• For seven decades, Old Ashdown House, left, was home to graduate students. In fall 2011, the building will reopen as Maseeh Hall, MIT's newest and largest residence for undergraduates, right.

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A look back at Old Ashdown in all its (quirky) glory

Before it was Maseeh Hall, and before it was W1, this historic building was home to generations of graduate students.

In fall 2011, Maseeh Hall will open as MIT's newest and largest undergradute dormitory. As part of the Student Life "Today in Maseeh Hall" series, MIT freshman Jessica Fujimori takes a look at this building's history as the longtime residence for the Institute's graduate students.

It was home to mice and roaches and fish and grad students. Its heaters leaked and its stairs creaked and its floors splintered into residents’ feet. It was old and rundown, and it was home.

W1, previously called Ashdown House, is a distinctively old and grand-looking building, complete with cupolas, clocktower and turrets overlooking the Charles River at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Memorial Drive. Once the Riverbank Court Hotel, built in 1901 and bought by MIT in 1937, Ashdown became the second graduate dorm in the country when it opened in the fall of 1938.

Now, more than seven decades later, the graduate community of Ashdown has settled into its new home in NW35, the so-called New Ashdown. They moved from the original Ashdown in 2008. The “Old Ashdown” is undergoing major renovations and will open in fall 2011 as an undergraduate dorm, newly dubbed Maseeh Hall, thanks to Fariborz Maseeh ScD ’90, whose $24 million dollar gift prompted the Institute to complete construction.

To its former graduate residents, however, the dorm remains Old Ashdown. They remember it with a smile and laugh that is part nostalgia, part good-natured ridicule ...

Read the rest of the story on the Student Life news blog:

Topics: Alumni/ae, Campus buildings and architecture, Graduate, postdoctoral, History of MIT, Residential life, Student life


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