With renovations completed only last year, Stone Hall feels worlds away from the bustle of Harvard Square—specifically it feels like a pristine home in a plush suburban enclave. The hardwood floors shine, the place conjures the serenity of your own home, and you feel like your beloved golden retriever could round the corner at any moment.
Quincy is the only accessible River House, as both Stone Hall and New Quincy are equipped with elevators, so moving will be a cinch. And housing is actually designed for needs of the modern student body, not for wealthy Harvard men of yore and their butlers, which means no more walkthroughs.
Stone Hall has two set-ups: clusters of single and double bedrooms off a common hallway, where there are shared bathrooms and furnished common rooms, and the traditional suite with bedrooms branching off of a central private common room. While the shared common spaces have flat-screen TVs, they can feel impersonal. You can’t exactly leave beer cans and your Xbox lying around, and holding parties proves difficult without a private space.
Despite its carpeted floors and cinderblocks, the split-level suites of New Quincy, which primarily consist of varying numbers of singles off of spacious common rooms, remain the preference of most juniors and seniors, and continue to be notorious party suites. Juniors traditionally occupy the third floor and seniors the sixth. All in all, the range of solid options makes for a stress-free lottery experience, according to Quincy residents.
As many freshmen already know, Quincy’s central location makes lunchtime crowds fairly routine, which can get tiresome for residents. Yet, some students see this as a sign of the House’s allure. “At the end of the day that’s why they call Quincy the ‘People’s House’,” said HoCo co-chair Chanel E. Washington ’15. “The people want to be there.”
Giant rectangular tables, like something out of a Hogwarts gone modern, run the length of the dining hall. While some residents said this made for a positive community experience, others said they found it uncomfortable when forced to sit in close proximity to the stranger next to them. Smaller tables line the windowed flanks of the dining hall for a more intimate dining experience.
The dining hall does lack the grandeur of other Houses’. Instead of chandeliers, Quincy has a contemporary eyesore—um, we mean artwork. But residents don’t seem to mind. “It’s a conversation piece,” Washington remarked.
Penguins care deeply about their security guards, HUDS staff, and maintenance workers, with whom many are on a first-name basis. Each December, they collect donations to provide staff members with holiday bonuses, raising approximately $3500 last year. According to residents, staff often opts to order House swag, donning Quincy sweatshirts alongside students.
With the newly completed Stone Hall equipped for the 21st century, Quincy comes with many of the amenities you’d expect from a modern House, such as built-in outlets on tables for studying, and those you may not need but enjoy nonetheless, like a plexiglass wall with images of penguins. “They just went out of control and put in everything you could ever want,” Matthew S. Ackerman ’14 said. Students rave about the details of the renovated building, from ceiling fans in every room to cozy study nooks built into the eaves of the building. “It instilled a lot of House pride to be the first renovated House,” Massaroni said.
House Masters Lee and Deborah J. Gehrke are renowned for their Open Houses in their penthouse residence in New Quincy, which was once named one of Boston’s Top Five Apartments by Boston Magazine. The Masters’ staff of “elves,” who are actually College alumni who have returned to Harvard, prepare delicious treats for attendees. “They’re some separate class of humans,” Massaroni remarked. The Masters host special events for seniors as well, like “Deb’s Paint Bar,” when seniors are invited unwind and get artistic through drinking and painting.
Open late on weekdays and weekends, Quincy Grille attracts both revelers returning from a night out and kids pulling all-nighters. Imagine Tasty Burger, but with BoardPlus and feet away from your bedroom. It also doubles as a study space when closed during the day, but it can be hard to stay out of the line of fire in the front foyer with the popular ping pong table.
Quincy also boasts a fully functional ceramics studio and House gym. The Qube library, a feat of modern architecture which appears to hover over Quincy’s courtyard, is an airy space for studying.
Quincy residents bond and show their spirit during events like field day, which takes place at the beginning of each fall semester, and swing dance, when House staff and residents alike come together to sway to the sounds of a real swing band. And students are serious about their mascot. They could seriously remake “Happy Feet” with the number of penguin costumes floating around.
Despite its newness, Stone Hall hasn’t been designed to fully satisfy most Harvard undergraduates. The shared common rooms and hallway bathrooms, which force residents to leave the comfort of their bedrooms in the middle of the night, leave something to be desired.
Fighting for a seat in your own dining hall can get old, and you might miss the homeyness of other Houses. New Quincy certainly lacks the Neo-Georgian flair that other River Houses boast. Yet, in the scheme of things these are minor drawbacks, which should do little to dampen the fluttering hearts of students who become penguins on Housing Day.