Dunster is one of the twelve undergraduate Harvard Houses, which serve as the foundation for the undergraduate residential experience. Each House accommodates 350-500 students and includes a dining hall, common rooms, and facilities for academic, recreational, and social activities. The central goal of the Houses is forging a link between living and learning, and the House system cultivates a wide-range of intellectual and social traditions and events.
Dunster houses approximately 400 students and 25 residential staff members. It's non-residential community includes staff, Senior Common Room members, and affiliates, who all help make Dunster House a home to its undergraduates. In addition to its beautiful "Harry Potter" dining hall and elegant library, Dunster hosts several music practice rooms, an art studio, a student kitchen, a late-night student-run grille, a gym and squash court, and a smart classroom. The House meanwhile offers a robust sophomore academic advising program, regularly scheduled pre-professional and specialty advising events, and a variety of social events including Open Houses, formal dances, study breaks, music concerts, intramural sports, student-faculty dinners, and student outings, among many others.
Dunster is located on the banks of the Charles River, next to the John W. Weeks Footbridge. The tower of Dunster House is inspired by the famous Big Tom Tower of Christ Church, Oxford. Above the east wing is the Dunster family crest. Dunster’s mascot is the moose, inspired by the three golden elk on the Dunster family crest.
Looking back and its long history, Dunster House is one of the first two dormitories constructed under President Lowell’s House Plan, and one of the seven Houses gifted to Harvard by Edward Stephen Harkness. The House was named in honor of Henry Dunster, who became the first President of Harvard College at the age of thirty-one, immediately after his arrival in the Colony of Massachusetts Bay in 1640. He held the office during the early years of the Colony, and left the College in 1654 after it had become a well-established institution. The House was completed in 1930 and began operations in the fall of that year under the leadership of Master Chester N. Greenough, English Professor and former Dean of Harvard College.
Famous inhabitants of Dunster House have included Al Gore and Tommy Lee Jones, who were roommates in the late 1960s. Other notable Dunster alumni include Norman Mailer, Caspar Weinberger, and Deval Patrick. For many years Dunster was reputed to have the highest grade-point average (GPA) of any house.
Learn more about Dunster's rich history and check out the House's weekly newsletters by exploring the About subtabs.