Van Pelt Manor: 3909 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6004
"One of the smallest and coziest Houses"
Gregory College House, small in size, cozy in feel, immersive in academic focus and overflowing with events, is a time-tested and proudly idiosyncratic alternative to the larger College Houses.
Gregory is old in tradition but new in condition. Penn’s College House system was born in Van Pelt Manor and Class of 1925, the two matching 4-story buildings that make up Gregory; these innovative communities were the first to incorporate live-in faculty, to offer academic credit for living-learning programs, and to organize student-run computer support and student-spearheaded event calendars. Gregory received a full renovation in 2015, featuring elegant wings of public space consciously designed to enhance this rich legacy.
Gregory is also a unique mix of the private and the social; all residents, including freshmen, have their own bedroom and within-suite bathroom, affording them plenty of breathing space when they need it, but no community offers as many opportunities for students to hang out with their neighbors at regular social get-togethers. Gregory is not party central and would never want to be; it is an ideal community for students who value their space and study time, but love the idea of a lively environment–averaging close to 30 House-wide events every week! – where they can get to know just about everyone, including staff and faculty, not just for one year but potentially four. The blessing (or curse) of living in Gregory is the unending stream of eccentric emails about everything going on in the House that night. Not that our students aren’t always venturing out; Gregorians are as over-committed as any Penn student, taking part in a wide range of campus organizations, teams and performing arts groups, or simply the vibrant restaurant scene on the west end of campus, but they appreciate the fact that they will always have a family waiting for them when they get back home.
To walk through Gregory’s halls at night – any night – is to see this programmatic model in full swing. In the piano lounge of Van Pelt Manor you will likely see students dining with a visiting faculty member, either at our longstanding Dinner with Gregory speaker series or our new Diversity Discourse Across the Disciplines program, coordinated by Faculty Director Lisa Lewis; like all events at Gregory, these are intimate, casual get-togethers, an entirely different experience than in a classroom. Next door our state-of-the-art Cinema Lounge will be showing a classic film or contemporary blockbuster on its giant screen, with a staff member on hand for follow-up discussion. Gregorians will be chatting, eating, studying and playing board games along a hall of comfortable chairs, looking out at festive Spruce Street through floor-to-ceiling windows, or shooting billiards in the club room as their neighbors bake desserts in the adjoining kitchen.
Meanwhile, over in the Class of 1925 building participants in our Modern Languages Program will be conversing animatedly in Arabic in our spacious greenhouse, or in Spanish while making rice and beans, plantains, arepas, guacamole, and chicken with adobo in the adjacent kitchen, or in French while stretching in our yoga studio, or in Mandarin while discussing contemporary Chinese events over bubble tea, or in German while analyzing a screening of The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari… and then everyone will switch back to English to take a break for free coffee and a ping pong match at the Darkroom Café, or to gather for The Walking Dead in the TV lounge.
These students are a mix of all years and backgrounds. Gregory freshmen receive an ideal first year experience, surrounded by other new students on the top two floors of each building, with extra GAs and RAs on hand to ease their transition into a new environment. Gregory RAs are all juniors and seniors who have lived in the House since they were freshmen, and indeed most of the upperclassmen on the lower floors have been here for years, many taking advantage of opportunities to become active leaders in this tight-knit community, staffing the office and café, putting on a variety of regular events, running their own film series, and offering pointers on course selection, study habits and more.
But everyone from first year students to seniors come together in a hungry throng at weekly gatherings like Tuesday Bring Your Own Mug!, Wednesday study break and Sunday brunch, introduce themselves at our opening BBQ and karaoke, do some collective cooking for the International Dinner or Progressive Dinner, show off their talents at Open Mic and the Lucid Performing Arts Night, cheer or boo at the Oscar and Super Bowl parties, bond through adventure on paintball and whitewater rafting trips, flaunt their inner auteur during our 48 Hour student film festival, and never experience a night where they cannot find company. Our staff and faculty are always a part of this mix; Gregory has the best staff-to-student ratio on campus, and the individualized attention begins with Gregory Greets, a series of intimate yet informal faculty open houses, and continues at fun events like I Love TV, epic marathons of your favorite series and home-cooked comfort food.
Learning and culture is never divorced from the fun, however, and this is especially true in our Film Culture and Modern Languages residential programs, which offer five opportunities to receive academic credit within our walls, more than any other College House at Penn. But enrolling for credit – in Arabic, Cinema Studies, French, German or Spanish – is entirely optional; students can choose instead to participate for fun, whenever their busy schedules allow.