By Jessica Kunzman
The historic home at 1018 East Street has many names. To seasoned Grinnellians, it is the Garden House. To partygoers, it is the Basement House. But to Bea Herce-Hagiwara, Helen Lant, Irene Gilbert, Maddi Danks and Rachel Buckner, all ’18, it is Laughter House 5.
These women live at 1018, a self-proclaimed coven that fosters an atmosphere of love, friendship and mystery. According to Lant, the house “holds a feminine legacy.” The five friends came together through fate. While Herce-Hagiwara and Gilbert’s friendship predates Grinnell, the additional members came together in their early years at the College. When asked what makes the house special, Lant said “true love.” It is a place of “pure women love and good vibes.”
“There’s already drama in a lot of other houses,” Gilbert said. She explained that Laughter House 5 is not a home to drama, but to a cozy, warm group dynamic. This is not a place of passive-aggressive Post-it notes. Problems are dealt with head on and early on so there are no unaddressed issues.
But the social climate in 1018 is not the only thing that is comfy and welcoming. The living areas host two undecorated Christmas trees, a reasonably functional antique 8-Ball and a set of decorative, non-functioning scales. The aesthetic is unique and developing, and the group of friends plan to acquire other decorations as they move in further. Their wish list includes speakers, light strings and a food processor. All of the beds are comfortable and the new residents received furniture and decorations from the previous residents.
For all of its character, the Laughter House is not without its baggage. Last year, a resident fell in a hole in the backyard (which has since been covered). According to residents, the house is moderately haunted. There exist some mysterious cupboards and closets that they refuse to open. The upstairs closet hides a “F.R.I.E.N.D.S” poster that the residents unanimously agree is creepy. The basement bathroom is home to shower amenities with unknown owners. Adding to the supernatural aesthetic, Irene is a self-proclaimed ice cube demon.
“Sometimes, someone comes running through the living room, holding two ice cube trays, yelling, ‘who didn’t refill these?’” Herce-Hagiwara said.
Even with its mysteries, this house is among the best.
“Having been to a party at pretty much every off-campus house in my four years, I can say this is probably one of the nicest. … It’s the perfect house,” Gilbert said.
The house features a porch and seasonal areas. The upstairs is a winter area, ready for the holiday season. The summers are made bearable by central AC that keeps the temperature comfortable.
Laughter House 5 is currently accepting applications for an experienced party planner looking to round out their portfolio who could plan a formal murder mystery dinner.