I was in awe at the sheer size of Main House when I first arrived at Vassar. It towered over me, and I was shocked that this elegant building would soon become my new home. According to the Vassar College website, when Vassar opened in 1865, Main housed almost the entire college including students, faculty, the library, classrooms and even an art gallery. Now, Main is home to over 300 students, the College Center and two dining options.
Though this dorm comes with its pros and cons, I’m happy that I get to live here. In this review I will reveal the charming and less-appealing aspects of living in Main Building.
The residential area of Main has less of a college-dorm feel, with its spacious rooms and high ceilings. The wide hallways and old distinguished windows also align with the building’s historic charm.
Though there are beautiful spots, some of the living conditions in Main, especially on the fourth floor, are not ideal. Many of the fourth floor ceilings are suffering from water damage and some of the ceilings are leaking; the ceiling in my dorm is an example of the former.
Other less-than ideal conditions include the wide hallways of the third and fourth floors, which contain old rugged carpets and a musty smell. Additionally, the stairs are extremely echoey, so it’s easy to hear people walking on them. This is worsened by the fact that the walls are also thin, which can get especially annoying when people decide to blast music on weeknights.
Despite dismal conditions, Main has ample space for gathering with friends and fun hang-out spaces. I personally find that living on the third floor is incredibly convenient since it includes the laundry room, TV room, kitchen and multipurpose room. The TV room is a fun, air-conditioned space to spend time with friends, watch a movie or do work. In addition, Main includes two dining options, Express and The Retreat, so students don’t have to step outside to get food.
The quality of bathrooms in Main varies considerably. On some of the lower floors, the showers have curtains instead of doors that lock. In the center bathroom on the fourth floor, there are two showers that face each other with nothing but curtains in between. Turning off the shower can prove stressful; it’s hard to live in fear of someone opening your curtain since they don’t hear the water. Also, in some of the toilets on the third floor, the water gets higher after each flush. Some have even overflowed a few times.
However, stepping into the fifth floor of Main is like walking into a completely different dorm. The fifth floor, which was renovated this previous summer, feels and looks like a hotel. The hallways gleam with a fresh coat of paint and the water fountains have filtered cool water and a sensor to fill up bottles. But the best part of this floor is the brand new bathrooms: They are large and gorgeous. There are plenty of stalls and showers with doors that lock and the freshly painted walls and smooth floors make me feel as if I’m showering in luxury.
Another more glamorous part of Main is the Rose Parlor, which has gorgeous red couches, rose-colored wallpaper and white columns. This beautiful common area has elegant windows with a view of Vassar’s main gate and the library. It is a wonderful place where students can study or hang out. It is also home to a piano that is available for students to use.
Despite Main being the oldest building on campus, it’s definitely a fun dorm to live in. On Friday or Saturday nights there are usually groups of people chatting in the hallways, as well as events in the Villard Room or the Rose Parlor. From outside, people can see strobe lights in certain dorms, there’s music echoing through the hallways and friends are constantly stopping by each other’s rooms.
I would give Main House three out of five stars. Although the building has its share of flaws, the Rose Parlor is an amazing place to study and I know I’ll be relieved in the winter when I won’t have to leave my dorm to get breakfast. I’m happy to call this quirky old place my home.