As part of our Housing Market series, we'll be posting reviews and rankings for each of Harvard's 12 residential Houses over the next few days. Click here to read more about the series.
Tucked in a quiet corner between Winthrop and Kirkland, Eliot House might at first glance seem small (or perhaps just an extension of the Houses that flank it). Do not be mislead—Eliot offers a wealth of facilities, an exclusive spring formal, and prime real estate on the banks of the Charles River.
Dining Hall: The Eliot House dining experience is pleasant. Though some of those not lucky enough to live in Eliot might gripe about the dark wood-paneled interior, a wall of large windows lets the sunlight stream in quite nicely. During Sunday brunch students improve the ambiance by accompanying hot breakfast with live piano music. On the downside, the drink machines are located in the servery, and once the doors close, the drinks stop flowing. The dining hall staff are notoriously friendly (although non-Eliot residents should take note that they do enforce dining hall restrictions). Come good weather the food often moves outdoors, with courtyard barbeques throughout the fall and spring.
Facilities: Eliot offers its residents more than just a place to sleep and eat HUHDS food. With a wide range of easily accessible facilities, a favorite of the ever-hungry college student is perhaps Eliot's grille, also known as "The Inferno." The grille offers a delicious assortment of munchies, ranging from hamburgers and mozzarella sticks to milkshakes. The space is also well stocked with couches and a foosball table, making it a great place to hang out with friends. After all that fried food you might want to hit the gym, and while the MAC isn't that far, during the winter it can seem like quite the hike. Fortunately, the House gym is pretty well stocked.
For those looking for a creative outlet, Eliot House has its very own woodshop with weekly seminars, accessible to all who pass the safety test. The darkroom can be used for a yearly fee and students are welcome to use the dance studio and art studio freely as well. If you're more of a film buff there’s also the "Golden Arm," a mini movie theater space available for screenings.
Rooms: Like most of the older river Houses, Eliot rooms can be a bit of a toss-up. Although the rooms aren't the best, Eliot does have decent party spaces, including the Octagon for sophomores, and the main party suite, "Ground Zero." The senior suites are also spacious and often have river views.
House spirit: Eliot seems to have a fairly tight community—tight enough, that is, to feel comfortable eating in their underwear together. For added House spirit hype, their stein clubs often have promotional videos. Keep in mind however that Eliot has just welcomed new House Masters, Natural Sciences Professor Douglas A. Melton and educational consultant Gail O'Keefe. While they are no doubt up to the job, they have big shoes to fill and will be experiencing a steep learning curve alongside all of the House’s new residents.
Location: While Eliot is not the closest of the River Houses, it's still on the river. As an added perk, residents also enjoy access to the back gate on the corner of JFK Street and Memorial Drive (athletes rejoice!) but only until 7:30 p.m.
Quirks: Eliot has a few interesting traditions, one of which is the appearance of town criers at mealtime. Criers make various announcements in the dining hall, ending their speeches with the House toast, "Floreat Domus de Eliot." You should also try and spot the Eliot elephant hidden in the House architecture in four different places.
Rating: The Eliot House experience is generally a pleasant onem and Eliot is certainly a top House. However, with its House community in transition this year, Eliot is ranked fourth out of 12.
Our rankings so far: