At 163 ½ Oak Street, the living room makes a great dance floor. The bottle of caramel vodka they found in the basement was great way to christen the house, and the roof is the perfect spot to stargaze on clear nights. Maddy Brylski likes playing her banjo in the living room, and the eight junior girls living in the house sit on the porch singing and talking with friends. The Halfway House has become their home and family.
Tucked away near the woods and not immediately visible from the road, juniors Maddy and Marcy Bryliski, Nina Hufford, Kasia Ignatik, Avery Lacey, Anna Payne, Helen Potter, and Cait Weighner have created a community in a beautiful house.
“We do just have a lot of fun,” Lacey said. “We just laugh a lot and do silly things.”
In years past, the house has been named “The Three Way” and “The Blue Door.” But these girls wanted to give it a new name and debated all summer long about different names. It wasn’t until the beginning of the year that they finally settled on a name.
“Finally we said we are having a house meeting tonight and we will have a name by the end of the meeting,” Potter said.
Along with being a pun on the address, the name also fits their stage of life.
“We liked it because it was like we are halfway through college, all of us are juniors, also college is like an in-between stage,” Potter said.
The women said when they were underclasswomen, older students welcomed them into their homes and helped them find community. Lacey said she remembers how much she loved having off-campus houses to hang out at when she was a freshman and sophomore.
“We had Brooklyn and the Womb and these upperclassmen places that took us in,” Lacey said.
They knew they wanted to do the same. And now as juniors, they have that opportunity.
“I think there was an intentionality because we all knew that we wanted a house that was open to people,” Potter said.
The residents have fostered an environment that is comfortable and calm, something especially valuable for younger students still learning to deal with the regular stress and stimulus of college life.
“One thing that we talked about explicitly was being open to underclassmen and making a place where they can feel like they can have good conversation but not feel a pressure to do things,” Hufford said.
But aside from having a spacious house to host people and have friends over, the girls found that it’s the little things that have made their house a home and a gathering place for friends.
“Like having a couch that is not publicly owned,” Weighner said.
Renovated and big, the Halfway House looks less like a “college house,” making it uniquely homey compared to other off-campus houses in the area. Its spacious living room has become a defining characteristic of the house. They host parties and in the fall, spending warm nights on the screened-in back porch with friends while crickets sing. They all end the evening singing traditional songs under cafe lights.
Junior Mary Kate Boyle said she has enjoyed spending time at the Halfway House and cherishes the atmosphere that they have created.
“It seems like there’s always music and laughter when I’m over there. One of my favorite memories there is coming over after Garden Party — we wound up sitting on the kitchen floor and talking for hours,” Boyle said.
The environment has helped the girls maintain perspective and balance the student lifestyle. In comparison to a dorm, they said they feel that a house helps them relax better and remember that there is more to life than homework. The Halfway House has become a quiet escape for all of them and grounded them and given an extra dimension to their lives. It has also drawn them together closer as friends.
“Definitely the highlight is just the friendships and getting to deepen those more,” Maddy Brylski said.
They have all known each other since the beginning of college, but living together, their friendships have deepened over little things like creating a chore chart, doing dishes, taking the trash, and wearing each other’s clothes.
“This is the first time I have worn all of my own clothing in a while,” Payne said.
But with a close group of friends who now get to be housemates, the girls of Halfway House have become a tight-knit group ready to welcome anyone into their home and let them take part in the community and life that they have found there.