The stone inscription above the fireplace in Ladd House reads, "The Ornament of a House is the Friends That Frequent It." While Dining Unit Manager Mark Dickey does not disagree with this adage, he said something equally appropriate: "the ornament of the house [Ladd] the kitchen."

Ladd is unique among the College Houses for its state-of-the-art culinary facility. While some of the other seven college houses have well-endowed kitchens, Ladd's is a notch above the rest.

As Associate Director of Dining Service Ken Cardone reported, Ladd's commercial kitchen contains a walk-in refrigerator, a reach-in freezer, a six-stove burner, a food steamer, a powerful convection oven, a small flattop grill, a three-compartment sink, and an industrial-size dishwasher.

Neverthelss, most Ladd residents have never even stepped inside the kitchen, let alone cooked in it—access to the space is restricted. The doors to the kitchen and dishwasher are kept locked by the Office of Residential Life, which makes decisions about who can access the facility.

The strict policies were put into place because the kitchen's appliances pose dangers that most students have not had exposure to.

For instance, Cardone pointed out that the pilot lights on stoves and the kitchen's oven, which is over three times more powerful than a typical oven, pose specific fire threats.

If students do wish to make use of the kitchen, however, there is a way. According to Cardone, Dining offers a 45-minute instructional course that goes over various safety and informational measures, including the correct way to open and close the kitchen as well as proper use of the commercial fire repression system.

Each time students use the kitchen, they must pay a $45 fee to cover the cost of a having a Dining Service staff member ensure the facility is properly sanitized and maintained after each use.

While Ladd does have a modest kitchen open to students that contains the usual essentials, the locked door to the commercial kitchen leaves some students unsatisfied.

"Everybody wants to use the kitchen," said Ladd House President Max Staiger '13. "We have a small kitchen, but if you have a state-of-the art industrial kitchen, you want to use it."

Staiger said a few house members wanted to sign up for the instructional course with Dining Service on how to properly use the kitchen, but no one has completed the training yet. According to Staiger, many Ladd residents were interested in using the kitchen to host a campus-wide lecture series featuring various Bowdoin professors.

Though house residents are frustrated with the policies, the safety concerns of Cardone and the rest of the Dining Service are not without merit. Cardone cited an incident in which a student placed bags on top of the commercial kitchen's stove. The stove's pilot lights lit the bags on fire and prompted the student to use the fire repression system.

The powerful system covered the kitchen in fire retardant and, according to Cardone, sounded "like a freight train."

Despite such accidents, Staiger expressed the view of some of his fellow house members when he said, "What it's coming down to is that we're responsible and old enough to use something like that [the kitchen]. We understand that it is valuable and shouldn't be abused. We understand that it is part of being in a house to maintain it responsibly."

While debates over accessibility remain, the commercial kitchen in Ladd House should not be seen as a deserted room.

Cardone noted that in the past student organizations, like the Food Co-op and Plates for Peace, as well as outside organizations like Upward Bound have used the kitchen.

In addition, Dining Service utilizes the kitchen for Bowdoin-sponsored events: most recently, this was a barbeque welcoming Osher and West residents to their respective affiliated College Houses, Ladd and Baxter.

Despite the debates about access, Ladd's culinary endowment has long been a point of pride for residents of the House. Before being dedicated Ladd House in 2002, the building was home to the Chi Delta Phi fraternity and, before that, the Zeta Psi fraternity.

From the early 1980s to the mid 1990s, Dickey enjoyed a 13-year reign as the head cook for the fraternity house. He remembers working with students in the kitchen and serving family-style meals to members.

Dickey mentioned that he often tried to keep snack foods like sandwiches and bagels available throughout the day. When students did use the kitchen, he noted he always told them to "clean up and be safe."

The kitchen was even bigger during its fraternity years. After taking over the house, the College, according to Dickey, renovated the kitchen and reduced the kitchen's size by about one third.

He noted that the kitchen was an important part of house life for the fraternity members.

"They treated me very well, the kids really cared about the way [the kitchen] was perceived," he said. "A lot of other students were jealous."

Despite current concerns about its use, Ladd's "great little kitchen", as Cardone calls it, will remain a defining feature of the house.