Concise Encyclopedia of Tufts HistorySauer, Anne
Carpenter House, 1940
Tufts University purchased Carpenter House from the Phi Epsilon Pi fraternity in 1968. When Tufts bought the house, it was renamed to honor Russell L. Carpenter, A1924, a former member of the biology department and longtime curator of the Tufts University Barnum Collection. It is located at 8 Winthrop Street on the Medford Campus.
Phi Epsilon Pi acquired the house in 1940, remodeling the sixteen-room house slightly to accommodate between sixteen and eighteen fraternity brothers. The fraternity remained in the residence until the fraternity was closed in 1968 due to a lack of student interest and a high occurrence of drug use in the fraternity residence. Although in 1969, fraternity members tried to rejuvenate interest in Phi Epsilon Pi and reacquire the house, their efforts failed, and the university converted the house into the first home of the Afro-American Culture Center.
The Afro-American Culture Center remained in Carpenter House until 1977. During its stay, residents often had to deal with harassment, especially from members of the local community. In one incident, local teens threw rocks at the house, breaking three windows, and yelled racial slurs at the residents.
In 1977, the Afro-American Culture House relocated to the Capen House on Professors Row. Carpenter House was again converted to serve as a dormitory, and housed mainly upperclassmen. On March 3, 1979, a major fire at the Carpenter House severely damaged the building. Although no one was injured in the blaze, much of the house was demolished.
At a cost of $155,000, Tufts rebuilt Carpenter House, changing the original shape to make it more suited to a dormitory, and students were able to return to the building by September 1979. Since then, Carpenter House has served solely as a dormitory. From 1990 through 1994, Carpenter House was unstaffed, making it a popular residence for upperclassmen. After the house was repeatedly damaged during parties, the university decided to begin staffing Carpenter House again. Carpenter House also briefly served as a home for transfer students in 1993, after a large class of transfers filled the allotted housing facilities.
As of 2001, Carpenter House continues to serve as an undergraduate dormitory.
Source: TW, OBS, TD
The encyclopedia seeks to capture more than 150 years of Tufts' achievements, societal contributions and outstanding alumni and faculty in concise entries. As a source of accurate factual information, the Encyclopedia can be used by anyone interested in the history of Tufts and of the people who have made it the unique institution it is.