Kirkland House


As part of our Housing Market series, we've been posting reviews and rankings for each of Harvard's 12 residential Houses. Click here to read more about our project.

So, you want to be a member of the most elite House on campus? If you thought getting into Harvard was hard, clearly you've never tried to become a member of Kirkland House. Although not entirely abandoning DeWolfe housing, Kirkland will only keep one of its two current floors. This means that it will now accept significantly fewer freshmen into its storied halls.

Dining Hall: Kirkland is lucky to have card swiper (and bouncer) Tommy to guard the entrance to its small-ish dining hall, which has recently become more crowded with refugees from highly-restricted Adams, Lowell, and Leverett (negative points to you, other Houses!). But Kirkland's kitchen is one of the largest and easiest to navigate, with entrees and salad bar set off in different rooms. The House's grill chefs, once known for their superb breakfast omelets (rest in peace, hot breakfast), still serve up great greasy items for the other two meals of the day. Smaller tables allow for more intimate gatherings in the bright, naturally-lit space, though the lack of napkin dispensers on tables—the House Masters think they're unsightly—annoys some messy eaters.

Score: +100 for the kitchen, +100 for "intimacy", -20 for no napkins

Common Spaces: Kirkland's Junior Common Room is classic Harvard, with carved wood paneling, red drapery, and a trophy case to display fair Kirkland's gleaming triumphs. It's a comfortable place to relax when there's not an event in progress, though getting someone to stop playing one of the two (yes, TWO) grand pianos can be daunting. Hicks House, the Kirkland-only library, has many study rooms in an atmosphere that's more like your grandma's musty attic than Widener. It's a cozy and popular spot to finish those p-sets. Though it no longer serves food, the Grille is a comfortable venue for stein clubs and TV-watching on the big screen. In warm weather, even the courtyard becomes a common space, with Kirkland's famous hammocks.

Score: +100 for JCR, +200 for Hicks House, +20 for hammocks, -50 for piano cacophony

Rooms: With fewer residents spread out along Mill Street in DeWolfe next year, most students will be in Smith Halls (Kirkland's main building) or "The Annex."  In addition to no cable or air conditioning, that means a lot of doubles for sophomores and even juniors. Those who are lucky enough to snare singles may have to deal with walk-throughs or lack of common rooms. n+1 housing will almost certainly be reserved for seniors.  So, all right, there's a small price to pay for being in the best House on campus.

Score: -200 for lack of singles

House Spirit: Holiday Dinner, IncestFest, Secret Santa, Minutemen in the courtyard—the list of Kirkland's spirited gatherings goes on and on. From the Kirkland ode to a top-secret "debaucherous" dance to the House Masters' dogs, everything about Kirkland brings out the House's great spirit.

Score: +1000 for all around awesomeness

Location: Kirkland's location is about as good as can be hoped for. It's just three blocks from the Yard, but more importantly, it's also right next to Pinocchio’s Pizza and The Garage for those inevitable late-night cravings. When you wake up and feel you need to work off those calories, the Malkin Athletics Center is just across the street. Even the view out the House's windows is all trees (and Kennedy School), though pompous Eliot-ites might point out that there's no river view.

Score: +100 for Noch's, -10 for John F. Kennedy Street traffic noises

Quirks: Some traditions never die. Every Sunday night, Kirklanders still gather for milk and warm cookies at Boat Club, the most delicious—we think—House tradition at Harvard. It may also boast the only combination ping-pong-pool-gym room at Harvard in the basement of F-entryway.

Finally, in addition to all its accolades, Kirkland does have the dubious distinction of being the only House on campus in which someone has been shot (at least within the past year). Not to worry, statistically that makes the chances of it happening again even slimmer.

Score: +100 for Boat Club, -1000 for shooting

Committee Rank: 3 out of 12. At least you would get a medal (bronze).

Our Rankings So Far:

3. Kirkland

4. Pfoho

5. Lowell

5. Mather

7. Quincy

8. Currier

9. Leverett

10. Dunster

11. Cabot

12. Winthrop

Photo by Keren E. Rohe '13, Crimson Staff Photographer.

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