How I survived The Castle — a party house with eight other roommates

Guest post by Megan

My sophomore year I lived with my boyfriend and seven of our friends in a party house. We’d convinced a landlord to move out of his 4,000 square foot historic mansion we’d dubbed “The Castle” — and to allow nine rowdy college students to move in. Let’s just say this man — the landlord — was the equivalent of 100 college students, and had really had his way with this house. This guy partied HARD and it showed: there were missing floorboards, broken windows, bullet holes in the ceiling, and about 35 years of grime. And the number to Pizza Hut had been written in sharpie on the wall next to the antique telephone.


The nine of us moved in and attempted to bring our home up to code. We managed to get some FREE linoleum and lime shag carpet from someone’s grandparents’ shed. It really tied the rooms together. We jammed nine people into three bedrooms. Well — actually — one of my friends lived in a closet off the kitchen, and another lived in an open space.

This house became a party house like none other. It was the stuff of legend. Years later, people still speak of The Castle in hushed and reverent tones. A party guest once drunkenly called a taxi service, stated her location as “The Castle” — and lo and behold, the driver knew where it was. I didn’t realize how famous this party house became until I was at the grocery store on Halloween buying beer for the party and people I didn’t know in line asked if I was going out. They said that they were too, and asked if I had ever heard of “The Castle.” I booked it out of the grocery store and zipped back home. This was about to get OUT. OF. HAND.

Halloween brought 300 to our home at once — the person watching the door counted. Four kegs gone in an hour, one trip to the ER for a spurting arm wound… and this is how parties typically went.

You can imagine I have advice on living with a bajillion roommates who throw massive parties:

  • Label your food — I never tasted a drop of many of the cartons of milk I bought! Once we agreed to label food we still shared many items, but this way you got to eat your food!
  • Organize a weekly cleaning session and lost and found swap — If most of us were able to do a “strike team” cleaning, we could get that whole place cleaned up after a rager in about an hour. We also started a lost and found box in our living room.
  • Make a shower schedule
  • Assign someone to stay at the door during large parties — This way we had a bouncer. People who had broken windows, tried to start fights, or were underaged could be turned away. We could also manage the noise level outside.
  • Rejoice in the fact that you live with many wonderful people and learn from them! We didn’t have a TV — but we did all play pool, cook food, think up ideas for and plan parties, and generally hang out.
  • Invest in an escape cove — When parties were thumping until 4:00, it was nice to know I could crash at a friend’s or go to the school and study in the library if need be.

So, I’m betting you want to take a look at this place? We don’t have a measly Flickr set, we have a virtual tour of The Castle. Enjoy!

Comments on How I survived The Castle — a party house with eight other roommates

  1. Ha! There was a house in Nedlands, Perth, Australia called… [will comment reply later when remembered] that served exactly the same purpose. I went to my first party there in ’04, in ’07 my friend’s sister’s boyfriend moved in, then the sister, then my friend. They ended up having ducks in the backyard (in Nedlands!) but the neighbours were so very happy to have quieter people living there that the ducks were welcome reliefs. They (the ducks) loved the overgrown vine in the backyard and abundance of snails. We’d go egg hunting as they hid their eggs in all the plants gone wild.

    I believe only 3 people lived in that house at any one point though. Any Perthians know the house I’m talking about? Enchanted Forest or some-such?

  2. AHAHAHA! I lived in a band house (read: party house) with a goth industrial band for two years in college. 7 people, 1 house….and I was a quiet little English major. We called it the Nightmare House.

    Another piece of advice: if you live in a house with a lot of heavy partiers, have a bathroom that’s off limits if possible. I remember one time I had gone to bed and the next morning I had work…but there was a drunk stranger in the shower, sleeping. I’d recommend straight-up locking it and keeping a key after a certain point so that things like that don’t happen and make you late to work!

    And talk about getting out of hand…I remember one time in class a person *I didn’t even know* told me he heard there was an orgy at my house. In my living room. So yeah…that’s the sort of thing you really, really don’t want to hear about second-hand!

    Also, one more word of caution: my husband got sued because an underage drunk girl fell off the porch. He was actually not even at the party, but was unloading his car from a show at the time, but because one random person told the drunk girl later that it was his house, he was the only one blamed (even though she was drunk *when she got there*, he wasn’t with her, didn’t know her, blah blah blah). Suffice it to say, be very wary of people you don’t know arriving and getting injured because even if it isn’t your fault, you can still get in trouble. If my husband hadn’t gotten the suit dropped (the landlord ended up taking responsibility because they’d repeatedly asked for the porch to be repaired), we could have been financially ruined.

      • I live in Montana and we had a place that started as the “PowerHouse” and eventually became the “Dude House.” I wish I had known of the Castle back in my college days. It must be a montana thing.

  3. Oh wow! It sounds like how halls of residence were in my mind – but never lived up to!

    A lost and found box and a weekly joint cleaning session might have saved a lot of arguments at uni, too.

  4. Yes! This sounds so familiar. I lived in a co-op with 20 people in two victorians, and those rules were all at our parties. A few more pieces of party advice, if I may:

    1. Have 2 dedicated sober people who live there cruising the party, in addition to the bouncer in the front, so you can kick out anyone about to start a fight, saying messed up things, or chaperon anyone who’s too drunk. Have these people marked for other party goers to find them. This has saved a lot of drunk girls from drunk guys who didn’t understand when they’d been shot down.

    2. Talk to your neighbors before the party. Give them the number of one of the sober people, and ask them to call that number before calling the cops. Explain that calling the party direct, as well as not getting you a ticket, will get the music turned down faster. Invite them to the party.

    3. Get used to kicking people out when the party is over. You might have a few super drunks who need to stay until they sober up a little, but when someone’s explaining to you that they don’t have to leave because they know the birthday girl, you have to learn to be comfortable asking who the birthday girl is, revealing that she doesn’t live here, nor is she one of the 10-15 basically-live-heres, and that anyway, this party was a fundraiser for a friend’s top surgery, not a birthday party. Then show them the door.

    • Yes, yes, yes to number one. I remember a party at our old place where one of the guests decided it would be funny to steal people’s keys and wallets and hide them through out the house. We had a HUGE house so people never finding these things would have been a legitimate concern. Luckily my sober now-husband simply followed him around and moved things back to where he had gotten them from. He hasn’t been to another party of ours.

  5. That sounds like where I use to live! Ours was “The Church”. It was an old mansion that was turned into a “Bible college” when the owner went crazy and “found God”. It had 8 bedrooms and 8 bathrooms, a sanctuary with a stage where we had bands play, it had two kitchens, and it was out of town on 15 acres. IMAGINE THE PARTIES!!!!! OMG it ROCKED! We had festivals out there, there was a pond and a tire swing in the woods, we could get on the roof, it was amazing. When my husband and I saw that it was for rent again we considered selling our house just to rent it again.

    • That sounds like a perfect commune house … I want to live there so badly now. Our conflicts with roommates almost always spawned from a) a lack of bathrooms or b) a lack of kitchens. Two kitchens and 8 bathrooms and I could live with all my favorite people with out coming to hate them!

  6. That is epic. We just walk into our neighbors house. It goes like this:
    *knock on door*
    *walk in*
    Sometimes there’s only my one neighbor there, other times there’s 25 kids crammed into a 1 bedroom apartment. It’s great because I can literally crawl back to my apartment, all 5 feet away.

  7. Ah, this brings back memories!

    For the first 2-years right after I graduated from college, I lived in a 4 bedroom town home with myself, my boyfriend, and 6 other roommates, affectionately dubbed “The Townhouse.” Lots of epic partying and crazy adventures took place in The Townhouse.

  8. Oh I love this house!!! It is highly reminiscent of our party house. The whole things was tile and had FOUR sliding glass doors so we could literally hose out the common areas after parties.
    This house had been sublet and re-rented from graduating seniors to underclassmen friends for a minimum of 15 years. We were always getting cool people stopping by and we could trace back who knew who forever. Our mailman lived there and the dude who did the lawn of the people next door lost his virginity on the roof so he always mowed our lawn for free! Every weekend during football season any alums in town dropped by. There would be parties with people there who ranged from 18-30. It was such a fun gathering place.

    Now I’m feeling kind of sad and nostalgic sitting alone in my grown up posh apartment. Maybe I’ll throw some solo cups on the ground and find a girl to puke in the fireplace.

  9. That tour is AWESOME.

    For party houses, I find that signs are SO key. Such as “Got a drink in your hand? Get off the fucking sidewalk” and “Trespassers subject to removal.” I also find it helpful to post up photos of the people who live in the house… with a sign: “These people may cut in line in front of you for the bathroom… no exceptions.”

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