Hillsdale House Info

  • Each of the three 9th/10th houses (Florence, Kyoto, and Oaxaca) is named after an important medieval town in honor of our school mascot, the Knight.  The 11th/12th Houses (Cusco, Jakarta, and Timbuktu) are named after other cities throughout the world that have made major contributions to culture and society. For more information on the inspiration for each house, see the information below.

  • Kyoto

    While Hillsdale has long been associated with its mascot- the Knight of medieval Europe- other parts of the world were developing vibrant and important cultures during the same period. Kyoto became the capital of Japan in the 8th century in what came to be known as the Heian or "Peace and Tranquility" Period. At a time when other peoples of the world were in the throes of bloody conquests and invasions, the people of Kyoto/Japan were able to take advantage of a period of unprecedented peace to focus on learning, the arts, and the development of a thriving economy.

    As the final stop on the Silk Road, Kyoto learned from other cultures and then developed a unique culture of its own. One of the first novels ever written, The Tale of Genji, was written by a woman living in Kyoto at this time, and even today Kyoto remains a center of scholarship and artistic development. Kyoto, although briefly put on the list of targets considered for the atomic bombings at the end of World War II, was spared the destruction most cities in Japan suffered due to its extreme beauty and cultural significance. It was also the site of the Kyoto Protocol, a document drafted in conjunction with many nations, which called on the world to work together to preserve the environment we all share. Because of the values and history the city of Kyoto represents, the people of Kyoto House at Hillsdale chose to adopt this name.


    Jakarta, located on Java Island, is both the capital and largest city in Indonesia. Its colonial history is often viewed in three different parts - its time as the center of the Dutch East India Company, its period of expansion, and its modernization, beginning in 1920. Diversity largely characterizes Jakarta - it is often said that Jakarta is where different cultures and beliefs from Indonesia's 17,000 islands unite. Moreover, because of its history, Jakarta experiences a "historic mix of cultures," as people of Javanese, Malay, Chinese, Arab, Indian, and European descent have brought their culture, architecture, food, and even language to Indonesia's largest city. Because of this, Jakarta offers its visitors an interesting combination of western and Indonesian traditions.


    Located at roughly 3,400m above sea level in the Andes, Cusco is a city in Peru primarily remembered as the capital of the Inca Empire, which dominated a large portion of South America between the 15th and 16th century. During its time as an imperial city, Cusco was seen as an urban center, largely characterized by religion, government, and royalty. The Incas developed their own aesthetic with their respect for the arts and technology, and their pre-Hispanic influence is still visible in Cusco today. The Spanish later conquered the city of Cusco in the 16th century, and though much of the city was preserved, much of the city also changed with temples, monasteries, and manors being built. The fusion of Inca and Spanish culture, art, and history soon helped transform Cusco into a hub of expression and innovation, which is especially seen in, as UNESCO says, a "unique urban structure and architectural form."


    Oaxaca, a state and city located in Southwestern Mexico, was the site of a thriving Zapotec population at Monte Alban until the 13th century when the Aztecs assumed control shortly thereafter. Oaxaca has held strategic military importance for centuries and is the birthplace of Mexico’s former president, Benito Juarez. Today, Oaxaca is the most linguistically and ethnically diverse state in all of Mexico with over 100 indigenous languages spoken. Oaxaca City is a UNESCO world heritage site, noted for its beautiful representation of culture and architecture, which spans every major period in Mexico’s long history. In addition to its vibrant culture and history, Oaxaca is a major producer of coffee, chocolate, and alebrijes, hand carved and painted wooden figurines. Because of its ethnic diversity, storied history, and continuing cultural significance, Oaxaca was chosen as the new house name by faculty and staff as it represents some of the principal values embraced at Hillsdale.


    Florence House was named in honor of the city of Florence, a small, independent city-state that became the center of art and learning during the transition from the medieval age to the Renaissance. Florentines bestowed equal value on individual achievement and contributions to the community; a well-rounded education was, therefore, essential. Florence's unique celebration of the human spirit inspired some of the landmark achievements of Western Civilization, such as Leonardo Da Vinci's scientific inquiries, Michelangelo's David, and Brunelleschi's Dome.

    Like this great city, Florence House encourages each individual to reach his or her creative and intellectual potential. Through the personalization and rigorous curriculum that Florence provides, our students become not only well-rounded individuals at Hillsdale, but also life-long learners and citizens of the world.


    Timbuktu is located in Eastern Africa, in modern day Mali.  It was an academic, spiritual, and cultural center of Islam in the 15th and 16th centuries. It’s location was the gateway into the Sahara and a critical point in trade routes.  Home of the Koranic Sankore University and several other educational institutes, Timbuktu drew scholars and commerce, encouraging the transfer of not only goods, but ideas and customs as well.