What’s in the Olin Houses?

Olin has five buildings. No wait, six buildings, counting the project building. No wait, seven or eight counting those random houses out there… right?

Actually, Olin College is the proud owner of five houses on its campus, named Tesla, Edison, Curie, daVinci, and Curtis, bringing our building total up to 11… depending on how you count, of course. All of these houses were originally owned by Babson College, and came with Olin College’s land purchase. It seems strange that most Oliners (in the author’s experience) know little about what half of the buildings on campus are used for… so what does Olin do with them?

We will travel along Great Plain Avenue, starting with the westernmost Olin house, Tesla, and head eastward. Due to its small size, Tesla was the only Olin house not converted into office space for faculty and staff at the start of the College. The building is used to house faculty and staff as-needed. Otherwise, it is rented to non-Oliners, as it is today.

The next house we see is Edison. Most of the students at Olin today will remember this as the former location of the Foundry. Edison originally housed the Office of Student Life and the founding faculty, who moved to two modular buildings in Lot C before the Partner Year. Edison then housed Human Resources, Administration and Finances, and other offices. Once the shiny new campus was completed, Edison was empty until the Foundry moved in. Following the Great Shuffle of 2012, the Foundry re-located to the third floor of the Campus Center, and Edison now houses the offices of Development, Family & Alumni Relations, and Marketing and Communication.

Located next to Lot D is Curie, recognizable by the circular path in front of it. Curie housed the Admissions Office; after the shiny new campus was completed, it was leased to the Boston Consortium. According to their website boston-consortium.org, the Boston Consortium works to create “a collaborative environment among member institutions for the development and practical implementation of cost saving and quality improvement ideas,” which can include data collection, consolidation of resources, and collective bargaining. There are 15 current member institutions, including Olin, Babson, Wellesley, MIT, Harvard, and Berklee.

Across Olin Way is daVinci and the Carriage House (a garage). daVinci has the honor of being Olin’s first official address – 1735 Great Plain Avenue. The offices of the President, Academic Affairs, Administration and Finance, and External Relations were among those located in daVinci and the Carriage House. When these offices were moved into the shiny new Milas Hall, daVinci was reconverted into a residence, where the late Vice President of Academic Affairs Michael Moody lived. Today the Dean of Student life, Rod Crafts, lives here.

The final house on our journey is Curtis. Don’t worry if you can’t remember what scientist Curtis is named after – the building is actually named after the street it is located on. Several departments have been located in Curtis, including Information Technology. After the shiny new campus was finished, Curtis was reconverted into as-needed housing for faculty and staff, and is currently being rented to non-Oliners.

The author would like to thank the many people and HelpMe-ers who pitched in to gather this information, including Kendell Pletcher, Eric Jones, Matt Crawford, and Mark Chang. The author would like to extend a special note of thanks to Stephen Hannabury, Olin’s Executive Vice President and Treasurer, who provided a wealth of knowledge on the use and history of Olin’s houses.
Questions, comments, corrections, thoughts or otherwise may be submitted to the author at Aaron.Crenshaw AT students.olin.edu.

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