Currier House is Harvard College’s newest undergraduate residence. It was opened in September 1970, and is named for Audrey Bruce Currier ’56, a philanthropist who was killed along with her husband in a plane crash in 1967. Its four towers are named for distinguished Radcliffe alumnae: Mabel Wheeler Daniels ’00, a composer, educator and musician, Mary Caperton Bingham ’28, a noted newspaperwoman and civic leader, Helen Homans Gilbert ’36, former chair of the Board of Trustees of Radcliffe, and Barbara Wertheim Tuchman ’33, the Pulitzer Prize winning author. The first Master of Currier House was Jerome S. Bruner, Professor of Psychology.
The Currier House arms comprise a red shield, emblazoned with an apple tree surrounded by a bench, all in gold. Above the tree is a black bar, or barrulet, with scalloped edges trimmed with white borders. The red field represents Harvard, the gold tree is the logo that Currier has used since its opening in 1971, and the black bar is taken from the two diagonal stripes of the Radcliffe arms. The tree in fact represents the Radcliffe apple tree, used as a symbol in the fund drive to complete the construction of Currier House. The narrow white borders are required by a heraldic convention but also refer to the white chevron originally proposed for the Harvard College arms. The combination of Harvard and Radcliffe symbols on the House arms serves as a reminder of Radcliffe’s historical role in promoting the education of women at Harvard. The black barrulet indicates the important place that black and other minority students have had in education at Radcliffe and Harvard.
The design refers indirectly to the Currier family. The name Currier, of French origin, denotes artisans who performed the second operation in preparing leather for tanning, that of scraping off the hair. In this process a hide was scraped with a curved knife named a “Currier knife” which are suggested by the scallops induced in the horizontal black Radcliffe barrulet. A reference to the preparation of hides was chosen to suggest that education is a sort of scraping and tanning of the students to make them more supple and useful for life.
Famous Currierites include Caroline Kennedy, Yo-Yo Ma, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Alan Khazei, Paul Attanasio, Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates.