Thompson House


  • Thompson House Presents
  • House Auction
  • “Bigwood”  a giant piece of driftwood in the House lounge
  • Gift Exchange at holidays of pretty packages containing bizarre accumulations of junk
  • Cake-Delivery Business
  • Formal House Dinner
  • Architectural Scavenger Hunt during O-Week


If you want it, Thompson has it. Everyone in Thompson is named Greg (an inside joke) and no one takes themselves too seriously. And everyone on campus can agree that Thompson has the loudest spirit, including its own proprietary House cheers.  Ceremonies and rituals have become a central part of House culture at Thompson. There are cheers at each House meeting. New RAs are intoned in a formalized ceremony. The activities and events in Thompson are endless in number and variety. Thompson House Presents, 1-part concert and 1-part talent show, is one of the most popular events of the year. House residents showcase their talents by performing as the opening act for a real, live band hired specifically to headline the event.

At another point in the year Thompson hosts a formal house dinner located at a nice restaurant in the city - or even on a boat! In the past the House has made a pilgrimage to Cracker Barrel to teach city kids all about suburban life (again, not taking themselves too seriously). John Measner was invited to perform a private magic show to the delight and amazement of all present. Impromptu late night visits to Clarke’s Diner are commonplace and in the winter snowball fights breakout on top of the 55th Street parking garage. O-Week kicks off with an architectural scavenger hunt. A camping trip is planned varying locations from year to year – Michigan one year, Indiana Dunes another, downstate Illinois the next. The annual House service auction is an energetic affair, with the naming rights to the House Lounge as one of the premiere items. Study breaks at Thompson are not your average fare and have previously included pork sausage & gravy biscuits and a molecular gastronomy themed study break utilizing copious amounts of dry ice. .

Though known throughout Housing & Residence Life as a volleyball powerhouse (capturing the IM championship three years running and perpetually in the finals), there is strong participation in midnight sports. Thompson is also service oriented, with Housemates volunteering each Saturday by providing resume review at the YWCA. The long standing house fundraiser, a birthday cake delivery service across campus allowing family and friends from afar to purchase and recognize a student’s special day, is now a finely tuned machine that generates serious cash for House use. 


Thompson is named after James Westfall Thompson (1869-1941) who was an American historian specializing in the history of medieval and early modern Europe, particularly of the Holy Roman Empire and France. He also made noteworthy contributions to the history of literacy, libraries and the book trade in the Middle Ages. Thompson received a PhD in history from the newly-founded University of Chicago in 1895. Thompson remained at Chicago as a professor of history until 1933, when he left for the University of California, Berkeley.

The House Lounge previously fostered a piece of a statue from the now-dismantled Woodward Hall (now lost through the ages), a stoplight, and all manner of street signs. Bigwood is now the beloved primary object d’art in Thompson House. Bigwood is an enormous piece of driftwood (more like a tree - it literally takes 4 or 5 people to lift) that intrepid Thompsonites hauled back from the Point at some point prior to 1999.  Greg the Gargoyle (Coincidently, a former RH of Henderson, another former Pierce Tower House, was named Greg Thompson) also makes the lounge his home, sharing the space with community-use items such as: a sewing machine, TV, beanbag chair, Keurig machine and water purifier.

Residence Hall Map

1414 E. 59th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
(773) 753-2270

Getting Around

Located just to the west of the Metra (electric commuter train) station, on the north side of the Midway Plaisance. The Harper Quad is about a five minute walk.

Total Hall Residents: 363

Room Arrangements

Breckinridge, Booth and Phoenix: All single rooms on single-sex floors; approximately 10’ X 12’. Community bathroom on each floor.

Thompson and Shorey: Mostly single rooms, a few doubles on co-ed floors; approximately 10’ X 12’. Community bathroom on each floor.

International House Sample Room Floor Plan


  • Inner courtyard
  • Programming in Assembly Hall
  • Third floor quiet study lounge
  • Large community kitchen and dining room
  • Each House has a small House lounge