutors. Are you close with them?

GC: Yes, house tutors are amazing. It reminds you that Harvard isn’t just a place for 19 and 20 year olds. There are adults who have real jobs, and grad students are here too. There are children who live in Eliot. It’s kind of like a big family.

If your house were a fruit, which fruit would it be?

GC: Berries, because HUDS never serves berries, and we are a fun surprise.

Eliot House residents studying at the library
Eliot House residents studying at the library By Tarik Adnan Moon

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