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University Sees Renovation Blitz

Memorial Church, Sever, Hasty Pudding undergo modernizing renovations

Paul M. Soper

Construction continues outside Memorial Church, part of a $3 million overhaul of the Harvard landmark. Harvard is undergoing “a period of unprecedented facilities growth,” according to the Faculty of Arts and Sciences website.

Students no longer stroll along the much-traversed sidewalk between Thayer Hall and Memorial Church, now closed off from traffic by tall, mesh-covered chain-link fences. The walkway is just one of the parts in and around Harvard Yard that has fallen victim to summer construction.

The FAS website proclaims this summer “a period of unprecedented facilities growth,” as the College attempts to renovate and restore much of campus before students return in the fall.

“We were hoping to get as much demolition, in the Pudding and so on, done as possible over the summer, because that’s the really noisy stuff,” Dean of the College Benedict H. Gross ’71 said.

“The timing is carefully coordinated to minimize the disruption of campus activities and to occur when the fewest students, faculty, and staff need to be in the buildings,” said Linda Snyder, an associate executive dean at the Faculty of Arts and Sciences for physical resources and planning. “Of course, Harvard never shuts down, so we are careful to protect passersby and summer school students and staff.”

PUDDING ON A SHOW

This past Tuesday, work began in earnest on the gutting of the Holyoke Street building that was formerly home to the Hasty Pudding Institute.

Slated for completion in two years, the Holyoke Street building will be known as the New College Theatre. Harvard plans to preserve the Pudding’s Georgian facade while replacing the rich and historic but dilapidated interior with a newer, more technologically sophisticated theater.

Renovations will replace approximately two-thirds of the building, adding rehearsal space on the third floor and office space on the lowest level.

“We have a strong arts heritage here at Harvard,” Gross said in a statement. “The Hasty Pudding Theatricals is in the forefront of that heritage, having been a fixture here since the late 1700s. We are very happy that we will be able to give them, and several other student performance groups at Harvard, a wonderful new home so that old traditions may continue, and new ones may begin.”

MODERNIZING THE CHURCH

Memorial Church, which is undergoing a $3 million overhaul, is just one of the many sites of construction that has seen ground broken, foundations laid, and stalwart edifices cleaned and restored this summer.

“It’s been in the works for a long time. The interior of the church was in lovely condition, but structurally there were some things that needed fixing,” said Director of Development for Memorial Church James R. Salzmann ’02.

The Harvard chapel’s granite steps are being entirely removed and reinstalled this summer, correcting structural problems that had left the stairs lopsided and cracked. The brick substructure beneath the steps had weakened due to the freeze-and-thaw cycle of cold weather, according to Epps Fellow and Chaplain to Harvard College Mark D.W. Edington.

“We found in removing the treads that some of the brick piers were in such poor condition that the masons were able to take them apart by hand,” Edington wrote in an e-mail.

The renovations also included updating safety systems and bringing fire and sprinkler systems into line with revised code.

The project is funded largely through University funds.

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