Moving to Boston and living in the city is an adventure in and of itself for most people, and the Emerson dorms, while superior to a lot of on campus housing, make the experience all the more unpredictable. Since 2016 or so, when Emerson embarked on a mission of building renovation and construction, the on campus housing has changed a lot and can make it difficult for incoming freshmen to know what to expect. So, from someone who’s spent a year living on campus and who has friends in most of the five currently functioning buildings, here’s an honest review of each one.
P-Row, as the locals call it, was mainly the sophomore dorm before Little Building closed down for construction. Now every other floor is filled with freshmen complaining about their converted eight-person suites and how they were supposed to have in-suite common rooms but instead just have kitchenettes that are basically a sink and some storage space. The rooms on even floors have in-suite common rooms and are mostly filled with upperclassman.
Other than that, the amenities are pretty good and there are common rooms on the odd floors with couches, T.V.s and burners for cooking. Oh, and you’re only always a couple floors away from a bag of Cheetos or greasy onion rings (a.k.a The Max). The Max (also known as the C-store/Commons Cafe) is our student mart on the second floor of the P-Row building and is stocked to the brim with college kid food and slightly older fruit. The only real downside to P-Row is the social atmosphere. At least on my freshmen floor, people tended to stick to those in their suite or made friends elsewhere. It never really had that fun “let’s get to know each other” vibe most traditional freshman dorms have, something I’ve heard the old Little Building had in abundance.
Paramount is the on campus of the Emerson dorms that just happens to be a couple blocks off the main Emerson campus. Some people don’t mind the 7-10 minute walk from the residence hall/theater/classroom building and some find it quite the trek- especially in the colder months. The building is a mixture of stand alone doubles and four person or six person suites. No kitchenette or in-suite common rooms, just hallways, so keep that in mind. But there are common rooms on every floor with burners and T.V.s.
Paramount seems to be the go to home for theater and film majors, which makes sense because most of the theater and performances classes are held there and it’s also home to the film immersion floor. So if you’re trying to avoid theater kids or film boys, maybe try not to live here. Another downside is it’s far from the dining hall, which can be a real deal-breaker for some people, but Paramount is also home to the Paramount Cafe or P-caf. The P-caf has just about anything you could want including breakfast food all-day, stir-frys, ice cream, wraps and sandwiches, and hamburgers and fries. And the service there is generally better than at The Max.
Colonial, with its golden gilded doors, some may say they are the Emerson gates to heaven. Basically, for most sophomores, Colonial is the most sought after spot for housing. This is mostly because the building has the largest number of singles, situated in all-single suites and some combined single/double suites. It is also the only dorm on campus that currently has ovens! If you’re like me and baking is your form of catharsis, then this is very important.
Also important if you like to cook for yourself or if you have some dietary restrictions that make it hard for you to eat at the dining hall. The common rooms are very nice and open and often occupied by people. For some reason, Colonial common rooms tend to be more of a hang out space than the ones in P-Row or Paramount. My theory is that because you don’t actually have to open a door to go in them, people walking down the hall feel more welcome to come and hang out. Fun fact: the elevator doors do take forever to close but it’s because Colonial is the handi-accessible one of Emerson dorms, so remember that before complaining too loudly.
2 Boylston Place
2B is the newest of the Emerson dorms as of right now, and while that might imply that it is the nicest, that simply isn’t true. The problem with Emerson is the ambition of each renovation project and the little time that is actually given to complete them. 2B was hastily finished up so it could open for students last fall, which resulted in some shoddy workmanship- a.k.a exploding lamps and an overall untasteful “industrial chic” look.
But, the building does have its perks including some of the best views on campus and full size fridges in some of the common rooms. Also there’s the 14th floor balcony, home to a great outdoor view of the city and yoga classes and other fun RA activities. It’s close to the dining hall and pretty much everything, and it has the added plus of not being directly on the street. So, no hoboes randomly walking into your lobby and such. You can roll out of bed and go directly to Walker Building or the Backstage coffee shop for some knock-off Starbucks!
Hemenway is Emerson’s off campus dorm and it’s much farther than Paramount. It’s about a mile down Boylston in the area of Boston that is mostly Northeastern housing. That’s about a 25 minute walk or a 15 minute T ride straight down the green line (three stops). While this may seem like the worst housing options, it’s generally a sophomore dorm and comes with some perks as well.
The laundry at Hemenway is free, there’s supposedly complimentary breakfast, Emerson gives you a free T pass for each semester and there aren’t any RAs! Many people dread having to live in Hemenway and it only houses 112 students, so if you’re not to keen on the idea there’s a good chance you won’t have to live there. Some people really do enjoy the distance and space though, and say it is the closest to living on your own and being independent that you can get while still technically living in Emerson dorms.