Off-campus houses handed down between generations of students offer history, havoc

Olde Country. The Destruction Zone. Lobo Lounge. To the untrained eye, these houses may seem entirely ordinary. But within their walls rest legacies and often debaucherous pasts.

Off-campus houses have a history of being handed down from student to student, and as such have acquired their fair share of traditions and myths. Often these houses are passed down through sports teams, like soccer or football, and gain reputations based on parties held there. Yet one of the most infamous houses that has been passed down by students isn’t a sports house: Olde Country. Traditionally, Olde Country has been a house for “theatre kids,” and is usually inhabited by theatre majors and minors, or members of the LC theater community at large.

Hannah Smay ’17 lived in Olde Country over the summer.

“It’s been the theatre house for more than a decade. The people who lived there with me were not theatre majors, so it was kind of an aberration from the previous tradition,” Smay said.

Olde Country is one of the most well-known and popular off-campus houses for LC students. It is known for its theatre parties, among other things.

“It’s one of the biggest houses you can get for the cheapest amount … it’s a five-minute walk to campus,” Smay said.

“There were so many rumors flying about how it’s unfit to be lived in …  none of us died in there, so clearly it’s fine,” Smay said.

Smay also spoke to the features of the house, including quotes written on the walls and an infamous box of coach figurines.

“The athletic department made [the figurines] for a coach [Robert Gaillard] when he retired, and they put one too many zeroes on the order, I think. We have a box that someone rescued, and it’s been there for like 10 years,” Smay said.

This semester, in a break from tradition, no LC students are currently living at Olde Country.

“There was a lot of stuff that went down that was unclear, but the landlords didn’t rent to them … so no one is living there, for the first time in a while,” she said.

Sam Gensler ’18, spoke of his less than optimal experience at Olde Country. He and some friends were the most recent group to try and rent Olde Country, but didn’t end up in the house.

“[The landlady] was infuriatingly relaxed … there was very little paperwork. My mother and I showed up … every single room had black mold, none of the windows seemed to be sealed, there were signs of water damage. There were two or three lighting fixtures that had exposed wiring,” Gensler said.

He and the other renters made a list of the damage they noticed, including a converted garage with a collapsing roof.

“We didn’t look into the attic or crawl space, because we didn’t even want to know what’s [sic] in there,” he said.

Gensler began looking at the legal aspects of the situation. He found that Oregon law stated that any house had to be watertight, amenities had to work, etc. He even mentioned the water heater, which he described as being held together by duct tape. They then contacted the landlady, who lived across the street.

“I start describing [the problems] to her … she called back to inform me that they were taking the house off the market for a few months,” Gensler said.

He and the other renters were able to find other housing options, but in the first week of school, Gensler became aware that Olde Country had been put on Facebook pages for students searching for housing.

“That place was not safe to live in … so it became, who do I contact, and how do I contact them,” Gensler said.

He filled out an online form through the city, detailing the issues with the house. The city took action under City Title 29 for a lack of permit to convert the garage to a living space, and it is now illegal for Olde Country to be listed for rent until the issues have been dealt with. Gensler mentioned that the previous tenants he spoke to were unsure whether or not the house had been inspected before.

“When we had informed the landlady that one of the people who was coming up knew about these things in a very professional way, because he was a contractor, she said, and I quote, ‘I don’t want a professional inspector coming through.’ She played the whole, ‘Oh, no, I didn’t know about that’ attitude. She knew it was a house that people on campus knew about,” Gensler said.

He continued, “I can hope that by the time the house is back on the market, no one in the theater department knows it’s Olde Country.”

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