Dunster House

By Caleb D. Schwartz
Reliable hot water goes a long way when it comes to Harvard housing. Indeed, Dunster's newly-renovated status is a perk, but it still has a long history.
By Rocket Claman

Looking for modern housing? Reliable hot water? History? Or to see a freshly-butchered goat roast on an open fire? That’s a bit specific. But Dunster is the House for you.

By Lydia L. Cawley

All About Housing

Dunster is newly renovated, with a beautiful dining hall, a clean, modern, almost hotel-like interior, and a great view of the Charles River. Sophomores placed in Dunster will end up living in hallway doubles, quads with two doubles, or hallway singles. Most of Dunster’s housing comes with hall bathrooms, although there are a few suites with their own bathrooms.

The eight-person suite on the fourth floor often throws parties for the whole House. There are two seven-person suites that have great views of the river, and often host parties as well.


We interviewed Mitchell P. Johns ’19, one of the Dunster HoCo co-chairs, about what makes Dunster (in his opinion) the best House.

Johns joined HoCo his sophomore fall, saying that “coming from freshman year I was excited to have a tighter House community, and I definitely found that in Dunster.” He cited HoCo, intramurals, and working—or frequenting—the Dunster Grille as great ways to become more involved in the community.

As far as common spaces, there’s more than just the beloved Grille. The Dunster gym (which apparently lots of non-Dunster students use), the study rooms, and the JCR are big community-oriented spaces. He also thinks that the courtyard is “a great place to work outside and see other Dunster people.” (We hear bouncy houses appear in the courtyard a few times a year.) According to Johns, if there were a vibe to Dunster’s community, it would be something like “an outgoing and kind of try-anything vibe.”

One of the most exciting aspects of Dunster is its history. Does the name sound familiar? It should; Dunster is named after Henry Dunster, Harvard’s first president. Additionally, Dunster was one of the first Houses ever built. During the renovation process it was important to the University to keep the outside looking as it did when it was first built. According to Johns, this endeavor was successful. Not only is Dunster one of the most newly renovated Houses but it’s also one of the oldest, in terms of its rich history.

We know what you’ve been waiting for. So, what’s the deal with the goat?

Dunster hosts an annual “Goat Roast” in their courtyard. They literally roast a goat. It’s unclear why or how this tradition started, but there’s a lot of fanfare, good food, and probably bouncy houses. Johns points to it as one of his favorite Dunster memories, and says it’s a great way for newly-sorted freshmen to meet other members of the House.

Your Questions, Answered

Besides explaining the "Goat Roast" ordeal, Johns clued us in on some other lesser-known Dunster details:

Does Dunster have any pets?

MJ: My tutor has a cat…We have a lot of kids! It feels more familial and it’s fun to have kids around.

Any fun facts?

MJ: I think the [Dunster] tower is the most photographed spot in Cambridge.

Closing thoughts?

MJ: I think we have the most gorgeous dining hall in the school, and we have a really great community, and we’ll be really excited for whatever freshmen come our way in March.

Read our overviews of the other Houses here.

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