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The Scarlet & Black

The Fantasy Suite: A pretty unique house

By Philip Kiely

A large house, the multicolored exterior adorned with massive polka dots, stands at 1007 East Street, is home to Claudia Handal, Alosha Southern, Lauren Toppeta, Hameed Weaver, Sam Burt, Lily Ge and Ella Gensheimer, all ’17. The seven friends have known each other since first year and decided to live together in Grinnell’s most colorful house.

“I remember coming to this house my first year with Alosha [Southern] because we were both on the cross country team, and I know I definitely fell in love with the house, just because of how big it is, and … the outside, there’s tons of colors and there’s the polka dots,” Handal said. “It’s a pretty unique house in Grinnell, and in the world … So that really attracted me to the house, and the fact that it’s able to fit up to seven people.”

The seven friends came together person by person and eventually ended up living together.

“In terms of how we all got to live together, it’s … Lily [Ge] and I went to the same high school, so we’ve been friends since high school, and then first year Ella and Claudia were roommates, and then Ella and I were in the same tutorial, and then Claudia and I were on the cross country team,” Southern said.

“Claudia and Sam Burt went to high school together, and Claudia and I did the same pre-orientation program together … we all just kind of found each other,” Toppeta said.

The group dynamic is very relaxed.

“I’ve heard [this house] described as ‘a bunch of chill people who live together,’ and I would definitely agree with that,” Handal said.

The seven residents of 1007 East street pose outside their house.

In addition to housing the residents, the house has served as the setting for some bonding moments.

“There were two friends of ours that were ‘house-roughing’ in Sam Burt’s room, which is the only downstairs room … they roughed the house … They were in there without Sam Burt’s permission, or supervision, and a window got kicked out, with a foot, and the window was not repaired for six weeks,” Handal said.

The group made the best of the situation.

“Something good that did come out of that is that then Sam Burt constructed a fort above his bed, and we all piled inside of it at once … Ella was not there but the rest of us piled inside of Sam Burt’s room and it was really cute and it is one of my fond memories of this house,” Toppeta said.

Although there are only seven bedrooms, the house has nine residents. The eighth made his presence known in December.

“I was downstairs by myself and I was about to go up to my room and then, out of the corner of my eye, I see this little grey blob dart across the kitchen floor,”

Southern said. “I screamed really loudly … it was just a mouse. We haven’t found the mouse yet … so I guess he’s technically our eighth resident, until we kill him.”

The ninth resident is even more mysterious.

“We keep getting notifications from the sheriff’s department saying that someone [lives at the house and]… that if he doesn’t report back to the sheriff, that the sheriff is going to come to our house,” Toppeta said. “But we have no idea who this person is, so maybe the sheriff will just show up one day … the notifications have been coming since 2013.”

Despite this, the house is not as spooky as many other off-campus houses.

“This is one of the less-haunted houses in Grinnell. Some of the off-campus houses definitely have a spooky feeling to them … or are definitively haunted,” Toppeta said.

In all, the seven seniors are glad to be living together.

“I definitely prefer living off campus to living on campus for [the] kitchen, and it’s just much more relaxed feeling, but we’re more disconnected from campus life in some ways, which is all right, since we’re all fourth years, but there definitely is a big difference from living on campus,” Gensheimer said.

“Sometimes it’ll be 10 p.m. on a Tuesday night and it feels like there’s a slumber party upstairs,” Handal said.

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