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Chesterton House

A Center for Christian Studies at Cornell




Chesterton House exists to help Cornell students make holistic connections between Christian faith and academic study. But even as we affirm your calling as students and encourage you to take your studies seriously, we also affirm that students are more than “brains on sticks.” Our bodies need to rest, to play, to cry, and to be regularly sustained with food. All of which is to say nothing of our deepest needs for community—meaningful relationships with classmates, neighbors, and the Maker of Heaven and Earth. 

This living-learning community makes space for the faithful intersection of your “head” and your “hands.” What would it look like for a Cornell student to leave the room of detached individualism and step into a space where we might become more like Christ through embodied practices—praying for the world, cooking dinner for roommates, cleaning the bathroom, celebrating life, and even entering into shared lament.

The men’s residence, called “Chesterton House,” and the female residence, known as the “Sophia House,” together create one community purposed to reflect this Christian reality to the Cornell campus and beyond.

We are currently taking applications for the men's house for the 2018-19 year (the women's house is full). Incoming first-year students may apply.



Jesus and his disciples ate a lot, and so do we. The entire community dines together Sunday evenings, and most are part of a cooperative house meal plan other evenings as well. Residents take turns cooking and cleaning in small groups and shopping for food. We regularly practice hospitality by inviting others to dinner as well. 

We live together in part to encourage each other in faith. Spiritual formation is key to the living community. Each resident will meet regularly with a Chesterton House staff member--this can take the form of prayer, book discussions, or biblical exploration. This will be contextualized for the interests, studies, or needs of the students. 

As one pundit famously put it, everybody wants to save the earth, but nobody wants to help do the dishes. Ever since the first century church, spiritual formation has been a matter of 24/7 practice--i.e., something that happens in the kitchen as much as the library. This community is about more than Christians eating and sleeping under the same roof, but intentionally encouraging and challenging one another, sharpening one another, and working out salvation with one another.

Chesterton House exists to help students think carefully and to 'think Christianly' about all areas of life and learning. We have a library on-site with thousands of volumes of the best Christian scholarship, classic and contemporary, as well as subscriptions to 15 periodicals. It's not unusual to find discussions about God, vocation, and the meaning of life happening at any and all hours of day and night.

Christian faith is enacted. It entails service to others, and we are committed to representing Christ in the Cornell and Ithaca communities amidst our busy schedules.

The best way to get a feel for the Chesterton House residential community is to visit, especially for dinner. In the meantime, some elements of community life include the following:

  • Spiritual Formation
  • Weekly House Dinners
  • Civic Engagement
  • Semesterly Retreats

Rental Rates are competitive and less than Cornell housing rates

For an application to the men's or women's community, contact us:
Decisions are made on a rolling basis.