John, Boxed

Tour buses roll in and fans line up to be photographed with Harvard's seminal superstar, John Harvard, and touch his gleaming toe. It must be summer.

This season saw the bronzed demigod enshrined in plywood and lit by a floodlight as construction crews raced to meet a January deadline for completing renovations on University Hall, backdrop for the "Founder."

Not since 1969's forcible evictions have the deans relinquished their Bulfinch-designed building: a poorly plumbed, barely heated, and handicapped-inaccessible stone palace (see "Hallowed, Harrowed University Hall," May-June 1999, page 71). Its litany of deficiencies will soon be corrected. Inside, the doors to the first-floor deans' offices were unbarred, unhinged, and stacked like lumber against the naked walls of the empty second-floor faculty room (see below). Behind the building, the historic privies were temporarily reincarnated as Porta Potties.

At Widener Library, the massive project to create two new reading rooms in the light court continued (see "Big Doings at Widener Library," July-August 1999, page 76), while Gibbs Laboratory, the 1911 design of A.W. Longfellow (architect as well of the Semitic Museum), stood gutted and glassless, awaiting the wrecking ball. A state-of-the-art genomics facility and associated bioresearch laboratory space will replace it.


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