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The Scarlet & Black

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Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
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Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
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Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
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S&B Cribs: French House and French ghosts

By Tommy Lee

A short walk past the John Chrystal Center along Park Street takes one to French House, located at 1019 Park St. Its residents are Cinthia Romo ’21, Annie Levin ’19, Emily Rhodes ’19, Rafael Monteforte ’21, Montserrat Castro ’21, Jackson Ferguson ’21, Anita Hill ’21, Virginia Haverstick ’21, Imany Noel ’20, Emma Foulkes ’19 and Mario Bortolo ’19.

Residents of French House must meet specific requirements.

“There’s an application process in the French department,” said Rhodes. “So, most of us are students of French who are interested in, you know, living in a French environment.”

“Some of us are just interested in the French culture, but we’re put together by our department, and our mission — I would say — is to host French events throughout the year, so we have a TV night every Wednesday, where we watch a French series if we can,” Rhodes said.

“I personally came here because I found out that these kind folks will be living here,” said Ferguson. “And I like French a lot. The house is very beautiful.”

Owned by the College, French House boasts a variety of characteristics that differentiate it from other off-campus residences available in Grinnell. As a house of comparatively large size, it hosts seven spacious rooms of unique layouts and eleven students who provide dynamism and liveliness in the space. 

“It feels like we live off campus, but we still have the perks of having people clean for us and stock our bathrooms, so it’s really good,” Rhodes said. 

French House is also connected to the Internet via the College, and unlike many of the other off-campus foreign language houses, is located away from the construction site near the Alumni Recitation Hall, eliminating concerns for disturbances outside the house. 

Other advantages include a free parking lot, a crêpe maker and the joy of cooking one’s own food. “I love cooking, so it’s really fun to have people over,” Levin said.

“We have a language assistant fellow, Claire Frances, who comes on Wednesday nights and cooks French foods for us,” said Castro.

Despite the advantages of French House, there is a drawback for the residents. “There’s no laundry!” said Levin. “So, you have to either walk to a dorm with the laundry or drive because it is difficult to walk with a large laundry basket. They should fix this.”

A distinct feature of French House is using French to communicate. While residents hail from various places around the world, including Brazil, England, Mexico and Missouri, French is usually the language that is spoken throughout the house.

“We talk in French, usually most of the time,” Monteforte said.

“I’m learning French in Duolingo,” Levin said. “Don’t put that on the article…Professor Frances will be really mad at me.” 

“Also, take the pick-up lines course for French in Duolingo, it’s so much fun,” Ferguson said to Levin. “It’s one of the additional ones they have, and it’s amazing. That was my favorite thing that I’ve ever done on Duolingo, because they are all horrible pick-up lines.”

The interview quickly took a supernatural turn, when the residents began unraveling the mysteries of a potential ghost in French House.

“And … the house is haunted,” Rhodes said.

“So, you know the locked door in the basement?” said Hill. “Have you guys been past the door that has a biohazard sign on it? Then there’s like three extra rooms that are really creepy and don’t have rooms and have lots of bugs, but there’s also one room that has a locked door that we can’t open with our keys, but there’s a hole in the wall that you could see into if you stand on someone’s shoulders, and we looked inside, and it literally had a desk and a projector on it.”

“That’s really, incredibly creepy,” Rhodes added.

“Maybe the ghost is like an immature film producer who really wants people to watch his films,” Ferguson said.

“Maybe it was a film major from the 80s who died,” Levin said.

While the existence of a ghost has not been confirmed, residents of French house are certainly entertained with the possibility. 

From left to right: Anita Hill ’21, Virgina Haverstick ’21, Jackson Ferguson ’21, Emily Rhodes ’19, Montserrat Castro ’21, Annie Levin ’19, Raphael Monteforte ’21 and Cinthia Romo ’21, part of the French House crew.
Photo by Tommy Lee
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