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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

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A brief history of 1008 High St.

The five friends currently living in 1008 High St. have had their hearts set on this particular house for awhile. From left: Rose Caplan, Evan Hurst, Jacob Molho, Fiona George and Clara Dingle. Photo by Kaya Matsuura.

A picturesque snowy nature scene with a deer and a dog in the foreground, the dog with flames erupting from its mouth – all while an alien spaceship hovers over the landscape – this is the painting discovered in a closet of 1008 High St. by its current occupants: Rose Caplan, Evan Hurst, Clara Dingle and Jacob Molho, all class of ’21, as well as their summer tenant Fiona George who will be replaced by James Coffey ’21 starting in F2. Besides being an interesting piece of wall art, the painting tracks the history of the house, as it is tradition for the student residents of 1008 to add to the painted scene each year.

For the housemates, living in 1008 was always the plan. While it isn’t unusual for students to plan their off-campus housing a year in advance, the housemates at 1008 went the extra mile by signing their lease in the spring of their second year. “We had to act really early because, obviously, there were multiple people trying to get the house,” Hurst said.

“I knew the house had wood floors and was very nice. So, I was like yeah, we should go for 1008,” said Molho.

“I’d think it was the cutest house on the street,” Hurst said, thinking back to walking down High St. as a second year.

“We also knew that it was like the nicest [house] because the pipes burst a few years back and everything got redone,” added Caplan.

This painting, discovered in a closet by the current inhabitants of 1008 High St., serves as a visual history of all Grinnell students that have lived in the house. Photo contributed by Rose Caplan.

The shiny floors and new plumbing were not the house’s only draw. Molho was also friends with the fourth years who lived in 1008 two years ago. When he and the others moved in, they found the legacy of Grinnell students past manifested in a plethora of furniture, posters, fireworks and other seemingly random junk left behind by past inhabitants. Out of this assortment, the housemates discovered their new kitchenware and some quirky wall decorations, as well as nightly entertainment in the form of two beer die tables inscribed with the names of past students who have, at some point, passed through 1008.

“I think this was actually after the derecho hit,” Caplan remembered. “We were cooking on a campfire in the backyard because none of our electric items worked, and we brought out the basket full of fireworks.” Surprisingly, the fireworks all worked, and a token of 1008’s past was able to bring its current residents closer together in a time of instability.

With such rich history, the students living in 1008 each year inevitably leave their mark on the place. The current housemates have not yet settled on the exact personality of the house in their care. Several names have been considered, though none have quite stuck. “First, we named ourselves the ‘Women’s Tennis House’ … ‘The Cabbage, Garlic and Onion House’ … and then just like ‘This is a Really Gay House,’” Caplan said.

While these descriptors run the gamut of the housemates’ personalities and interests, “Cabbage, Garlic and Onion House” arose from one of the strongest traditions developed since everyone moved into 1008.

“We define ourselves by our cooking because Clara and I are always cooking for the house,” Caplan said.

“And also,” Dingle added, “Rose works at the [Grinnell College] Garden, so she’s always bringing back chard and different veggies, which just inform our cooking more because we have all these vegetables and depending on what they are, we have to figure out how to use them.”

“It’s nice to have that collective presence,” Evan said of the nightly cooking sessions and the way they bring everyone together after hours of working alone throughout the house.

First, we named ourselves the ‘Women’s Tennis House’ … ‘The Cabbage, Garlic and Onion House’ … and then just like ‘This is a Really Gay House’ – Rose Caplan ’21

Other traditions have cropped up over the last few months, including group outings to the laundromat where the housemates play card games to while away the time, Sunday morning house cleaning sessions and studying together in the dining room.

“The dining room is where people go not for [online] classes, but to work,” Hurst said.

Dingle does most of her class work at the dining room table, stating that “I’m just so much more productive when I work next to people than when I work alone.”

“I don’t have a desk,” Molho said, “and even if I [did], I don’t have space for it in my room [and] doing history readings in your bed is pretty deadly, … so I do my work at the dinner table.” Caplan is more likely to be found studying in her room, but Hurst also likes to do classwork in the dining room.

“All of us like to decorate, but we all decorate differently,” Hurst said. Hurst added that he and Dingle have the most similar styles: “I’m more of like old gay grandpa, Clara is like middle-aged Midwestern eccentric farmhouse type.”

Dingle described her space as cluttered but comfy. “There are just no surfaces that aren’t covered and/or at least partially taken up by small cat figurines.”

Hurst personally likes a lot of different colors and patterns, which he incorporates into the room decor by bringing his brightest and most vibrant shirts to the front of his open closet, which immediately brightens up the room. “The general color [of the room] is red,” he said, listing strawberry string lights, a vivid tapestry and more red lights as other items that add to the room’s warm atmosphere. “I love when I’m walking in the backyard at night and … there’s just like a red glow emanating from my room.”

From a recent green hair dying session, to a purple cabbage thrown at the wall, the housemates of 1008 have literally left their mark. While not a traditional way to record history, the house tells a story of Grinnell students few could find anywhere else.

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Nadia Langley
Nadia Langley, Editor in Chief
Nadia Langley is a fourth year majoring in history and French. Her favorite historical French quote is: "Literally I didn't say that, that's so cray," -- Marie Antoinette, 1793.
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