Past Senior House

Last updated April 3, 1995

The Senior House is just one name that the MIT dormitory at 4 Ames St. has been known by since its construction in 1918. Over the years, it has served as the Institute's first dormitory and on-campus fraternity, a mixed undergraduate and graduate dorm, an all-graduate facility, a senior house, and even military housing during the Second World War before assuming its current role as an undergraduate residence.

Senior House is something of an enigma at MIT: a place steeped in history in an Institute focused on the future, not the past. Senior House's past survives not by formal history but by legend and story. But now, with the eve of its first major renovations since its original construction at hand, Senior House is about to enter a new era as a residence of student lives. The plan of the new Senior House will be built on the needs of the present, hopes for the future, and a sense of the past.

This collection of images, compiled from the MIT annual Technique beginning with the 1918 edition and from other sources, is meant as a way to tell part of the story of Senior House. It also serves as a reminder of how quickly time passes and how soon history can be forgotten. Perhaps bits and pieces of the past that these images narrate will be reborn in the structure and spirit of the new Senior House.

This collection would be untrue to the spirit of Senior House if it were static, unchanging, or complete. No one source of images or words can capture and convey the stories of the thousands of lives this place has touched, and this one currently emphasizes architecture and early history of the dorm. This collection of pictures and legends will grow as more images are put on-line. The digitization process it an ongoing effort. We hope you'll help us tell the story with your own images and recollections.

Plans and construction: 1918-1920

The 1920's

The 1930's and 40's

Independent Senior House: 1950-1964

Steer Roast is born: the mid-1960's

Mark the Shark and Sport Death: the 1970's