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Lowell House is perhaps best known for its beauty. Few Houses rival the visual impact of the bell tower or the picturesque calm of the courtyard. But small, walk-through rooms and the incessant unskilled ringing of the House's infamous bells detract from Lowell's otherwise positive attributes.
House Spirit: Lowellians are a close-knit bunch who take pride in their community. Stein Clubs and Lowell Teas are popular and well-attended. Lowell is not the most aggressively spirited of Harvard Houses—but between its proximity to the Yard, beautiful grounds, and an epic Housing Day video, perhaps it doesn't need to be.
Housing Quality: Lowell housing stock is perhaps the House's greatest drawback. While the architecture may appeal to fans of the classic Harvard aesthetic, rooms tend to be small. Many sophomores get to negotiate the joys of the walk-through double, and even upperclassmen tend to have living quarters tighter than those of friends in neighboring Houses. For many Lowellians, though, the location of the House makes up in spades for the size of the rooms. Why linger in a dorm room, after all, when Noch's, Felipe's, and Tasty Burger are just seconds away? This prime location comes with its own set of cons, however: noise from nearby final clubs—and, of course, the Lowell bells—is all too familiar.
Dining Hall: With its pale yellow walls and grand chandeliers, the Lowell dining hall is Harvard neo-Georgian at its sunniest—inviting and elegant in equal parts. The food itself is neither exceptional nor particularly objectionable, and the servery is cramped. Lowell has the advantage of being close enough to the Yard for a quick weekday lunch, but draws smaller crowds than the perennially over-packed Adams.
Facilities: Lowell students can study in the "grill," which doesn't actually serve food, play squash in the House courts, get a workout in the dance studio, and even practice their climbing abilities at the Harvard Bouldering Wall. There are also many common spaces, including basement classrooms and the beautifully appointed JCR.
House Masters: Professor Diana L. Eck and her wife Dorothy A. Austin, a lecturer on Psychology, are universally adored and often cited as the best thing about the House. Every Thursday, Eck and Austin open up the doors of their charming, ivy-covered residence for Lowell Teas. Students pack the ground floor, baking in the kitchen and talking in clusters in the living room. Teas are a reliable source of delicious treats and friendly conversation.
Extra: Lowell, like every Harvard House, has its share of strange and wonderful traditions and secrets. In the winter months, dozens of Lowell residents give five-minute speeches on topics of personal importance to their peers and tutors in the dining hall. The Lowell House Opera sets up shop in the dining hall every spring, to the delight and/or annoyance of residents. The House is also known for its Russian bells, which ring out tunes like "Call Me Maybe" each Sunday, and Arts First weekend brings a "pick-up" performance of Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture in the Lowell House Courtyard.
Our rankings so far: