Although EphBlog does not intend to spend an absurb amount of time on the Houses of Hogwarts and their relationship to the new Neighborhoods of Williams, we do want to give the topic a definitive treatment. Alas, this looks like it will require a lot more work than we have already put in. EphBlog accepts the challenge! This also provides an excuse to revisit two books that every Eph should have close to hand: Mark Hopkins and the Log by former Professor of History Fred Rudolph ’42 and Reflections on the Architecture of Williams College by Professor of Art Whitney Stoddard ’35.

To review, let us start with the attributes of the houses as listed by Wikipedia and some of the key structures/histories of the Williams neighborhoods to which these attributes might imply.

Hufflepuff is the most inclusive among the four houses, valuing hard work and patience, loyalty and friendship, and justice and fair play rather than a particular aptitude in its members.

Gryffindor values courage, chivalry and boldness.

Slytherin values ambition and cunning.

Ravenclaw values intelligence, knowledge, and wit.

Currier (i.e., the Berkshire Quad) is simply the only choice for Hufflepuff. For the last 20 years at least, it has been known as the Odd Quad, easily the most inclusive collection of residences at Williams, filled with Ephs willing and able to accept each other as they are. This tradition of inclusiveness goes back more than 75 years, to the era of the Garfield Club — the eating facility for the men refused admittance to the fraternity system or unwilling to enter it.

But the other three houses are much trickier, despite my excessively facile answers of yesterday. Perhaps we need is some help from Guy Creese ’75, whose thesis on the concept of the gentleman at Williams must be relevant to this discussion. In any event, here are some of the most important aspects of the three remaining neighborhoods.

1) Dodd. Although the history of Dodd House does not suggest anything sinister, I am still leaning toward Slytherin, if only because it seems like Gryffindor and Ravenclaw belong elsewhere. In addition to our prior claims about Dodd being the “prep” area 20 years ago, note that the Sytherin Quidditch Team is all male. Historians of Williams housing history will recall that perhaps the original “breakdown” — depending on your point of view — of free agency was when Tyler Annex became almost completely male helmet-sport athletes. (We still need to identify the Eph who came up with the idea of using the option of “squatting” to create a virtual fraternity. History needs to know his name!) If the Dodd Neighborhood is Slytherin than Tyler Annex is its Quidditch team.

2) The Spencer Neighborhood includes Mark Hopkins and Bryant (from the Greylock Quad), Morgan, West, Spencer (Chi Psi) and Brooks (Delta Kappa Epsilon).

Spencer is probably the best bet for Ravenclaw, although the evidence is not as strong as for Dodd, much less Currier. For example, it is beyond dispute that “courage, chivalry and boldness” were more important in the DKE House of yore than “intelligence, knowledge and wit.” (Sorry, Dad!) But, since the DKE House burned down in 1959, we can safely ignore this contra-indication.

More important to our efforts is the role of the Adelphic Union and its two sub-parts (the Philologian and Philotechnian Societies) to the initial history of Williams.

The Adelphic Union split into the Philologian and Philotechnian Societies when it outgrew its quarters in West College in 1795/6. The Philologian and Philotechnian were created due to the Union’s increased size, not because the two societies subscribed to different ideals. According to the 1883 revised edition of the Philologian constitution: “The object of this society shall be the literary improvement of its members.” The object of the Philotechnian Society, as stated in the 1873 version of its constitution, was: “…the intellectual culture of its members.”

Given that West is now a part of the Spencer Neighborhood, one might make a strong case for Spencer as Ravenclaw, with its emphasis on “intelligence, knowledge, and wit.” This is further emphasized by the vision of Mark Hopkins on one end of the log as well as by the inclusion of the poet (William Cullen) Bryant as one of the houses.

The most subtle bit of history concerns the Sigma Phi fraternity that used to be located where Morgan is today. See also the controversy over the construction of Sawyer Library. I am not sure if this tale is of use in our classificantion efforts.

3) The Wood Neighborhood includes Perry (Alpha Delta Phi), Wood (Zeta Psi), Garfield (Delta Upsilon) and Agard (Delta Phi) along with Carter and Gladden from the Greylock Quad. Having established the identity of the other three neighborhoods, all that is left for Wood is Gryffindor. Given that it is clearly the most fraternity-heavy of the four neighborhoods, this is not an unreasonable classification. Whatever else may be said about the fraternities, they did not put an emphasis on inclusion (as with Hufflepuff) or on intelligence (as with Ravenclaw). Viewed charitably, they certainly valued “courage, chivalry and boldness.”

And so we are done. In summary and in order of surety:

Currier == Hufflepuff
Spencer == Ravenclaw
Dodd == Slytherin
Wood == Gryffindor

Upon reflection, it would seem that the evidence for Spencer as Ravenclaw is better than that for Dodd as Slytherin.

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