The shrubbery-flanked asphalt driveway of 62/64 Kirkwood Road looks just like the one next to it. And the one next to that, and the one next to that.
A 20-minute stroll from Boston College’s campus, the two-story brick duplex has no discernible architectural style but instead resembles a large brown rectangle with twin porches and dormer windows. Like most houses in Boston’s Brighton section, it seems nothing out of the ordinary—until you go underground.
There you’ll find a soundproof basement with state-of-the-art in-wall speakers and a lighting system that outshines that of local dive bars.
This is Club Kirk, the not-so-hidden gem of the Jesuit university’s social scene beneath the off-campus residence of a revolving cast of 20 undergraduates.
To BC students, Club Kirk is a “vortex,” a “catharsis,” and a “landmark.”
But it might not be there forever.
When Isaac Browne was given the opportunity as a sophomore to live at 62/64 Kirkwood, he didn’t think twice. Signing that lease a year in advance meant avoiding the scramble for off-campus junior housing—giving him one less thing to worry about.
What Browne didn’t know was that this house wasn’t any old beer-soaked shack off of Commonwealth Avenue. It was Club Kirk.
“It wasn’t until months later that I found out, and then I was, like, ‘Oh, shit,’” he said. “There’s kind of a standard at that place. It has a reputation and you have to uphold that reputation.”
Whether it’s the tricked-out basement, the time-honored prestige, or, most likely, a combination of the two, Club Kirk is the only house that has a name to it around BC’s campus, for better or for worse.
“If someone asked, it was kind of fun to say I lived there,” said Browne, MCAS ‘19. “I didn’t know if it was something to be proud of or ashamed of. But it carried something.”
Between the robust sound system, music-coordinated lighting, and a mahogany-paneled “smoke room” that boasts a red tin ceiling and stained-glass light fixtures, the basement draws a crowd. On its sweatier nights, it has accommodated as many as 200 partiers between the low wooden ceiling and red Solo cup-littered floor of its main room. And it’s even gone viral: last year, comedian Eric Andre retweeted a video of BC students chugging ranch dressing at a Halloween party there.
As Browne quickly realized, the fame of Club Kirk is a double-edged sword.
Living there meant he and his roommates rarely left; friends would come to them to hang out. And spending all that time together, the 10 guys living in Browne's unit became very close very quickly.
For Browne, the house brought some of the “highest highs” of his college career. But also a lot of lows.
Browne was a biology major at BC: pre-med, self-disciplined. But some of his roommates, he said, didn’t have the same rigorous course load or ability to put their heads down and do the work when it needed to get done.
“Sometimes it was hard to sleep there, especially on a weekend,” Browne said. “I’d be studying for exams, and literally 24/7 music would be going through that house. You could hear the bass from the basement. And that just kind of became my lullaby.”
They called the house a “vortex” because it would “suck you in.” If you were around, you’d have to hang out, and if you had other obligations—well, you were out of luck.
Browne had to adjust so that his GPA wouldn’t.
“I would look like an idiot every single day because I would bring this massive duffle bag to campus filled with all of my gym clothes, all of my meals for the day, and all of the books that I needed. Because I knew that I wasn’t going to be going back to my house.”
He got used to the occasional eyebrow raise and inquiry as to whether he was traveling somewhere and accepted his new normal.
But some obstacles can’t be avoided.
Sage DuBois, MCAS ‘21, Peter Kittredge, MCAS ‘21, and Alex Martinage, CSOM ‘21, current residents of 62/64 Kirkwood, have had their fair share.
“Probably the most interesting thing is that everybody knows the house and its reputation, so there will be people who just walk up on random nights when we’re not throwing parties,” said Kittredge. “They’ll just walk in and ask, ‘Are you throwing a party?’”
Notoriety among the student body means the house has a target on its back from the university. And even when Club Kirk isn’t throwing a party, the party finds Club Kirk. Students show up on any given Saturday night, word spreads, and soon dozens of intoxicated strangers are loitering in the driveway.
“One nice thing about the house was that it was soundproof, so if 200 people were inside, you couldn’t tell from the outside,” said Browne. “But if we didn’t let them in, that would leave 100 people in the road. And that’s where the difficulties really came from.”
One unadvertised bonus that comes with the house? A vigilante-turned-official “off-campus RA” who allegedly has it out for its residents year after year.
“Wow. He was our enemy. We were mortal enemies. He was worse than the police. There were even times the police would come to our house and warn us that the RA was coming,” said Browne.
“Oh, he hates fun. He’s absolutely allergic to fun,” said DuBois. “I remember in the fall, he said: ‘The boys who lived here last year ended up going to court. We’ll see how long it takes for you to get there.’”
They were talking about Stephen Montgomery. When gatherings at Club Kirk do attract unwanted attention, they can always count on Montgomery to make an appearance. He has served as BC’s off-campus community liaison for at least a decade but was a fixture of the off-campus community long before.
“I don’t know anything for certain, but this is what I’ve been told: He was kind of an RA for 15 years before he was even affiliated with BC,” said Browne. “He would drive around busting parties just for fun. And that, on principle, is why we hated him from the start. Because it was his life passion, he loved doing it.”
Montgomery declined in an email to be interviewed about Club Kirk.
Drawbacks considered, the appeal of living at a place like Club Kirk boils down to three main factors: it’s bonding, it’s gratifying, and, well, it’s really fun.
Chalk it up to the fratty atmosphere or the shared trauma, but there’s something about living at Club Kirk that breeds brotherhood. Its current residents named their flag football team after the house, Browne and his ex-roommates still text in their group chat regularly, and Martinage (presumably) joked that he and his roommates have Club Kirk tattoos.
There’s never a dull moment. Last semester, Dubois said, some firefighters came by the house to check out a potential carbon monoxide problem. While surveying the basement, they came across a tiny door that had been bolted shut and asked if the guys wanted it open. After breaking the lock, they found a relic inside: an old beer keg covered in cobwebs.
And the basement doesn’t hurt. A few years back, a wealthy alum who apparently lived in the house all four years he attended BC spared no expense to make it party-friendly—speakers, lighting, and smoke room included. But for some reason, no one seems to know who.
“I’ve heard legends,” said Dubois. “The story I heard was that it was a BC crew alum who didn’t appreciate the way the university allowed its students to celebrate the coming of the weekend, so he bought two houses and renovated them for BC students. The crew boys tell me that he’s now in the marijuana business. Take that with a grain of salt.”
Aside from stoking rumors and keeping Stephen Montgomery on his toes, Club Kirk serves a greater purpose at Boston College, where only 44 percent of students rated their stress level as average or less than average.
“People at BC work really hard. A lot of people had aspired to go to the Ivy Leagues and stuff like that,” said Kittredge. “So I think it exists for the purpose of being able to blow off some steam and party off-campus ‘cause you can’t really do it on campus.”
“There’s a lot of pressure to be this polished sort of human being that does a ton of service, succeeds, is super fit, dresses super nice, is well off. And at least for me, it was just kind of a break from that,” said Browne. “You could dress however you wanted, dance however you wanted… and just not care for a while and try to help others not care for a while. Because we have to care so much all the time.”
For many BC students, Club Kirk is an escape. Browe wore a bathrobe to most of his parties, just because he could. Kittredge and his roommates hosted a “yellow party,” not thinking anyone would take the theme seriously. Of an invited 200 students, more than a quarter of them showed up wearing yellow clothing.
“I think BC is very worried about the public image––you know, Chestnut Hill, everything is very prim and proper,” said Dubois. “So the existence of Club Kirk is kind of just a testament to BC students’ grit and determination to enjoy themselves. We won’t go down without a fight, you know?”
Tatyana Sherban has been the landlord of 62/64 Kirkwood Road for just over a year.
She said she pays four times what her neighbors do for insurance, and that she recently had to find a new carrier. About three months ago, an agent came by to inspect the house, took one look at the scattered empty beer cans and kegs in the basement, and told her his company wouldn’t cover her anymore.
Bottle caps jamming the garbage disposal, cigarette-clogged toilets, and holes in the walls are just a few of the repairs that Sherban said consume her income from the rent.
“Yeah, I get a lot of calls. Complaints about noise or trash. The police are at the house at 1 a.m. I try to talk to the boys. They respond, but it never lasts,” she said. “It does affect me. And I don’t think they realize that.”
But while she acknowledged the challenges of owning this particular property, Sherban laughed while talking about it. She said she likes working with students.
“You know, when kids get drunk they do things that they wouldn’t usually do,” she said. “Actually, I can see they’re getting mature. This year is probably good for them to learn how to be out there and independent.”
Now, with the COVID-19 pandemic sending most of Club Kirk’s inhabitants back to their hometowns and making it harder to collect rent, Sherban was worried she’d be forced to stop.
Until last week, she wasn’t sure if anyone would pay rent. And because courts are largely closed, she wouldn’t have been able to proceed with eviction and might have faced foreclosure.
“If nobody pays,” she said, “the BC community will lose their landmark.”
Sherban has now received most of her rent payment for this month, so Club Kirk is safe—at least for the time being. Without it, Boston College would be a less colorful place.
“My parents would always call it Animal House, but it wasn’t like this place of complete degeneracy,” said Browne. “It had that vibe at times, but it was a great home, a great brotherhood, it was great catharsis. I will say though, by the end of it, I was ready to get the fuck out of there.”
Editor's note: Isaac Browne is a pseudonym used at the source's request.