Harvard is the oldest University in the United States of America. More or less. There are other folks who split hairs and could argue otherwise, but they’re wrong. Seriously, shut up, UPenn. (Right? Look it up on Wikipedia, and tell us they’re not splitting hairs.)
The elite status Harvard has earned over the years has come from extraordinary contributions by Boards of Governors, Harvard Presidents, accomplished alumni, and over 375 years of practice at running a school. As of 2011, their endowment was roughly $31 billion, and growing annually. Not a bad year’s work.
Much of this success is owed to Harvard presidents, both recent and long ago. Charles Eliot is a notable standout, having brought Harvard into the modern era, and creating the model of collegiate education still in use today. A. Lawrence Lowell is another notable, if slightly reprehensible president, having constructed a good portion of the wall around the Yard, the brick facades around Harvard’s campus, and the purchase of the property for the River Residences. Both have Harvard River Residences named for them.
The Residences by the Charles River are on land that was once mudflats and wharves. Now, they serve hundreds of students of this institution, and bear the names of bygone presidents and benefactors. Some of the best stories come from the memories of these early Harvardians.
The bells in Lowell House have their own special story, which we won’t give away, but suffice to say the original Russian bells are back in St. Danilov Monastery. Curious? Come on the tour!