Currier Hall

Revision as of 00:36, March 6, 2006 by 06djl (talk | contribs) (Fun Facts)

Currier is a dormitory on the Berkshire Quad, unique both in architecture and traditional inhabitants. Three floors rise above ground and one, despite being called the basement, is below ground on the quad side but opens into air on all other sides. It is one of the core Odd Quad buildings, in that, along with Fitch, it traditionally houses upperclassmen of the Deviant and WARP culture type, and others who enjoy their company.

As all dorms of the Berkshire Quad, Currier is served primarily by the Driscoll dining hall.


For Currier floor plans, see WSO/plans' Currier page.

The Top Three Floors

To a bird's eye, Currier is shaped like a blocky "C", with its arms opening east. Windows offer views in all directions, and the Currier 3rd floor rooms with a vista towards the mountains probably have the most beautiful views on campus. The west side of the building features a view of beautiful Berkshire Quad, and three balconies accessed by large French windows on the second floor. The outer two of these balconies attach to common rooms, but the center has the distinction of adjoining Currier C21.

The idiosyncratic layout of Currier's interior gives rise to some strange features. Two very large stairwells of slate steps that provide access from the first to third floor occupy a large volume of the space inside. The stairwells divide Currier into north, center, and south suites, with about six rooms on each of these suites. The north- and south-west corner rooms are quite coveted for their size, light, and views of the quad.

The common areas on the top three floors are the negative space amidst the odd positioning of Currier's rooms. The center halls of the second and third floors have no common space of their own at all; the first has an enormous room that is typically the house gathering space. On the north and south ends of the buildings, common areas take a different shape depending on the floor. The second floor's are quite awkward, and defy description. See the plan here, or just imagine a rectangular room with a big bite taken out of the top.

The Basement

For most dorms, it is not worth writing a seperate section for a seperate floor of the building, but Currier basement is one of a kind, and is isolated almost entirely from the floors above. The only way to get from the basement to another floor without exiting and reentering the building is via a treacherous spiral staircase running from the garbage room on the first floor to a landing in the center of the basement. Residents of upper floors carrying loads of laundry have a tough choice between the hassle of picking down the spiraling stairs, whose metal surfaces are more like rungs than steps, or leaving the building quadside and reentering through the center door.

The crown jewel of the basement is, without a doubt, the ballroom, which deserves its own section below.

Rooms in Currier are high-ceilinged and generally large, with the most coveted facing north and featuring balconies that, unfortunately, nearly abut Route 2. Champion among basement quarters is B11, the gargantuan double in the northwest corner, which has an old (sealed) fireplace above which is fixed a large stone face.

The Ballroom

Occupying the lion's share of Currier's basement is its ballroom, a one-of-a-kind social space on the Williams campus. After Goodrich Hall, the ballroom is probably the second most booked space on campus for social and arts events, and it has played host to all manner of activity.

From the center door facing the Berkshire Quad, a grand staircase sweeps down into the basement, pausing on a landing to offer a glimpse of the ballroom through a semi-circular window. To the left lies remainder of the descent to the ballroom door. Inside is a space like none other on campus: a throw rug covers the middle of the floor, and, if all has not been moved aside for the night's revelry, on it sits an enormous wooden table surrounded by high-backed, plush-cushioned chairs. In the far corner is one of the campus's few grand pianos, which I have heard is kept in relatively good tune.

A large skylight once spanned nearly all of the ballroom's ceiling; alas, for concerns about its integrity it has long had black platforms laid over it so that you would not even notice this feautre unless you knew to look. During daytime, however, large french windows along the east wall cast ample light across the room to mirrors on the far wall designed to mimic their transparant sisters. Even the real windows, however, offer no relief from clammy air during a hot dance: they are alarmed and cannot be opened without special dispensation from Security (which can be obtained by prior arragment, and is worth it for dances and hot days).

The ballroom has seen it all; events of all kinds that Williams students have dreamed up over the years, and every year student groups clamor to reserve the space for more. Arguments between those with scheduling control over the space (currently House Coordinators) and those who wish to use it have flared in the past, as the ballroom is a space that the campus depends on, but inhabitants of Currier are frequently of a mind to control its use, as noise from events are quite audible to the basement rooms. Thus does Currier's ballroom find herself building a history of torrid flings with events of all persuasions, but always the loyal mother of the Odd Quad, true to them in her own way.

Some events known to have taken place in the ballroom are listed below:

  • Perennial plays and one-acts by Cap and Bells, the student theater organization.
  • Before it got large enough to need Goodrich Hall, Queer Bash was held in the ballroom.
  • Occasional contradances, especially the Valentine's Day and Halloween Contradance, which benefit from the ballroom ambiance.
  • Sarah! Croft '04 gathered actors to perform a number of murder mysteries -- some of which were her original works -- that unfolded in the ballroom, to the delight of the Deviants and other friends.
  • A resident of Currier held a private party, notable for a hired stripper, during the Fall 2003 -- and got away with it.
  • A duel of honor, by epee, took place here between John Mugno '05 and Gavin McCormick '05 after the Valentine's Day Contradance of spring 2004. John won by a touch.


By class year, Currier is probably the most diverse house on campus, both because of its range of quality of room and the range of reasons that drive people to live there. On the one hand, some of Currier's rooms are first rate, desirable for purely their own sake. On the other, Currier has a recent history of being Odd Quad in nature, and Odd Quadders have been willing to live in any kind of squalor to be near each other, quite willing to take the less desirable center rooms in Currier for the quad's unique social scene.

Though Currier has earned a reputation as the younger Odd Quad dorm (sophomores and juniors to Currier, seniors to Fitch and Prospect crow's nests, it always holds a large number of people from other social groups. The layout of Currier, with its many fire doors and stairwells that strongly divide the space, allow for a a compartmentalization of groups if those groups will it, while spaces such as the ballroom and first floor common room allow larger bodies to meet.

Currier's residents have made their dorm the primary home for these activities in the past and present:

  • Bridge Club, which enjoyed a renaissance of players in early 2004.
  • Chocoholics, chocolate eating society that has bounced between Currier and Fitch since its founding by Rachelle Hassan '03.
  • Storytime. Never a club, but a regular meeting of students who would gather to hear Chris Holmes '03 read a tale from the balcony of his room C 21, which he had traded with Nina Trautman '03 to get specifically for the purpose of storytime. Chris would later join with Jesse Dill '04 to found the Deviants, and the storytimers were the first core members of the group.
  • WARP. It was once faily commonplace for Currier to spew bop-sworders out onto the quad to make battle, and the ballroom was an ideal site for WARP's LARPs (live action role play).

Fun Facts

  • With two bathrooms and about 18 residents per first-through-third floor, Currier features the highest resident/bathroom ratio on campus.
  • The roof of the Currier Ballroom is the easiest to access on campus. Climb through the window of the spiral staircase room and there you are! Great for a house party, sunbathing, and making a snow sculpture in a strange place for (half) your dormmates to see.