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A History of Lewis Hall

Arts & Culture | November 4, 2010

How many times have you walked by Lewis and thought, I wish this hall had a more appropriate name? I would guess somewhere between one and two thousand times, but my ballparking isn’t so great. We’ll assume for all intents and purposes, though,  that it’s a lot, which is ironic because when you consider that Lewis used to be called Freefer Hall, things get a whole lot funnier. Freefer Hall. Doesn’t that sound a lot like free-for-all? Reefer Hall? Both not inappropriate given the gilded history of Tufts’ own Mystery Machine. But before you give the administration too much credit for a robust sense of humor, consider the fact that the building was originally built under the auspices and financial generosity of Mr. & Mrs. Quentin P. Freefer in 1969. Kinda legit, right?

But a February 25th, 1971 article from the Observer entitled “Young Dorm Raped” reveals problems with the new dorm, problems that may not seem too foreign to today’s students. Author Stephanie Green writes, “From the paneling warping off the main floor walls to the doorknobs on the fire doors that break off in one’s hands, the dorm has been suffering from a multitude of problems.” Let’s keep in mind that this article was written just months after the official opening of the dorm when all was supposed to be shiny chrome, glowing wood, and spiffy linoleum. At least those who have braved residence in Lewis can take solace in the fact that their dorm has always been a cataclysm of broken hinges and questionable safety mechanisms.

After the monolithic edifice was officially dedicated to Professor Leo Rich Lewis (the legend behind Tufts’ melodic alma mater) in 1972, the too-good-to-be-true moniker was dropped. Somewhere between 1972 and 2010, however, the majestic title of Freefer Hall has been relegated to mere typeface in the tomes of archives in the G-level of Tisch. Put that in your Lewis bathroom and smoke it.