Freshman Rebecca Adelson said she heard the hype about Thurston Hall before coming to GW. And as an early decision student, she was sure she’d be placed in her first-choice residence hall – the infamously branded freshman party central. But Adelson was assigned to the Potomac House instead, and after a week in her new abode, she’s convinced fate worked to her advantage.
“We call it Hotel Potomac. We go to Thurston to party and come back here to study and go to sleep,” she said.
The first-year living situation is a little different this year – most freshmen live in either the notorious Thurston Hall, or the dorm where everything is brand-spanking-new. But when you put them side-by-side (or across the street) how do these two freshman residence halls match up?
Comparing the amenities
At 2021 F St., Potomac House opened its doors this fall and is home to 379 freshmen. Unlike Thurston’s doubles, triples, quads and six-person rooms, Potomac residents live with one other roommate and have bathrooms that adjoin to a neighboring room.
With a spotless carpet, freshly painted white walls, and spacious bathrooms, most residents say, “What’s not to like about this brand-new residence hall?”
But some Potomac House residents can identify a few pitfalls.
“In comparison to Thurston, our security guards are much stricter,” said freshman Brad Miller, who selected the Potomac House as his first housing choice. “I have to sign people in and out all the time (in the Potomac House), but I never have to sign-in when I go to Thurston.”
Potomac House residents have also complained about limited food-storage space and heavy doors that close easily, preventing students from keeping their doors open to neighbors and new friends, a prevalent practice in Thurston Hall.
Thurston is the largest first-year residence in Foggy Bottom, housing 1,049 freshmen.
“Until they bring us door stops, we have been using our Tide bottles to keep our doors open,” resident Lawson Jessie said.
Freshman Jon Moynihan said he enjoys the amenities of living in his Thurston quad – and doesn’t think he’s missing out on anything by not living in Potomac House.
“We have more closet space than four guys could ever need, we have great air conditioning, and a big refrigerator that we can always keep stocked,” he said.
The freshman culture
Some students said one of the biggest benefits about the Potomac House is its proximity to Thurston – located diagonally across the street.
Unlike previous freshman classes, whose students were mostly split between Thurston and the Hall on Virginia Avenue, located on Virginia Avenue near 26th Street, the class of 2010 isn’t experiencing the same type of isolation between the two freshman camps.
In fact, new students said they find meeting people to be very easy since the two freshmen halls are so close to each other.
“I’m there (in Thurston) all the time, and its very convenient,” Adelson said.
Although it’s only been a few days since the start of the fall semester, some Potomac House residents said they wish their new home could have more of a laid-back environment.
“I like the fact that Potomac is new and clean, but the rooms are small and aren’t so conducive for a partying social atmosphere,” Miller said.
Jessie said he hopes to encourage a sense of community in the new hall. Adelson and her suitemates are trying to make Potomac House more social by playing loud music and writing on other freshmen’s wipe-off boards.
Moynihan has been to Potomac House a few times so far this semester, but said he’s never partied there. He said his Potomac friends come to Thurston to party on weeknights.
“Living in Thurston gives you a good balance. There’s always something to do, and although I’d like to be in a brand-new building, this is nice enough compared to other dorms,” Moynihan said.
“It’s a big grungy freshmen dorm that always has something going on; we’re freshmen, we don’t need to live in a brand-new place,” resident LeAnne Blanchette agreed.
A new rivalry?
But for students who are worried that Thurston’s legendary reputation as the place to live freshman year might wane in the face of a brand-new dorm, this year’s residents said the 42-year-old dorm is living up to their expectations.
“People’s doors are always open here and living in Thurston always sparks conversations between people in class,” Blanchette said.
As for the Potomac House’s own reputation, the residents of 2021 F St. are still working on one, but students like Miller and Adelson said they enjoy the quiet atmosphere.
“We are still unsure as to what type of community Potomac House will be since it has only been open for a week,” GW Housing Director Seth Weinshel said. “At this point students really like living in Potomac House. Overall, Potomac House residents seem to be happy and adjusting well to college life.”