This weekend, as we attend Russell’s graduation, we also will enjoy our final stay (we think) at the Alumnae House at Vassar College. For the last four years, it has become a home-away-from-home for us whenever we visit the campus. Kish and I will miss coming here.
The Alumnae House has been around for more than 80 years, and it is one of those interesting, quirky places that you are happy to find and explore. It isn’t so much a hotel as a combination of diverse elements variously found in dormitories, hostels, and homes. The ground floor features large common rooms, including a kind of living room, a library, and a dining room. The upper floors include many different types of sleeping rooms that range from larger rooms with double beds to small rooms equipped with a simple single bed, a dresser, and a chair. You share bathrooms and shower rooms with your fellow guests, and as a result the whole place has a kind of gentle, friendly, communal feel to it. It’s hard to walk down the stairs of the Alumnae House in the morning without having a smile on your face.
The Alumnae House is an old building and is filled with the kinds of distinct touches that you would expect to find in an old building, like dark hardwood paneling and dark hardwood floors in the library, oil paintings, large fireplaces in the common rooms, tall windows and old-fashioned furnishings. In the upper floors the hallways to the sleeping quarters are lined with black-and-white photos of stern-faced women and female Vassar students of days gone by playing sports in improbable outfits that had to hinder athletic performance. The sleeping room areas include push-button light switches, wall sconce lamps, and glass doorknobs. It all reminds me of my grandmother’s old house in Akron, Ohio.
For a parent, the visits to campus become a big part of your view of your child’s college experience. The Alumnae House has always made our visits to Vassar more memorable.