At first sight, it’s hard to believe that Perry is a dorm building. It looks enormous from the outside, and on the inside, the grandeur is slightly overwhelming. With the large staircase and the wooden floors and paneling, the building seems more like an old New England mansion than a college dorm building.
The same can be said of one of the rooms on the first floor that currently houses Rachel Maclean ’14. The room has a very high ceiling and an enormous, ornate fireplace backed by a brick wall. The various textbooks and folders that Maclean placed on the wall are the only reminder that the room is in fact college housing. Three windows line one end of the room, and the walls are simply and artfully decorated. Given the beauty of the room, it’s easy to see why someone might pick into Perry, despite the large distance separating the building from the dining halls, which Maclean assured me is not that bad. “I don’t mind the location for eating because Paresky is reasonably close, particularly when the weather is nice,” Maclean said.
Maclean’s room is large, and when I mentioned this she explained that it is actually meant to be a double. “I ended up getting the first pick of the junior class, so there were a number of rooms available, but no singles were available in Perry or Wood House.” Despite this, Maclean decided to risk getting placed with a stranger for a roomate and pick into a double as a party of one. “I’m sure the Office of Student Life didn’t appreciate it, but it’s worked out really well,” Maclean said, and she has made good use of the two beds, pushing them together to create one large sleeping area, adding to the manor-like feel of the room.
Maclean, in an effort to personalize the large space, has decorated various walls with an eclectic mix of posters. The most noticeable posters are the Chinese paintings and characters that she’s put up in memory of her trip to Shanghai last summer. “It’s actually been kind of hard to fill all the wall space because there’s so much, and some of it is way too high for me to reach,” she said, with a nod to the 14-foot ceiling. “I think my favorite thing about the room is the high ceilings,” Maclean said. “I’ve never had a bedroom with a 14-foot ceiling, so it’s pretty cool.”
Surprisingly, the large space does not intimidate her, and she manages to fill it well. “It probably should be too big for me, but given that I have an unbelievable amount of stuff I’ve been able to fill it all,” Maclean said. “I can’t imagine what it would be like if I had a roommate – the room would probably be overflowing.”
However, living in such a grandiose room does have its drawbacks. “I’ve been thinking a lot about how I will possibly be able to transition back to a regular dorm room next year. I feel like it’ll almost be a culture shock,” Maclean said. The antiquity of the house also presents some problems in the winter. “Perry is a really old house, and the windows are not quite air-tight, to say the least,” Maclean said. She also added that if Perry’s kitchen had a stove instead of just an oven, her housing situation would be complete.
She assured me, though, that these are minor complaints, and that she truly loves her living situation: “I really lucked into this room, and I can’t picture leaving it. Everyone who lives in Perry is wonderful and I really appreciate not only my room, but also the Goat Room, library and common rooms.”
Lastly, I asked her about the giant fireplace, in front of which she has placed her desk and books. The mantelpiece was erected in honor of a former student of the College from the Class of 1989 who passed away during his first year. The memorial, it turns out, is what gave rise to various rumors that say that supposedly the student to whom the fireplace is dedicated haunts the room. It isn’t much of a surprise; a large, beautiful old building like this one wouldn’t be complete without an old specter floating about.
Did these rumors cause Maclean to reconsider her choice of room? “No, not at all, actually,” she says with a breezy smile. “I think I believe the room is haunted, but I also think that the spirit is really friendly.” After all, it’s advertised as a double for a reason.