Athletes hoping to work off holiday calories will be using the facilities at the Gordon Track and Tennis Center, because the Carey Cage is no more.
The 98-year-old cage was torn down last Friday to make room for an expanded entrance to the University's athletic complex and to accommodate a planned racquet facility, University administrators said earlier this month. All that remained of the building yesterday afternoon was a heap of splintered wood and twisted metal.
Despite a last-minute flurry of protests from historians concerned that a significant building was being destroyed, the University apparently moved its plans forward and demolished the building last Friday, rather than waiting until this week as scheduled.
Margaret Floyd, author of a well-known book on Harvard architecture and a professor of architectural history at Tufts University, said the University should have listened to appeals from historians and architects such as herself, who urged Harvard to find alternative uses for the building.
According to Floyd and other architectural historians, the cage was built in 1897 and was designed by Langford Warren, who was the first dean of the Harvard School of Design.
At that time Warren was a draftsman in the architectural offices of H.H. Richardson, who designed many of Boston's most architecturally-significant buildings, as well as many the stations of the Boston T's orange line.
"It is the link between Richardson's railway stations and Frank Lloyd Wright's prairie houses," Floyd said yesterday. "And it was the only one left."
Floyd said the cage was also historically valuable as the fist steel-frame building at Harvard.
Although dismayed that the University destroyed a historic building, Floyd said she is most upset that the bureaucratic safeguards in place failed to stop the demolition.
The Boston Landmark Commission held a hearing on the proposed destruction, but according to Floyd the hearing was posted for just one day and historical groups failed to realize the building's significance.
Architectural historian Douglass Shand-Tucci '72, author of Built in Boston, a book on area architectural history, said yesterday the University should have known better than to tear down such an important building without considering its past.
"You just expect a little more than this from Harvard," Shand-Tucci said. "It's just getting to be monumentally embarrassing that the administrators are such philistines."
Shand-Tucci, who served as a tutor in Eliot House during the 80's and wrote a number of articles on Harvard architecture for Harvard Magazine, said he fears the destruction of the cage is part of a trend of neglect for architectural history at the University.
Citing the controversial additions to Memorial Hall, the decision to divide the Freshman Union's great space into separate offices and now the decision to demolish the cage, Shand-Tucci said: "History is important to Harvard. Even the crudest person would realize that it's not very good for Harvard to be dumping on its history in this way."
Rather than blaming those at the top of the University's power structure, Shand-Tucci faults Harvard's growing bureaucracy, saying the decision to destroy the cage was likely made by "some lower level bureaucrat who wouldn't know the history of Harvard from the history of Stanford."