Illuminating the Best-Kept Secrets in Room Draw
By David Zheutlin '11 and Alex Coburn '11
As seniors who will not be participating in room draw this week, we would like to give some advice to all you underclassmen next year, and especially to rising seniors: briefly pause in your ruminations between the Socials and the Triangle, and consider living on the Hill. Tyler and Plimpton houses are two of the best-kept secrets of housing at Amherst, mostly because they’ve been rented out to Hampshire College for the last two years. These two mansions were built as fraternity houses in 1914 and 1931, respectively, and stand on some of the finest real estate on campus, where rolling green lawns surrounded by an extensive oak grove provide the ideal landscape for campus golfing, outdoor parties and general collegiate enjoyment. Just a short walk from town, to the west, and the main campus, to the south (four and a half minutes to Val, as of last summer), the Hill represents a location that provides both a connection with campus life and a sense of independence.

But what is most appealing about these dorms are their incredible designs. With its two-story ceilings, expansive floor-space, overhanging second-floor interior balcony and grand fireplace, the Tyler ballroom (below) is easily the best social space on campus for any type of gathering. This past summer, the ballroom of Tyler hosted some of the best parties I’ve experienced in my college years — and that was when there were barely 200 students on campus. Plimpton House, on the other hand, boasts one of the most inspiring rooms on campus in the Newton Library — a first-floor common space dating back to the 1920’s — whose oak paneling was shipped in from 19th-century Oxford mansions by President Plimpton, and whose fireplace originally stood in Issac Newton’s house in London. When I was a freshman and sophomore, this spot proved ideal for early-evening beer-ponging, late-night studying and large social gatherings alike.

Let’s face it — since the renovations to Seelye, Hitchcock and Mayo-Smith, the Triangle is no longer the campus social hub that it used to be. And while the socials are awesome — we’ve lived in Pond for the last two years — it’s likely that, at this point, most “social” to-be seniors already have at least a year of Socials living under their belt. More importantly, Tyler and Plimpton blow away any Social or Triangle dorm, in terms of party space (grand common rooms, outdoor porches, expansive lawns), comfort (cozy couches, warm lighting, carpeted floors) and character (carved wooden walls, books that date back to the 1800’s, elegant chandeliers). Plus, the social-life potential in these houses is huge — the Hill really could become the party hub that the Triangle used to be when members of the class of 2011 were freshmen.

The type of social gathering that the Hill was designed for — big house parties where hundreds of people can comfortably have a great time — is what’s been missing on campus in the past few years. There’s really nowhere left on campus, besides the recently forlorn Hill, for, say, 200 people to go to a party without things turning into a hallway and/or stairwell squish-fest. But the Hill can, and historically did, house these parties. When you think “college house party,” you’re probably imagining an expansive foyer when you walk in, big lawns out front, hardwood floors and an old New England feel to the place. That’s the Hill at your very own Amherst College — an unused party resource just waiting to be, well, tapped. All it takes is a few adventurous to-be seniors who would be willing to get together and make it happen.

But don’t take our word for it — go up there before room draw and check out Tyler and Plimpton. We think you’ll be surprised at what you find.

Issue 19, Submitted 2011-03-23 01:19:45