Who Runs the Burt House
by Kate Vanderstelt
It is a cold, windy night, and I am running from my house at the bottom of Manning Street a half a block up to the Burt House to visit the teammates I just saw at track practice three hours ago. I finished up homework for the night and didn’t want to spend an evening alone. Lucky for me, some of my best friends live less than a block away.
Thirty seconds after exiting my door, I prance up the white, wooden steps of the long lawn and come bursting through their door. I am welcomed by a small walkway through which I can see my teammates sitting on the old couches of the family room. On any given night you can expect the same thing: a group of guys sitting around the couches, one outstretched on a reclined chair, all smiles, and a nice little handwave when someone new walks in to join the gathering.
Many college teams have come through the house, which is owned by the same landlord as other off-campus college houses such as the Stables and the Lodge across the street. The previous residents consisted of a group of baseball boys, and now the house is run by some track athletes. The house is currently under construction to host even more off-campus students in years to come, leaving its current residents without enough members to fill it. But the men who have come through have loved every moment of the tight quarters together.
In his last semester as a college student, current resident Eli Poth reminisces on what the house has meant to him: “Burt House is a place unlike any other. Our close-packed home provides a medium for countless happenstances you could not get in an elephantine home. One feels the energy of this home upon walking through the door. Whether it’s the people or the stray cats, critics disagree on; but all agree on its exceptionalism.”
To show their appreciation for the home, they have hung a “history of the house” dedication in the archway between the kitchen and the family room. Many nights have been spent reading this depiction of the home and its culture. It starts: “Dr. Burt Burton was an assistant biology professor at Hillsdale College from 1938-1945. During his short teaching career, he became one of the student body’s most beloved professors for his quirky style and unorthodox concepts of biology.” This fake backstory to explain the name Burt House goes to show how the boys of the house take jokes to the extreme in the wittiest and classiest of manners.
Nights at the Burt House entail sitting around on couches, a multitude of music genres spilling out of the house speaker as the hours linger on, and intelligent conversations about anything from eugenics versus dysgenics to “Happy Death Day.” The boys’ humor, intellect, and personality are characteristic of the Burt House and draw visitors from all over off-campus. Whether it be from the intersection of Fayette and Oak, or just me running half a block up the icy sidewalk, the Burt House begins to depict the community that off-campus creates.
Kate Vanderstelt, ‘20, studies English and chemistry. She is an athlete on the Cross Country and Track and Field teams and a member of Chi Omega Fraternity.
Published in July 2019