Summer coaxes students to 'famous' houses off'campus

by Jason Casell | 8/4/95 5:00am

If you see a cat aimlessly wandering the streets of Hanover, call someone at the "Happy Home."

Nesta, the name given to the cat that used to live at the house behind the Lodge, is just one of many unusual aspects of this legendary off-campus dwelling.

"Nesta was kicked out of Hanover," said Justin Sandler '97, one of four sophomores living in the "Happy Home" this summer. "He was always showing up at the Hanover Inn trying to get food."

"He would hitch rides on cars to neighboring towns," Sandler continued. "We would get about three calls a day about Nesta showing up all over town."

At first glance, the "Happy Home" does not seem to live up to its name. The house sports an unassuming exterior which belies its joyous moniker.

Sandler shares the house with B.J. Bernreuter '97, Daniel Dalseth '97 and Brooks Weaver '97.

Sandler said he did not know the history behind the house's name, but offered his own theory on its origin.

"It's a kind of sentimentality among the people who live here," Sandler said. "We try to have an atmosphere where everyone is welcome."

The welcome atmosphere became more apparent upon a visit to the third floor attic, where a practice studio has been set up for the band "Mana and the Vibrations."

"We practice here and hang out here," said Joe Gilbertson '97, the drummer for the band. Gilbertson does not live in the house, but is friends with Weaver and Bernreuter, who play bass and guitar in Gilbertson's band.

Gilbertson said the house has somewhat of a musical history since Kirsten Stromberg '94 previously lived in the attic of the "Happy Home."

"She used to live here and practice with her band 'Turbo '," he said.

Sandler said the relaxed environment in the house is conducive to having informal gatherings and parties.

"We feel it's nice to throw parties," he said. "It's a good way to get out of the Greek-based social system for a change of pace in terms of partying."

Sandler said he has grown accustomed to living off-campus and does not plan to return to residence halls. He said he plans to stay in the "Happy Home" as long as possible.

"It's hard with the D-Plan to get a lease, and I'm off in the winter," he said. "I plan on living here senior year too."

The 'Love Shack'

While the origins of the "Happy Home" name are unknown, the house known as the "Love Shack" earned its name from its phone number.

"The telephone number used to be 643-LOVE," said Lea Kelley '97, one of five women living in the "Love Shack" this summer. "It was changed to 643-HATE."

Kelley said the house, which is located at 24 West Wheelock Street, is traditionally occupied by women.

"Last summer it was coed, but usually girls live here," she said.

Kelley is sharing the house with four members of her freshman undergraduate advising group.

She said traditionally, "Love Shack" is home to wedding showers or engagement parties for the women who live there.

Kelley said she enjoys living off-campus, but the "Love Shack" arrangement is only for the summer.

"I'm living off-campus from now on," Kelley said. "Everyone has different D-Plans so this was just for the summer."

The 'River Ranch'

Across the Connecticut River, in Norwich, Vt., six sophomores are spending their summer living in the "River Ranch," named for its location on the river and its open environment.

"The 'River Ranch' is known for its theme parties," said Peter Guinn '97, one of the house's occupants. "They are creative, artsy parties like body painting."

Guinn said he and his housemates threw a party earlier this term based on a "wishes" theme.

"Everyone wrote down their wishes and put them in a bowl," he said. "Then people lit candles, and we put them on the porch."

Another feature of the "River Ranch" is its back porch, which hangs approximately 30 feet above the river.

Guinn said he and his housemates jumped off the porch several times a day at the beginning of the term, but the novelty has worn off over the summer.

"It's a great way to wake up in the morning," he said. "The thrill of jumping gets your body jump-started."

Guinn said he has swum to campus several times.

"I've only done that twice with one of my friends," he said. "Sometimes we'll canoe, but I usually ride my bike."

Guinn said the location of the house is somewhat inconvenient for traveling to campus, but he said the benefits of being away from campus make the trip worthwhile.

"I have weaned myself off BlitzMail -- I don't hover around my computer as much," he said. "I also don't have as many distractions. It suits my personality to be off-campus."

Guinn also said living with his housemates has strengthened their friendships.

"We were all acquaintances before," he said. "We've gotten a lot closer now.

Guinn is sharing the house with sophomores Xantha Bruso, Claire Hibbs, John Kaufmann, Laura Sigman and Amy Thomas.