The History of Gregory
In many ways Penn’s college house system started in Gregory House, though Gregory didn’t exist yet. Beginning in the 1970’s, two adjacent but very separate entities, Van Pelt College House and Modern Languages College House, posed challenging and successful alternatives to the standard ideas of dormitory life. Their innovations in residential programming, faculty involvement, and community-building became fundamental to the campus-wide college house system born in 1998. At that time, the two houses joined to form Gregory, named after Emily Lovira Gregory, the first woman to serve on the instructional staff at Penn (1888).
Van Pelt Manor and Class of 1925 (which still houses the Language & Culture Program Community), are both small, four-story structures, featuring private bedroom space for all inhabitants. That privacy is fundamental to the life of the House, but is balanced by Gregory’s unparalleled tradition of plentiful, well-attended and vibrant events, many of which have a long history. Bring Your Own Mug, Study Breaks, Floor Dinners, and weekly Language House gatherings are regular fixtures, week in and week out, and annual events like Apple Picking, 76ers Game, International Dinner, and Oscars Party are always highlights of the year. Cinema is central to Gregory, and there are often as many as ten film screenings in a given week.
The snug confines and relatively small size of the community with a highly accessible senior staff of administrators and Penn faculty—make for a close-knit, nurturing community. Thus almost all of Gregory’s upperclassmen are returners—previous Gregory freshmen, now returning to the House for their second, third or fourth year. The House is in many respects student-run, with those returners serving as House Managers, Resident Assistants or in other ways playing an active role in our programming and philosophy. It is almost impossible not to engage with house staff on a regular basis.