Campus Cribs: Currier Basement Mansion

Last Saturday morning, I stumbled out of bed and embarked on a cold journey to the Odd Quad.

By the time I reached the infamous Currier eyes, my own were frozen into a squint. After entering Currier Hall, I proceeded to the end of the basement hallway and knocked on a seemingly normal door adorned simply with a plaque that read “B-11” and a smiling sun. “Come in,” a far-off female voice called in response. The moment I opened the door, light and warmth flooded my face. Eyes now wide open and defrosted, I was greeted by a towering brick fireplace and Annelise Hewitt ’11, the lucky proprietor of this warm mansion, looking up from a reclining chair.

“Hey, want to sit down?” she asked. I relaxed onto a couch, completely at ease in a stranger’s room. Maybe it was the fireplace, the Christmas lights strung across the bricks, the several comfy chairs or maybe it was magic – I felt overcome by a spell of somnolence and wasn’t sure if I’d ever be able to get up from the couch.

Apparently my improbable fantasy had actually been a reality for Hewitt. Once, after incurring a longboarding injury, she did not leave her room for several days. “I was happy I got to stay in here – I got Netflix, friends brought me food, we chilled out – It was nice for being hurt,” she said. I instantly agreed – if I had to be stuck inside for a while, I can’t think of a place on campus better than her room.

In Hewitt’s mansion, piles of tea, jewelry, little boxes and strange knick-knacks are scattered on nearly every surface. Her Anthropologie quilt offers a splash of color that complements other vibrant decorations – art exhibit posters, a photo of her big white dog wearing a goofy hat, two calendars from her days as an intern for an Adult Swim television show and an old dinosaur Halloween costume draped over a standing lamp.

In Hewitt’s not-so-humble abode, the twenty-something heaps of clutter almost look planned, artfully avoiding wide patches of desk, table and floor. Funky colored eyeglasses, tag sale mugs, a strewn deck of cards and an “electronic yodeling pickle” come together in glamorous displays. A rainbow of boots also adorns the top of a dresser for ready-to-wear convenience.

Actual art is an even more prominent aspect of the room, rising high along the walls toward the ceiling. A work-in-progress collage sprawls across one wall, featuring Hewitt’s handmade B-24 WOOLF trip poster and an orange James Dean bust. Across from it, a gray U.S. Mailbox sits discreetly in the nook of the stone mantel above the fireplace. “I’m still looking for the perfect thing to put there,” Hewitt said. “I feel like having some kind of weird bust, like a James Brown dancing doll.”

On top of the dresser stands a perfect symbol of the warm, eccentric and colossal room: a four-foot-tall blue and white sculpture, stretching with spindly limbs towards the walls and ceiling. Hewitt created the sculpture from wood and metal and covered it in buttoned strips of shirt collars. Its outstretched arms seem to exude roars of appreciation for inhabiting such a desirable room on campus.

It seems unfathomable to me that the room was not highly coveted during room draw last year. Hewitt received one of the last pick numbers. “I have no idea why no one took this room; maybe they thought that living in the basement would be bad,” she said. I guess they didn’t know that a basement room could come with a 20-foot ceiling, a stone mantle above a fireplace and glass French doors leading onto a private balcony.

Hewitt’s room was intended to be a double, but thanks to the powers of love, her roommate moved in with her boyfriend on the second day of school. As a double the room is prodigious, but as a single, it may possibly be the largest abode of any college student, ever.

With the additional bed left over from her ex-roommate, Hewitt has had a few sleepover parties and is even considering an all-campus sleepover party in her room (watch for posters). Looking around the vast expanse of Hewitt’s room, I’m convinced a couple hundred students could easily pile in. “You can comfortably have a dozen people in here,” said Sarah Weber ’11, who was sitting at Hewitt’s desk reading. Although her envious friends may not have wanted the room during room draw, they now frequently stop by to hang out. Even “Chicago’s famous” DJ Skyler spent a couple of hours in Hewitt’s mansion before spinning at First Fridays last semester.

If Hewitt isn’t abroad in Belgium eating waffles and chocolate next year, she’d like to keep her room, but this year, she may have to fight for it. “I’d like to live here again, but now so many people have seen it [and want it],” she said. “I brought my WOOLFies here and they screamed, ‘Oh my god how’d you get this room? I want to get this room! Ahh!’”

All I can say is: agreed.