If you walked into Adams C-entryway this Saturday night, only the plastic Coke bottles and the denim-clad undergrads would remind you that you were still in the 21st century. With the regal grace of 1940s high society, alumni and students alike gathered in Adams House for the third annual FDR Memorial Lecture and Gala Dinner. A speech given by Franklin Roosevelt’s grandson, Curtis Roosevelt, was followed by a black-tie dinner and dancing, complete with a live 10-piece orchestra playing jazz standards from the ’30s and ’40s.
The event was organized by the FDR Suite Foundation, which is working to restore Roosevelt’s college suite on the second floor of C-entryway, back to its 1903 condition. it will serve as a memorial for Roosevelt and as accomodations for important guests of the College.
“All the other presidents have been heavily commemorated on campus,” said Michael D. Weishan ’86, president of the FDR Suite Foundation. “Poor Franklin was left alone.”
Tickets were a whopping $175 per plate to the event, but in the spirit of the New Deal, some were made available for free to undergraduates on a first-come, first-serve basis. And true to Harvard College form, the event mixed high class with even higher class by inviting the Roosevelt Institute, a student group dedicated to progressive government policy, to help bring some undergraduate flair to the event.
Matthew H. Young ’12, president of the Roosevelt Institute, who was sporting a tie with different images of FDR, emphasized the importance of the event’s classiness.
“When R.I. throws a party, we take it old school,” said Young, as he carried a Harvard alumni pennant around the room with a slightly wobbling gait.
“It’s about being classy without being wasted and drunk while at the same time advancing our policies,” he said. “We’ll do beer pong, but we can do better.”
While the tastefully conservative dancing didn’t get going until 8:30 p.m., the lecture preceding it was almost more raucous thanks to an open bar.
“Adams House throws the best parties,” said Tweed Roosevelt ’64, the great-grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt, class of 1880. “It did when I was here, and it still does.”
This odd dichotomy of high-class alums and reveling undergrads mixed with surprising fluency. “I think this is a great opportunity for interface between alums and students. They’re not old people. They’re young at heart,” said Young, winking to a nearby alumna.
“I love him already!” she responded.