Enough Tupperware
by Leslie Lawrence '72

Keep Cottage continues a tradition of self-boarding that began over a century ago.
Earning their keep

Keep Cottage planners fretted over whether a maid might appropriately pass through the students dining room to answer the front door.


A legacy has taken root at Keep Cottage, a legacy of cooperative living. The Oberlin Student Cooperative Association celebrates the 50th anniversary of campus cooperatives this year. Among OSCA's buildings, Keep has been a cooperative the longest, gaining that status in 1965. Two earlier co-ops--Pyle Inn and Grey Gables--have since been razed.
Keep's re-birth as a co-op marked a return to roots, although the historic echo may have gone undetected. The home-like dormitory, designed by Chicago architect Normand Patton to house 50 women and board an additional 30 men, was built in 1912 on the site of the home of Reverend John Keep (a.k.a. "Father Keep," famed for casting the tie-breaking vote to admit African-Americans to the College). In 1889, 23 years earlier, the reverend's family had presented his home, Keep House, to the College to be used as a residence for indigent women students who "practiced strict economy by self-boarding," reported the College Catalog of 1908.


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