The Coven of Witches on High Street

Susanne Bushman, Arts Editor
bushmans@grinnell.edu

If Grinnell had a reality television show, the residents of 1008 High St, Sophie Donlon, Eliza Harrison, Jenny Samuels and Anna Transit (all ’16), want to be the stars.

Though their house doesn’t have an official name yet, they colloquially call it the Bad Girls Club, a reference to the reality show on Oxygen. The name also reflects their own mocking aspirations for a show that features “four girls, one house, on the hottest block in central Iowa.”

Other options for the name circled around the collective identity as a coven of witches, which is part of what solidified the four as a group after being paired together as roommates first year.

“I think we were brought together mostly by our interest in the occult,” Samuels said. “It was kind of impossible to answer [the roommate matching] surveys without mentioning paranormal activity.”

From left: Anna Transit, Jenny Samuels, Eliza Harrison and Sophie Donlon (all ’16) pose on their trademark front porch. (Photo by Takahiro Omura)

From left: Anna Transit, Jenny Samuels, Eliza Harrison and Sophie Donlon (all ’16) pose on their trademark front porch. (Photo by Takahiro Omura)

This connection to the paranormal made moving into 1008, one of the oldest houses in Grinnell, a natural fit, as they claim it to be one of the most haunted houses in Grinnell, occupied by a number of ghosts.

“We had all had really strong paranormal experiences before coming to college, and I think it’s only gotten stronger here,” Harrison added.

The first couple of days left the group uneasy in their house, with many unexplained sounds, occurrences and appearances. However, the residents now feel at home in their house and choose to respect the ghosts.

They have even assembled a shrine in honor of the supernatural residents.

“I think now they’ve done nothing but good things for us,” Donlon said. “Personally, I think that’s why all of our parties have been so successful.”
Respecting the ghosts and their house is one concern for the members of the Bad Girls Club, but the group also has many concerns outside of their house, which surround politics, religion and women’s rights.

“I think we’re all also concerned about the conservative religious direction our country’s going in because, as witches, that’s really threatening,” Samuels said.
“Like, we were burned at the stake at one point in our country’s history and no one talks about it,” Donlon added.

Witchcraft and ghosts aren’t the only aspects of the supernatural with which the residents connect. The general décor of the house also reflects the group’s connection to otherworldliness, which includes an inflatable alien and posters with spaceships.

Aliens seem inevitable to the 1008 residents, who claim to be “ready for abduction.”

“When [aliens] come, they’re going to crash at our place,” Harrison said.

Though they share many similar interests, the group is still different enough to never get bored.

“Some variety keeps it interesting,” Transit said.

Because 1008 High St. is a popular off-campus option for many, an interesting array of items has ended up occupying 1008, which proves both helpful and hindering. Among these are craft materials, roller skates and a bag of neon colored vampire teeth. The residents are even considering holding a yard sale to purge themselves of the odd collection.

They’ve inherited a painting that they call “Iowa Surrealism,” which depicts animals in a snowy scene. The past residents of 1008 have all left their mark on it, including, of course, a spaceship.

These traditions and hand-me-downs combined with the group’s affinity for throwing parties and “getting rowdy” give the Bad Girls Club a “ladies frat” feel.
“It’s kind of like ‘Virgin Suicides’ fraternity,” Donlon said. “Beer bonging while listening to dreamy pop music in our pajamas.”

Though the group is taking a break from hosting parties at their house, they feel that these parties provide a key space for students to connect off campus.
“It’s an important part of community building that is often misunderstood,” Harrison said.

The four accredit attending parties on High Street during their first year as what allowed them to really connect with the College.
“It made it so much easier to come to college,” Transit shared.

For this coven of witches, living together all under one roof has been a dream come true.

“It’s fun to come home and have your witch pack there,” Harrison said.