Following intensive consultation with students and some two years of planning and preparations, Harvard College will open the Cambridge Queen’s Head on April 19.
The new 176-seat pub in Loker Commons, intended to augment the College’s House-based social life with a comfortable common venue for meeting and socializing, will debut with some 15 special events in its first two months of operation.
“This is a project designed by students for the use of students,” says Benedict H. Gross, Leverett Professor of Mathematics and dean of Harvard College. “We want a strong sense of community and a vibrant social scene on campus, to balance the academic demands of student life.”
Originally the idea of William C. Kirby, former dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and now Edith and Benjamin Geisinger Professor of History and director of the Fairbank Center for East Asian Research, the project has been spearheaded by Zac Corker ’04, who has worked as the College’s project manager.
Gross will open the Cambridge Queen’s Head with an April 19 ribbon-cutting, after which there will be an afternoon-long open house for the Harvard community. A grand opening event will be held for undergraduates and alumni the following evening, April 20.
The Queen’s Head moniker has a long history at Harvard. John Harvard, the University’s first benefactor, owned and operated a 17th century inn of the same name in the London neighborhood of Southwark. The establishment was bequeathed to the fledgling Harvard College upon John Harvard’s death in 1638.
To mark the connection between the old and new Queen’s Head, a delegation from Southwark will attend the opening of the Cambridge Queen’s Head, with the leader of Southwark Council, Nick Stanton, slated to purchase the first pint of beer for one British pound.
“The College administration is listening to students, and the message we hear is clear: ‘Social life is important to us, and we want the College to facilitate opportunities for on-campus social interactions with our peers,'” says Judith H. Kidd, associate dean of Harvard College for student life and activities. “The success of the Harvard Pub Night series over the last two years – drawing nearly 1,000 students per event – reinforced the strong desire for such an on-campus social space. We’re delighted that this wonderful amenity will be open in time for the 2007 seniors to share in the beginning of a new College tradition.”
Open late into the evening, after House dining facilities have closed, the Cambridge Queen’s Head will offer a full menu of affordable pub fare, chosen by undergraduates during a series of taste tests last year. The facility offers a built-in stage and sound system, providing a venue for campus musicians to perform before a large audience of their peers.
“The Queen’s Head will offer an open and inviting space to meet on campus, whether with an instructor or a group of friends,” Kidd says. “Our plans focus on programming and entertainment, as well as a full, reasonably priced food menu. We see beer and wine service for students of legal age as an accompaniment, not the centerpiece.”
The College, in collaboration with Harvard University Dining Services, has hired Scott C. Smider ’01 as manager of the Queen’s Head. Smider, whose degree from Harvard is in economics, served as Currier House Committee chair and was a member of Harvard’s varsity wrestling team. Since 2001 he has managed several large restaurants and entertainment venues in Baltimore and Washington.
As professional manager, Smider will be assisted in running the Queen’s Head by student managers and staffers from Harvard Student Agencies. These students will be responsible for everything from food preparation to the booking of acts and entertainment.
Undergraduates have had a significant role in shaping the Queen’s Head from its inception, including the pub’s performance capabilities, its menu via last year’s series of “Pub Grub Taste Tests,” and the look and feel of the design and décor.
“We couldn’t be more excited to have Scott on board,” Kidd says. “By putting this facility in his hands and those of our current students, we are continuing Zac Corker’s and my tradition of closely involving undergraduates in all aspects of the creation and ongoing planning for this wonderful space.”
The Queen’s Head opening marks the latest in a string of new spaces for Harvard students this academic year. The Harvard College Women’s Center debuted in September 2006, providing a meeting space and outreach center for all undergraduates. Meanwhile, newly renovated common rooms in Harvard Yard provided revitalized social spaces in freshman housing. The Lamont Library Café opened in October 2006, providing library-goers with convenient sustenance. Also in October, the College rededicated a former library as the Student Organization Center at Hilles, a hub for Harvard student organizations, which also contains the Penthouse Coffee Bar.
Designed by the Boston architectural firm Miller Dyer Spears, the Cambridge Queen’s Head is located in Loker Commons on the lower level of Memorial Hall, an august structure originally completed in 1876.