Constructed in 1930, Lowell House was named for the Lowell family, closely identified with Harvard since John Lowell graduated in 1721. Harvard President Abbott Lawrence Lowell (1909-33) instituted the House system, tutorials, subject concentrations, and reading periods. His bust and that of poet James Russell Lowell are in the House’s main courtyard. In the dining hall are portraits of President Lowell and his wife; his sister Amy Lowell, the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet; and his brother Percival Lowell, the astronomer who spearheaded the search for the planet Pluto.

The House community contains 400 undergraduates, approximately 25 resident tutors and scholars drawn from Harvard’s graduate and professional Schools, and more than 75 affiliated faculty members and visiting scholars. House Masters Diana Eck, the Fredric Wertham Professor of Law and Psychiatry in Society and a member of the Faculty of Divinity, and Dorothy Austin, Sedgwick Associate Minister in the Memorial Church and University chaplain, are only the fifth masters officeholders in nearly 70 years, a testament to the House’s durability and richness. Lowell’s legacy includes the annual Lowell House Opera, the black-tie dinners known as High Tables, the famous 5 o’clock Thursday Teas in the Masters’ Residence, and the 1 p.m. Sunday ringing of the Russian Bells in Lowell’s tower.

At a recent High Table dinner, members of the old guard such as Diana Stewart, whose husband, Zeph, was the House’s third master, and Maurice Pechet, who began as a senior tutor back in 1948, mingled with current residents scarcely a quarter their age. Impromptu piano playing from singer Livingston Taylor, a former artist-in-residence, punctuated the conversation, which then stopped altogether as twins Danielle and Arielle Rabinowitz ’14 performed a riveting piano duet that had the audience spellbound in rapt silence. Gradually, talk resumed, guests went to the dining room to exchange ideas over an elegant dinner, and another memorable evening was being etched in the annals of the rich Lowell House tradition.

Lowell's bells and whistles

Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer

  • Members of the Lowell House Society of Russian Bell Ringers perform their Sunday ritual of sounding the bells in Lowell House tower at 1 p.m.

    Members of the Lowell House Society of Russian Bell Ringers perform their Sunday ritual of sounding the bells in Lowell House tower at 1 p.m.

  • Inna Ryzhik 12 (left) and Virginia Marshall 15 sound the Mother Earth Bell, which weighs nearly 13 tons: Its clapper alone weighs about 700 pounds. From 1930 to 2008, the Lowell House tower housed one of the most famous Russian bell sets in the world.

    Inna Ryzhik '12 (left) and Virginia Marshall '15 sound the Mother Earth Bell, which weighs nearly 13 tons: Its clapper alone weighs about 700 pounds. From 1930 to 2008, the Lowell House tower housed one of the most famous Russian bell sets in the world.

  • A close-up of an engraving on one of Lowell Houses bells.

    A close-up of an engraving on one of Lowell House's bells.

  • Lowell House residents relax and socialize at a weekly tea in the masters residence.

    Lowell House residents relax and socialize at a weekly tea in the masters' residence.

  • Diana Stewart (left), whose husband, Zeph, was the third master of Lowell House (from 1963-75), speaks with current House Master Diana Eck. Like many past residents, Stewart feels a lasting bond to Lowell and returns regularly for dinners and teas.

    Diana Stewart (left), whose husband, Zeph, was the third master of Lowell House (from 1963-75), speaks with current House Master Diana Eck. Like many past residents, Stewart feels a lasting bond to Lowell and returns regularly for dinners and teas.

  • Resident tutor Jonathan Bruno (left) and portrait painter Steve Coit converse before Lowells black tie dinner.

    Resident tutor Jonathan Bruno (left) and portrait painter Steve Coit converse before Lowell's black tie dinner.

  • Twins Danielle 14 (left) and Arielle Rabinowitz 14 perform a piano duet before a black tie High Table dinner.

    Twins Danielle '14 (left) and Arielle Rabinowitz '14 perform a piano duet before a black tie High Table dinner.

  • Musician and former artist-in-residence Livingston Taylor (right) plants a kiss on the cheek of Maurice Pechet, who has been a loyal member and benefactor of Lowell House Senior Common Room since 1948, the year be began as the Allston Burr Senior Tutor.

    Musician and former artist-in-residence Livingston Taylor (right) plants a kiss on the cheek of Maurice Pechet, who has been a loyal member and benefactor of Lowell House Senior Common Room since 1948, the year be began as the Allston Burr Senior Tutor.

  • Lowell House Master Diana Eck poses with toga-clad Emily Bigelow 14 before Harvards 375th celebration parade.

    Lowell House Master Diana Eck poses with toga-clad Emily Bigelow '14 before Harvard's 375th celebration parade.

  • Co-Master Dorothy Austin, Sedgwick Associate Minister in the Memorial Church and University chaplain, serves students at the weekly five oclock Thursday tea.

    Co-Master Dorothy Austin, Sedgwick Associate Minister in the Memorial Church and University chaplain, serves students at the weekly five o'clock Thursday tea.