Few Friends For Harvard

Seven Sumner Rd., a four-story brick apartment building a block from the Yard, has become an unlikely symbol of Harvard's push outward into surrounding residential neighborhoods.

Eighteen months ago, the Design School first announced its intentions on the building--an eviction notice gave tenants six months to leave. But many of the residents are there still, fighting a legal battle with the University that has been successful thus far.

The Rent Control Board is still considering Harvard's latest request for permission to evict the tenants. Even if the residents win again, however, it will be but a minor victory in a seemingly endless war.

For the record, Harvard twice this year violated its self-imposed agreement not to buy residential property in the city outside carefully-drawn boundaries. The University also donated a $500,000 parcel of land to the city for an elderly housing project and, to the muted delight of community leaders, purchased a $4 million Harvard Square parking lot where a developer had once hoped to build two 20-story towers. This year's small battles are typical of this fight--"you win once in a while, but the University can outwait you," one community activist says.