While he was an undergrad majoring in aerospace engineering, Michael Berry ’10 took a course on MIT history and discovered what he considered an unacceptable fact: that documented histories of MIT living groups were either nonexistent or not easily accessible. So he set about to change that by focusing on his home for four years, Burton-Conner, a.k.a. Burton House and Conner Hall (the official name), a.k.a. Burton House, a.k.a. BC.
He interviewed more than 60 alumni and documented his research in an engaging, informative, and personal account, “60 Years of Burton House.” You can download it as a pdf or read the chapters online (click on the archive link in the lower left corner of the page).
So what all did he learn from his exploration? That the more things change, the more they stay the same. Writes Berry in the introduction, “The stories from earlier generations of Burtonites are nearly identical to stories from later generations because Burton’s identity has been maintained throughout the years.”
Berry’s research was unveiled at Burton-Conner’s 60th anniversary celebration in January. Some 130 alumni of all generations, family, and current residents attended the event, which was organized by Berry (who chaired the committee), Housemasters Roe Smith and Brownyn Mellquist, current residents, and alumni.
Former residents toured the building and chatted with students about life in Burton-Conner now. There was also a brief program and panel moderated by Professor Smith and including Bill Hecht ’61, SM ’76; John Sullivan ’72; Gordon Haff ’79; Muriel Medard ’89, ’91, SM ’91, SCD ’95; and Daniel Sauza ’11, who each spoke about their era in BC.
Check out the event video, which was compiled by Garrett Hemann ’11. Also take a moment to visit the redesigned Burton-Conner alumni website, where you can read and comment on stories from former residents (again, click the archive link)—like Indoor Park Prank (1965) and Hot Plates=Hot Topic (1953)—and add your own. Berry is eager for more community involvement to construct a more complete and accurate history, especially information about housemasters he’s missing.
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