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Campus Life

Celebrating 60 Years of Myles

From a 1920s luxury hotel to a student dorm

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In the video above, learn about Myles Standish Hall’s transition from a 1920s luxury hotel to a student dorm, where the famous and infamous walked the halls — from Babe Ruth and Martin Luther King, Jr. (GRS’55, Hon.’59) to radio shock-jock Howard Stern (COM’76).

When StuVi2 opened this fall, more than 900 students moved in. Local hotels that had accommodated students shut out of campus housing, Cambridge’s Hyatt Regency and Brookline’s Holiday Inn, were no longer needed.

Little did they know that the scenario harkens back 60 years, moving through the figurative shadow of Myles Standish Hall.

“By purchasing the Myles Standish hotel in 1949 for use as a large residence hall, Daniel L. Marsh (STH’08, Hon.’53), Boston University’s fourth president, began BU’s transformation from a commuter to a residential school,” says Daryl Healea (STH’01, SED’10), Residence Life assistant director for student and staff development.

Tonight, the Myles Standish Residence Hall Association (RHA) sponsors its annual birthday bash, celebrating Myles’ 60 years as a BU dorm. “This year we’ve adopted a gladiator theme,” says Osvaldo Delvalle, Myles residence hall director. “There will be jousting events for prizes, music, cake, and Roman- and Greek-inspired food, free and open to the BU community.”

The Myles RHA has been planning the event since September, hoping to best last year’s attendance of 300.

“Continuing the tradition builds a sense of community,” says Teddy Mejia (CAS’12), RHA secretary. “It gets students out of their rooms.”

One of BU’s venerated traditions, the Myles birthday bash has evolved over the decades. According to a 1981 article in the Daily Free Press, “the 32nd annual birthday party” transformed the cafeteria into a casino. Students dressed in semiformal attire danced under a disco ball, and each was given $1,000 in play money to wager on roulette, craps, and blackjack. Guests over 21 had champagne; everyone else toasted Myles with ginger ale. This year, goblets raised high, would-be gladiators will toast with grape juice instead of wine.

In the late 1920s and early 1930s, the Myles Standish was a posh place to be seen, home to lavish balls, society weddings, and political functions. It was also a place to lay low.

“During Prohibition, two speakeasies operated in the basement event rooms, the Captain’s Cabin and the Silver Lagoon, which still exist,” Healea says. “What’s a bit ironic is that Marsh was an ardent Prohibitionist, very against alcohol. So he was able to capture Myles Standish for his Prohibitionist ways.”

The 60th Myles Birthday Party takes place tonight, Friday, December 11, at the former hotel, 610 Beacon St., starting at 9 p.m. Admission is free with BU ID.

Robin Berghaus can be reached at berghaus@bu.edu.

1 Comments

One Comment on Celebrating 60 Years of Myles

  • Anonymous on 12.16.2009 at 10:58 am

    A wonderful piece! I look forward to more slideshows and articles detailing the history of BU’s various buildings.

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