Dunster House

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Dunster House
Dunster House

Founded: 1930
Mascot: Henry Dunster Moose (Find him on Facebook).
House Masters: IBM Professor of Business Roger Porter and Mrs. Ann Porter

Freshmen should know right off the bat that if they get sorted into Dunster this morning, they are not actually getting sorted into Dunster House. Dunster House is a gorgeous neo-Georgian masterpiece whose iconic red bell tower shines on the picture postcards that Harvard Square tourists mail back home. Dunster House has a majestic dining hall paneled in dark wood and hung with golden chandeliers, and a library whose rich oriental carpets and walnut tables are old Harvard at its finest. Dunster House has a comfortable, friendly basement grille where curly fries and chocolate shakes are served until 2 a.m., a weight room, cardio room, erg room, four squash courts, a basketball court, a dance studio, a TV room, and a JCR that becomes Harvard’s hottest Stein Club every other Friday night. (Dunster House also has walkthroughs small enough to necessitate scaled-down desks and enough old, peeling paint to alarm the CDC).

New Dunster freshmen are instead being sorted into Dunster-in-exile, a House community forced from the banks of the Charles to a traffic island in the middle of Mass Ave. As the real Dunster House, built in 1930, will be spending the next year off the grid for complete interior renovations, freshmeese can look forward to moving into swing housing as sophmeese instead. The Inn at Harvard, located mere feet from the Barker Center, will serve as the community’s pseudo-Dunster, with a dining hall, communal spaces, House offices, and student housing built in. Hampden, Ridgely, and Fairfax, which currently serve as swing housing for displaced Leverettites, will house many Dunster students as well, as will the recently converted Prescott Street apartments. With their hardwood floors, ensuite kitchenettes, and spacious accommodations, the swing spaces will likely prove popular. It is unclear, however, if the community will be able to sustain its tight-knitted feel with its inhabitants spread out across six different buildings.

Currently, Dunster has one of the strongest senses of House spirit on campus. Centered largely around the dining hall, where Meese can be found studying, chatting, and of course, eating, at all hours of the day and night (Dunster dinner is open until 8 p.m.), House life is warm, supportive, and above all, fun. House Masters Roger and Ann Porter are known for their festive monthly open houses, and often sneak homemade goodies into brain break during midterms and finals seasons. Tutors are actively involved in the community — their athletic efforts have been instrumental in achieving Dunster’s current second-place Straus Cup standing — and organize game nights and outings on a regular basis. Additionally, from the House offices to the dining hall to the guards’ desk, House staff take the time to learn students’ names and quickly become integral to Meese’s Dunster experience.

As with anything at Harvard, however, tradition is what makes the House, and Dunster is rife with it. The first house to host a petting zoo, Dunster hosts a hoe-down each fall in the courtyard with bobbing for apples and apple cider doughnuts. Halloween brings pumpkin carving contests, and the Christmas season is marked by a full orchestral performance of Handel’s Messiah in the dining hall led by professional opera singers and choral books from the 1920s. A twenty-foot tree (usually with more than a few menorah ornaments) and dangling kissing balls setting the scene. The winter formal is usually inter-house and off-campus, but the spring formal is held amid the dogwood blossoms in the House courtyard, overlooking the Charles and Weeks Footbridge. The highlight of the spring semester, however, might be the annual Goat Roast, during which Dunster students and tutors skin a whole goat with primitive tools and then roast it on a spit in the courtyard. Meese less inclined to sink their teeth into gamey goat are treated to a full barbecue with bouncy castles and sumo wrestling suits. The rest of the year is punctuated with spontaneous s’mores, also in the courtyard, senior common room dinners, and increasingly notorious Stein Clubs. If you’ve ever wanted to see a drunk moose get down, you’re in the right House. Sleep tight freshmeese, and dream of Dunster. We’ll have antlers waiting for you when you wake.