Quincy House (Harvard College)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Quincy House
Residential House at Harvard University
Harvard University
Mather Hall.JPG
Stone Hall (the former Increase Mather Hall, usually called "Old Quincy")
Location58 Plympton Street
Coordinates42°22′14″N 71°07′02″W / 42.3705°N 71.1171°W / 42.3705; -71.1171Coordinates: 42°22′14″N 71°07′02″W / 42.3705°N 71.1171°W / 42.3705; -71.1171
Full nameJosiah Quincy III House
Named forJosiah Quincy III
Sister collegeBranford College
Freshman dormPennypacker Hall
Faculty DeansLee and Deborah Gehrke
DeanJudith Flynn
HoCo chairsGia Marciano and Allison Oliva

Quincy House is one of twelve undergraduate residential Houses at Harvard University, located on Plympton Street between Harvard Yard and the Charles River. The second largest of the twelve undergraduate houses, Quincy House was named after Josiah Quincy III (1772–1864), president of Harvard from 1829 to 1845.[1] Quincy House's official counterpart at Yale University is Branford College.

House colors are red, gold, and black, and the House's seal in those colors is emblazoned on a wall of the dining hall wing facing the House's main courtyard. In 2005, Quincy House adopted the penguin as its official mascot.[2][3] Its residents, nicknamed "penguins" after the mascot, live in the house during their sophomore through senior years.


Officially opened in September 1959, Quincy House symbolized the "new" Harvard. As a part of the Edward Harkness bequest, it was the first House to be built after construction of the original seven river Houses. Three buildings currently house Quincy House students: Old Quincy, New Quincy, and 20 DeWolfe Street.

The older of the sections of Quincy House, "Old Quincy", underwent extensive renovations during academic year 2012-13 and opened in the fall of 2013 as Stone Hall. It had originally been named for early Harvard president Increase Mather and was part of Harvard's Leverett House until 1960. Constructed in 1929-30 during Abbott Lawrence Lowell's university presidency, its neo-Georgian exterior has been retained, but its finely detailed suites, high ceilings, carved moldings, and fireplaces have given way to modern suites, corridors that invite interaction between suite residents, and sunlit common rooms. Until the construction of New Quincy in the late 1950s necessitated their removal, the now open east side was enclosed by a one-story range of squash courts.

Designed by the Boston firm of Shepley, Bulfinch, Richardson, and Abbott, New Quincy is a modern eight-story high-rise with views of its more traditional neighbors. It consists of a two-story commons wing along Mt. Auburn Street, a nine-story main residence unit with split level suites having splendid views, and the raised, glass-walled House Library, nicknamed "the Qube", the placement of which adds a second interior court to the series of courtyards and gardens that are a distinctive part of the House.[4]

The 20 DeWolfe Street residence hall is a brick structure with a double mansard roof of lead-coated copper. The 10 and 20 DeWolfe Street residences are overflow housing that have at various times housed freshmen,[5] students from Leverett House, Dunster House,[6] and Kirkland House.[7]

House Traditions[edit]

At the beginning of each academic year, Quincy House hosts a field day in which second, third, and fourth year students compete against each other in athletic contests. The "Quincy Assassins" is an annual event in which students target a fellow house member with a Nerf gun. Another recently implemented tradition of the House is its annual lip-sync battle.

On the day each spring when freshmen learn of their House affiliations for their upperclass years, Quincy House students storm the yard with their house flag, led by someone wearing a penguin suit. The 2011 theme for Quincy was "Quinception", inspired by the film Inception.

There had been a tradition in the 1970s for a weekly dinner in one of the small rooms off the main dining hall where excessive amounts of cannabis were smoked; by the end, or even the middle, of dinner a haze would usually settle over the room. This continued at least into spring term 1980 but was phased out not long after that.

House Life[edit]

Currently, Quincy House Masters are Lee and Deborah Gehrke. Lee is the Hermann von Helmholtz Professor of Health Sciences and Technology at MIT and professor of microbiology and molecular genetics at Harvard Medical School. The Masters are actively involved in student life; they often dine with students and periodically hold receptions in the Quincy House House master residence in New Quincy's penthouse. House events are coordinated by the Quincy House Committee, or HoCo. The committee operates separately from the Harvard Undergraduate Council (UC) to organize student events and manage funding. Like other house organizations, HoCo is funded by the UC. The two HoCo co-chairs for 2018 are Ronni Cuccia and Harry Tanzola.

Each Harvard House possesses unique characteristics and Quincy is no different. The Quincy Grille is a student-run diner that is popular among students of all Harvard dormitories. The grill is open seven days a week and serves a standard board of grill fare such as mozzarella sticks, fries, and chicken fingers but additionally serves signature items such as the Lee and Nerden burgers (named after House Master Lee Gehrke and Building Manager Dick Nerden, respectively) as well as Too Much Swag (a combination of cheese-covered popcorn chicken and curly fries) and Quinception (a quesadilla with chicken and mozzarella sticks). Quincy House's library is called "the Qube", a reference to its shape and glass walls. The Qube has one of the best comic book collections at Harvard. The House's dining hall is unrestricted except to first-year students and on Thursday night for Community Dinner. Large glass walls surround the dining hall, allowing natural light to enter and affording views of the House courtyards, Mt. Auburn Street, and even sunsets sometimes. The dining hall's interior is also unique, as it has a "ski lodge" feel and a large abstract mural occupies its entire back wall. Quincy's Junior Common Room, decorated with mid-century modern period furniture, is a popular location for doing homework and having informal and formal gatherings, but only Quincy students have swipe access. The House lobby features pool and ping-pong tables that promote House socializing. The House also contains a pottery studio, dance studio, and gym.

Quincy House is sometimes called "The People's House" because it seems to belong to everyone at Harvard; its central location and few restrictions enable undergraduates from all Houses and student organizations to meet there freely.


As Quincy House was named after Josiah Quincy III, the correct pronunciation is /ˈkwɪnzi/. It is widely mispronounced, however, as /ˈkwɪnsi/. [8]

Famous Alumni[edit]

Famous Quincy alumni include New York Times columnist Ross Douthat,[9] former Solicitor General Seth P. Waxman,[10] former Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen, director Rob Cohen, Assemblyman Nelson Denis, journalist Lou Dobbs, former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith, Jamie Gorelick, first Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, Ron Kind, Peter Sagal, Suzanne Malveaux, Anthony Brown, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, ESPN sportswriter Pablo S. Torre, Robert Kirshner, and Judge Lucy H. Koh. Massachusetts Congressman Seth Moulton and Merrick Garland, Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and nominee for Supreme Court Justice, were affiliated tutors at Quincy House as graduate students.


  1. ^ "Photographic views of Quincy House, 1957-1970s". Harvard University Archives. Retrieved 16 June 2016.
  2. ^ Oreilly, Kara M "Mascot-less, But Not For Long" Harvard Crimson. April 21, 2005.
  3. ^ Lonyai, Anna "Photo: Penguin Parade" Harvard Crimson. May 25, 2005.
  4. ^ Quincy House: An introduction to its architecture. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1959.
  5. ^ Bishai, Graham; Shimozaki, Kenton (3 August 2017). "DeWolfe to House 28 Freshmen". The Harvard Crimson. Retrieved 10 July 2018.
  6. ^ "Dunster House". The Harvard Crimson. 7 March 2017. Retrieved 10 July 2018.
  7. ^ "Kirkland's History". Harvard University. Retrieved 10 July 2018.
  8. ^ In a sample of 15 former undergraduates from the classes of 1997 and 1998 taken on 26 and 27 July 2014, all 15 used the second, incorrect pronunciation.
  9. ^ Walsh, Colleen "Guardian of the House" Harvard Gazette. March 18, 2010.
  10. ^ "1972 Class Marshal Candidates" Cambridge: Harvard Crimson, October 26, 1972.

External links[edit]