Lowell House

By Ellis J. Yeo
In Lowell House, rrising sophomores can expect to jump into immediately into vibrant House life including regular tea times and in-house speeches
By Andy Fan

Lowell is synonymous with community (and not in the incestuous way) so rising sophomores can expect to jump into immediately into vibrant House life including regular tea times and in-house speeches. Lowell can also considered to be the best of both worlds in the lottery, as new Lowellians will get to enjoy swing housing for a year before becoming the first residents of a renovated Lowell proper.

By Lydia L. Cawley

All About Housing

Because Lowell House will still be under renovation for the next school year, most sophomores can expect to live in the Lowtell next year. Most of these rooms will be relatively spacious doubles with in-suite bathrooms and air conditioning (!). Sophomores are generally sorted to the Inn, at 1201 Mass. Ave, to keep them close together and foster a stronger sense of community in their first year in Lowell.

Given the bloat of the Class of 2021 though, it’s likely that there will be a number of lucky sophomores who get to live in other swing housing, which includes Prescott, Ridgely, Fairfax, and more. These are mostly suites which house around four people and provide residents with massive common rooms, so keep your fingers crossed. Although this year none of these rooms were used as party spaces, there’s no doubt that the potential is there, with the right residents.

Though details about the renovation are sparse, the updated Lowell House will have a space dedicated to screening/watching films in addition to all-around upgraded amenities.


Community is Lowell’s main quality (enough to be considered a quirk!) and this tradition has persisted despite the move to swing housing during the House’s renovation. As mentioned, the Lowtell is purposely filled with sophomores in order to to build a sense of tightness and community the moment students enter the House.

This strong sense of House spirit is carried even by alumni. HoCo co-chair Sal R. DeFrancesco ’19 notes many Lowellians who return to Harvard as graduate students or professors “immediately try to affiliate with the Senior Common Room.”

Co-chair Nick C. Colon ’19 says most of HoCo’s budget “goes towards building Lowell House community,” ranging from steins within the house to outings in Boston. Colon also notes that the transition to swing housing has not stopped Lowell’s traditional weekly teas, describing it as “the time where all of Lowell House gets together” and “one of the hallmarks of most Lowellians’ time in Lowell.” DeFrancesco says simply, “I love Thursday tea.”

Lowell's swing housing, via the Plympton St entrance.
Lowell's swing housing, via the Plympton St entrance. By Ellis J. Yeo

Beyond these social events, Lowell House also has Lowell Speeches every year, a series of speeches in the spring semester that allow Lowellians to deliver performances on any topic to the rest of their Housemates.

Your Questions, Answered

We got even more information about Lowell House from the HoCo chairs:

Tell us something quirky about Lowell.

NC: Bacchanalia, which is our spring formal. So historically when we were in Lowell proper, we had a tent in the courtyard for the first half of the event, and then we’d go into the dining hall for the second half for more of a party type vibe. But, in between those two things we have a Bacchus ceremony where around [11 p.m.] or midnight depending on the year...we’d go up to our belltower where we have our set of Russian bells, and we ring the bell twelve times and then a Bacchus comes out; he’s dressed in a toga, carrying a bottle of wine. There’s this whole script and whole kind of performance of Bacchus coming out and causing revelry.

SD: That’s how we usher everyone from the outside tent into the inside dining hall for the second half of the event. So yeah, that was a lot of fun last year.

If you could pitch Lowell House to freshman, how would you advocate for it?

SD: I would say even if you’re scared about swing, even if you’re concerned that you’re gonna come in here and your blocking group’s very small, you don’t know anyone you got into the House with, everyone in Lowell House gets to know almost everyone else in Lowell House. Really, there’s events for everyone and if you show up to one of them, you’re gonna meet someone that you never [would have] met otherwise.

NC: I would definitely want the incoming sophomores to know that there will always be a support system for them, whether that be in HoCo, whether that be their blocking group, or whether that be the House administration, there’s always going to be someone who will try to make sure that their Lowell House experience is going to be the best that it could possibly be.

Could you describe Lowell House in one phrase?

SD: Nope.

NC: Aside from just being extremely supportive, I really think it’s hard to encompass all that Lowell House is in one phrase.

SD: Should be we be quirky and use occasionem cognosce?

NC: Yes.

SD: Okay, so Lowell House’s motto is occasionem cognosce. That means “know the occasion.” So I would say that’s the motto for a reason. Whether you’re [on] the House Committee, whether you’re staff, whether you’re [a] student; we really try to get a read on the occasion, figure out what’s best, and because of that we put on some of the best events.

Read our overviews of the other Houses here.

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