Students inhabit local Crack House: The Rock, Blue Zoo and Hammer Hut also filled with students

by Jeffrey Tanenhaus | 10/22/98 5:00am

Just like any other urban mecca, Hanover has its seedy sections of town. The local "Crack House" is testament to that fact.

"It really looks like a crack house," resident Derek Soller '00 explained. "We have broken windows and empty panes, exposed wires, huge holes in the walls, half- painted and -carpeted rooms, bathrooms without ventilation, and a dirt-floor basement stacked with old toilets and chemical containers."

But Soller said the basement is the territory of the landlord. He said, "It's the dankest place you've ever seen -- it's perfect for growing mushrooms."

It sounds like it is in shambles, but is it really a crack house?

Actually, the name does not derive from any illegal activities, but rather from a mortified Southern father's response to his son's living conditions in the early '90s. Students have been calling it the Crack House ever since.

The Hanover Fire Department makes frequent visits to the Crack House. Gas leaks and the recovery of hazardous chemicals in the basement prompted the closing of the Crack House this summer.

On Tuesday night of this week, the Fire Department evacuated residents who had smelled heating oil. Firefighters equipped with air masks discovered the basement was engulfed in thick, gray smoke billowing from the furnace. The furnace also leaked carbon monoxide.

Soller said, "All of us were a little scared because if there had just been a carbon monoxide leak, we wouldn't have known and by the morning we would have been dead."

As to why humans would wish to inhabit the Crack House, Soller said, "It has character. We have lots of space for a comparatively low rent."

"It's not a crack house, it's a crack home," Soller said.

Another architectural wonder is the "Blue Zoo," a five-bedroom condo housing six Kappa Kappa Gamma sisters on West Wheelock Street. Prior to 1996, the house was externally painted a bright blue with inside doors the same hue.

"It was a really hideous blue," current resident Allison Brugg '99 said. "The zoo part just rhymes with blue."

Yet the house is now white, with only the vestigial front door remaining blue.

Another resident, Elizabeth Serrill '99, said she likes the location, since many other seniors live nearby. Also, she said, "We have a huge common area where all six of us can crash as well as a deck with a barbecue for warmer weather."

Away from College bustle is "The Rock," traditionally affiliated with the Dartmouth Outing Club. The nickname originates from a comic book and its location on Sergeant street. According to Greg Miller '99, "Sergeant Rock was a comic book about a burly guy whom we all aspire to be."

The Rock often fields a number of Safety and Security phone calls because it shares the last four digits of its phone number with S & S. Miller said, "About half our calls are for S&S. We get waken up in the middle of the night, but it's fun to ask students for their ID numbers." Equally confused are people that think The Rock is the Rockefeller Center.

The Rock features a porch and an old-fashioned tub. Miller said, "We are wary of filling the tub because we never know when it might fall through to the basement."

The Rock residents said they strive to maintain harmonious relations with their neighbors and the environment as well as place a premium on recycling. Student-occupied since 1980, The Rock's statement of purpose reads, "[our house] is superior to anything the College provides for half the price."

The seven who live there call The Rock "paradise." A collection of memorabilia is stored in the attic and basement while eclectic street signs, including a discarded wooden "Welcome to Hanover" sign, adorn the walls.

An epithet of obvious derivation is the "Hammer Hut" or "Ax Alley," located above the True Value store in downtown Hanover. Resident deRaismes Combes '99 said, "The location is great. We are equidistant from any food and video place and are close to campus."

The apartment houses three ultimate frisbee players. The hammer throw, a type of frisbee toss, also confirms the name of this house.