5. Adams House

The following article was written for the Crimson by A. B. Gardiner '33, Chairman of the Adams House Committee.

Lost in the maze of buildings which lie between the historic Yard and the tortuous Charles, its gold tower dwarfed by the belling pinnacle of Lowell House, is Adams House, unit of the House Plan which combines the relies of the Gold Coast age with the latest products of the fertile minds of those masters, Messrs. Coolidge, Shepley, Bullfinch & Abbott, to form an architectural jumble, but at the same time a bizarre and altogether pleasing entirety. For though Westmorly and Randolph are separated by an intervening unit containing the Dining Hall, Common Rooms, Library, and C entry, the whole is linked together by a subterranean passage which has access to all parts of the House, an invaluable aid in stormy weather or for the use of those wishing to use the swimming pool in Westmorly, and the diversification of different types of suites is more pronounced than it would have been were the whole House entirely new.

Adams House, though the last House to be completed (the new C entry was opened last Fall), has since its inception two years ago been taking an active part not only in inter-house activities, but also in the advancement of what might be termed cultural opportunities, in the form of weekly informal House dinners, usually followed by an informal talk given by a prominent speaker. Attendance at these gatherings is of course, voluntary, and the growing popularity of these meetings has been proved by the increasing numbers present. All such activities have originated either in the undergraduate minds or have been presented to the undergraduate representatives for their approval and cooperation by the Master, whose policy of helpful suggestion has made him a popular and indispensable part of the House life. Indeed, it is largely through Professor Baxter's efforts that the House has been transformed from a heterogeneous collection of individuals into an efficient, smooth-running unit.

There are three main features which the residents of Adams House consider distinct advantages: its proximity to the Yard, its separate cuisine, and the swimming pool. The first is a distinct advantage to those having 12 o'clock and 2 o'clock classes on the same day. The second is an advantage at all times, and the third is a unique feature of the House. As to the rest of the plant, it is as well equipped with the usual squash courts, music rooms and library as the other Houses.

House spirit may be said to be still in its infancy. As far as anyone can see there has been no one as yet who has volunteered to "rally round and die for dear old Adams," as may perhaps be the case at some future time, but there is a growing feeling of genuine pride and interest in the House, not a feeling that will break down the social barriers that are bound to exist in any cross-section of a social institution, but one which is gradually creating a common bond of working fellowship. From the first the House has been marked for its informality, and this spirit still continues, not only in the relations between the Master, Tutors, and students but among the latter themselves. Except for the weekly meeting of the Tutors for lunch on Wednesday, there is no special seclud- ed spot for them to gather at meal times, and at all meals they are to be found dining with undergraduate members of the House.


Of House lore, there is somewhat more than spirit. The present President of the United States is said to have lived in Westmorly during part of his undergraduate stay. Ann Pennington is reputed to have been entertained in the swimming pool with many of her beautifully-limbed compatriots, and the various versions of this rumor are both exciting and legion. Then too there is the good-will bestowed upon the House by the no longer existing Adams House of Boston, a hostel long famous for its good cheer, the deed for which is in the House archives. Besides these more or less authentic representations, there is an air of glamorous mystery which still clings to the palaces of the Gold Coast, an atmosphere which cannot be sensed until lived in.

Adams House is well supplied with tutors from the various departments of the University, but it is especially strong in the fields of English, History, Government and Economics. The library possesses a general collection which contains practically all the books necessary for tutorial reading in any field, and is particularly well stocked for work in English, Fine Arts, International Relations and Mathematics. The library offers not only opportunity for regular day-to-day class work but for cultural reading as well, and every effort has been made to provide a comfortable, attractive place for study.

Social life, that is organized social life, does not play a very prominent part in the House. An occasional formal dance or a tea dance during the football season seems to be all that the House will support. However, the House lends itself admirably to individual entertaining, due to the special facilities provided in the newly constructed C entry, and guests are often seen at the noon and evening meals on Saturday and at dinner on Sunday. Some criticism may be made of this liberality of entertainment, but it is well to remember that the rules laid down are largely due to undergraduate opinion and that at any time these rules can be revised.

The unattractive exterior of Adams House is probably its greatest disadvantage. But let anyone come under the influence of the congenial good fellowship which flows forth from Apthorp House, the Master's lodgings, and he will forget architectural differences, social differences of physical differences, and remember only that he is a resident of the House, and as such on a par with all the other residents; for the spirit of Adams House is in its Master, Professor James Phinney Baxter, 3rd.

Adams House is a unit, a scattered and individualistic mass, but a unit nevertheless. And it is the hope of those men at its head that some day it will develop into a spiritual unit as well. Realizing, however, that this development can only come with time, they are pursuing a policy of cooperative encouragement, not forceful imposition