Campus Cribs: Saint John’s Rectory

With ample dance space, a spacious dining room and a fully stocked kitchen, Saint John’s Rectory has all the ingredients for a successful party. Lively crowds? It’s got them. Grilled quesadillas at midnight? It’s got those too.

Part of the beauty of the Rectory, an eight-person co-op nestled inconspicuously between Saint John’s Church and the ’62 Center, is its ability to successfully fly under the radar and make good use of the student body’s unfamiliarity with the old residential building. Last winter, for instance, residents threw an unregistered party with more than 150 students and a live band in the living room.

Though the students have changed over the years, the house’s potential for fun hasn’t. Although their house is slightly off the beaten path and across the street from the festivity-heavy row houses, the Rectory’s residents still know how to throw a party. And one with an exclusivity that others on campus do not.

Adding to its mystery, nowhere on the campus Web site can one find the co-op’s square footage, and only a sketchy floor plan is available through the Office of Campus Life since the house has had a short lifespan as a dorm (it was leased from the church only a decade or so ago). Mike Kirwan ’08 described it as the most underrated co-op and fellow resident Carrie Plitt ’08 called it “the best find on campus.” The Rectory is clearly recognized by those who live there for what it is – one of the nicest housing options at Williams.

Though the secret may now be out, at the end of the school year the College will be turning the house back over to the church, making the current group of eight residents the last that will live there as students.

Are the house residents making the most of the house in its last year as a college dorm? Absolutely. Enter the Rectory on a Sunday afternoon: in the kitchen, the breakfast table is adorned with two gourds and a rotting pumpkin, compliments of Plitt. Two refrigerators stocked with everything from milk to easy-bake cookie batter are organized by food group and the remnants of what look to be quesadillas clutter the counter.

On the wall by the door, a chart lists the residents along with a contribution to the weekly potluck meal, a superpower and a “seismic activity.” This week the potluck has an Italian theme, and as always the residents share the responsibility of providing the food for Thursday night dinners. Second floor dweller Matthew Neuber ’08 has yet to contribute a dish and instead opts to provide alcohol. On a bulletin board above a breakfast table is a quote board made from a torn piece of notebook paper. Next to it, a house calendar highlights important events, such as a “Beauty and the Geek” party that the house held last month.

As illustrated by the weekly potlucks, the residents of the Rectory like to think of themselves as a family, happily comparing themselves to characters on the sitcom “Full House.” Kirwan is said to play the role of Uncle Jesse, while Neuber is the fatherly, Bob Saget type. The other six residents see themselves as the children, with Worth MacDonald ’11 filling the part of Kimmy, an annoying friend who drops by to visit unannounced. Described as a ninth member of the house, MacDonald apparently harbors a crush on resident Jenn Sit ’08, who, according to Kirwan, is MacDonald’s type. He threw a steering wheel at her flirtatiously last time he visited.

Beyond the kitchen, there is an open dining room and a spacious television room, in which Dance Dance Revolution and Guitar Hero III are played. Downstairs, Anna Merritt ’08 lives in the former library and the largest bedroom in the house. With multiple windows, a filled-in fireplace and ample shelving, the room retains some of the features of its past use.

A steep staircase leads up to the second floor, where six members of the house live. Bedrooms, bathrooms and uncommon miniature rooms branch off a rundown hallway. To one side, Plitt has a spacious bedroom that she has decorated with copies of famous works of art. After two years in Mission, Plitt says, her room is “like a palace.” It is connected to Sit’s smaller room by a door whose swing is impeded by Plitt’s bed. The rooms share a view of the Greylock quad and the ’62 Center. Across the hall, Kirwan and Neuber have connected rooms, which are considerably smaller, but, like Plitt, Kirwan says his room is gigantic compared to what he lived in last year.

From the bathroom, there is a door that leads up to the attic, which, according to Sit, is haunted. Inexplicably, she says, doors have flown open and a push lamp has mysteriously turned on by itself. Though unused and uninhabitable, the attic is large and used for storage. According to Sit, a backpack in the corner is evidence that a homeless person has taken up residence there without their permission.

Though brought together by chance, the two boys and the six girls are getting along exceptionally well. Beyond the weekly potlucks, they throw joint parties and enjoy each other’s friends. With three of the eight residents being former JAs and with multiple sports teams and social groups represented, visitors to the house tend make up a mixed group.

As the Rectory’s final student residents, these Ephs plan to make the house go out with a bang.