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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
May 6, 2024
Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
May 6, 2024
Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
May 6, 2024

S&B Cribs: Meet the Residents of 1126 Broad St.

The residents of 1126 Broad St. Back row, left to right: Sarah Cannon, Keli Vitaioli, Leah Harris. Front row, left to right: Moya Roarty, Megan Tcheng. Photo by Liz Paik.

In a charmingly dilapidated house just off campus, Keli Vitaioli, Megan Tcheng, Moya Roarty, Leah Harris, Sarah Cannon and Candace Mettle, all ’19, have made a home together. Affectionately referred to as the “Corn Phallus” or “Phallus Palace” due to its distinctive cupola, the 19th century six-bedroom home has withstood the tests of time, fire and tornadoes.

Since their humble beginnings living in Clark Pit as first years, the six friends have always known that they wanted to live together. In fact, Vitaioli said, “This house makes sense as an extension of the Pit.” Besides its well-loved quality, the convenient location to both campus and High Street is ideal for the house-mates. Instead of being forced into a wild lifestyle, 1126 Broad Street can choose to opt in or out of parties (although they often opt in).

Seated around the kitchen table, the housemates recalled some of their best times together. At one point, Harris reached behind her and pulled a matted, blonde Kurt Cobain wig from the slit between the refrigerator and wall, which, she said, had been on the ground under the fridge since Halloween. The wig, however, is not the only surprise a visitor to the house would find on the ground.

When walking into the house, it seems almost as if the floor is concave. “All I can say is our living room floor is broken,” said Vitaioli. “Who knows how it got that way. Maybe we never will. But it is really fun to roll beer cans down [it].”

“It’s also a fun trampoline,” Harris added, still gently stroking the wig.

Cannon admitted that even though an outsider might find the structural condition of the house concerning, the floor is “very low to the ground, so if someone fell through they’d have a fun story to tell.”

I don’t think it’s spiritually a bad idea to remove Brenda … I think it’s more of a bad idea to touch a dead animal that even the turkey vultures that circle the campus will not eat.

Keli Vitaioli ’19

Life at 1126 hasn’t been all fun and games for the housemates. Last summer, on Harris’s birthday, the house caught on fire. Luckily, the building was able to be restored, but the situation was stressful nonetheless. The cause of the fire is still technically unknown, but the Grinnell Fire Department, for whom the friends have “a new respect,” was able to save the historically and culturally significant cupola.

Between temporary renters and permanent residents, the building is rarely quiet. Besides the six college friends, animals including possums, raccoons and mice (not to mention flies) all claim the house as their territory. While they were able to get rid of the possums under the bathtub, the housemates haven’t been able to fully rid themselves of the presence of their “pets.”

When the snow melted this spring, the residents of 1126 found the petrified, frozen body of a squirrel, which they dubbed Brenda. They have, however, not touched or moved the body.

“I don’t think it’s spiritually a bad idea to remove Brenda,” Vitaioli said. “I think it’s more of a bad idea to touch a dead animal that even the turkey vultures that circle the campus will not eat.”

Even if the squirrel carcass is eventually removed, though, visitors will still be able to recognize the house by its signature pair of mannequin legs on the back porch and the Mrs. Potato Head figure hanging over one of the sinks.

When asked, the housemates agreed that their favorite place to spend time in the house is sitting around the kitchen table together.

For its residents, 1126 provides something the dorms never could. “It’s definitely a home base in a way that dorms can’t provide or offer,” said Roarty. “It feels like a home, versus a room that’s just an extension of campus. It’s nice to have that place to come back to so you don’t feel like your whole life is on campus.”

“I love to cook for myself and step back a little bit from the dining hall,” said Tcheng. “You know, purchase ingredients, go grocery shopping, pretend that I’m an adult.”

As Harris said, the housemates love their home “despite all its imperfections.” (Or, as Tcheng put it, they consider it “a place to live.”)

There is one unresolved conflict in the house: its name. As a form of retaliation against its phallus-centric past, the friends dubbed 1126 Broad Street the “Pussy Palace.” However, the name remains a controversial topic, due to the fact that Harris and Cannon consider themselves “dog people,” and Roarty is allergic to cats. So, at least for now, the “Pussy Palace” will have to stick to squirrels, possums and raccoons.

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