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House Kirkland
Neighborhood River West
Address 95 Dunster Street
Residential Buildings Smith Halls (Main Building), Bryan Hall (Annex)
Faculty Dean(s) Tom Conley & Verena Conley
Resident Dean(s) Soha Bayoumi
House Administrator Kate Drizos Cavell

Kirkland House is one of Harvard's smaller undergraduate houses and well-known for its tight-knit community and many traditions. Due to its convenient location (just steps away from the Malkin Athletic Center – although Kirkland was the first Harvard house to feature its own gym, which makes the short walk unnecessary in the cold), high-quality housing, and high density of dogs, Kirkland is one of Harvard's most coveted houses.


Kirkland is well-known for having the highest dog-to-student ratio among any Harvard house. Even students are known to be able to bring their furry friends to live in Kirkland. At any given time, Kirkland is usually home to over 15 dogs, which can be frequently found playing in the courtyard. Tutors also often have "Dog Office Hours" where students can visit and play with them. Kirkland House Faculty Deans Tom and Verena Conley themselves have a whole family of Bernese Mountain Dogs, which can frequently be found playing in the yard outside of their house.


The House is named for the Reverend John Thornton Kirkland, Class of 1789, who served as President of Harvard from 1810 to 1828 in an important period of growth and expansion for the College. Kirkland House was one of the seven original residential Houses established in 1931. It is composed of Smith Halls, which were constructed in 1914 as freshman dormitories; Bryan Hall and the Faculty Deans' Residence, both constructed in 1931; and Hicks House, which dates from 1762 and serves as the House Library. Kirkland students also live in the 20 DeWolfe Street apartments. Located in Smith Halls, the dining hall and Junior Common Room boast magnificent woodwork and high ceilings that highlight Kirkland's classic charm and elegance.

House Traditions

Kirkland has many house traditions and is often considered among students to be the "most spirited" house at Harvard. Due to its small size and ability to not take itself too seriously, engagement in these traditions is high and considered an integral part of the house.

This list is not exhaustive: Kirkland often also funds student-driven events, such as Oscar-viewing parties or outings to concerts. Due to its small community, many fun and funded events are put on every semester.

Secret Santa

Every Winter, Kirkland house residents are matched by the House Committee in a house-wide Secret Santa. Participants fill out a survey about themselves and pick an "intensity" level, with high-intensity levels featuring everything from serenades or original compositions performed in the dining hall to celebrity-signed photos. Kirkland residents are known to frequently go "all out" to make their secret santee's day, and pairs are revealed at the end of the week in a Kirkland-only dinner and ceremony that takes place directly before the Kirkland Winter Formal.

Haunted Hicks

Kirkland's October festivities include the most popular haunted house to be located inside of a Harvard undergraduate house library.

Housing Day

Every Housing Day since its inception (including in 2020), Kirkland residents have woken up at the crack of dawn to claim the John Harvard statue and defend it against rival houses. This spirit and drive makes Kirkland the most exciting house to be sorted into for a freshman.

Opening Ceremony

Playing on the history of Kirkland's Hicks House, once the quarters for officers in General Washington's army, an opening ceremony marks the start of each school year. Rain or shine, Students and Faculty Deans march behind a troupe of Revolutionary Era re-enactors who provide musical accompaniment on drum and fife.

Kirkland Drama Society

The Kirkland Drama Society has a storied tradition of putting on creative recreations of Shakespeare plays and original scripts, including such plays as "THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE KIRKLAND" and "TWELFTH NIGHT".


  • "I thought study abroad changed my life, but that was nothing compared to how I felt watching this show." -Scrollie Mugruhe
  • "Honestly the best bit of theater I've ever seen" - Someone who's never been to a theatrical performance

Brew Club

Kirkland features its own Beer brewery and offers a tutorial for students to learn how to brew their own beer. Brew Club beer is traditionally served at KDS performances, and at Steins.

Beer and Wine Tutorials

Kirkland features a beer tutorial and wine tutorial, taught by tutors in the house, where students get to sample a range of alcoholic beverages and learn more about the art of beer and wine tasting. Seniors also receive custom Kirkland wine glasses and beer steins.

Fridays with Faculty, SCR Events, and IOP fellows

Kirkland hosts multiple programs to get to know faculty and visiting fellows at the college.

The Kirkland dining hall is the only one in which IOP fellows are allowed to take meals, so you can often find them talking with students or hanging out there. In addition, the Kirkland SCR often hosts events with high-profile speakers, including Vox co-founder and former Kirkland House Resident Matthew Yglesias.

Fridays with Faculty is a nearly weekly lunch during which an invited faculty member discusses a topic of interest related to their field with a small group of students. Wine, cheese, and desserts complement your regular dining hall meal. Fridays is a chance for faculty and students to meet people outside their own classrooms, and to break bread together and share a conversation in a more relaxed setting.

Notable Alumni

Matthew Yglesias, co-founder of