For eight days in early March, a Harvard-owned building-the Architectural Technology Workshop at 888 Memorial Drive-was held by about 100 militant women as a "Liberated Women's Center." Amidst rumors and threats of an imminent bust by police, the building was finally vacated March 15.
The building-part of the Treelands site slated for demolition to make room for more graduate student housing-was returned to the Graduate School of Design, where it houses two classes per week. The women, after a triumphant march through Cambridge, stepped up their two-year search for a suitable center.
Right now, negotiations are being completed on a $28,000 house near Central Square. The $9000 needed for down payment has already been donated anonymously.
Meanwhile, 888 Memorial Drive, a huge, barnlike building near Peabody Terrace, has been newly cleaned and painted over. Spray-panted slogans-"Welcome Sisters," "Free Ericka and Angela"-are gone from the walls; the only words over the door read "Hingham Knitting Company."
The actual seizure of the building-the culmination of a March 6 march commemorating International Women's Day-caught most of Harvard by surprise. Few of the 150 women on the march themselves knew of their eventual destination or could identify the organizers-a group of from eight to twenty members of local Women's Liocration groups.
The women's first statement, issued at 3 p. m. Saturday (March 6), declared "this liberated building a Women's Center where women from all over will be able to meet with each other, exchange ideas and feelings, and determine what we need to do together."
That evening the building was filled to crowding with women from Radcliffe, Bread and Roses, Gay Liocration, and other local groups. Supporters provided tables of food, mostly organic, and mattresses and blankets.
At 7:15 p. m. Saturday, Maurice Kilbridge, dean of the Graduate School of Design, issued his first statement, calling the seizure "unauthorized and unlawful." He said the women were subject to "grave dangers" because of inadequate plumbing and heating facilities.
Although the University kept the heat turned off during the entire period, the women managed to restore the plumbing facilities by Sunday afternoon.
By about 1 a. m. Sunday most of the women had left the building and gone home, leaving about three dozen to stay the night. By that afternoon, however, about 100 had again gathered to discuss further plans and tactics. Their 6 p. m. Sunday press release said. "The University has stated that this building is unavailable. We agree. This building now belongs to the women of this city."
During the afternoon meeting. Saundra Graham, president of the Riverside Planning Team-residents of the neighboring Riverside community who have been fighting Harvard for low-cost housing over the past two years-spoke with women at the Center.
The women later announced themselves in support of the Riverside Planning Team, and claimed to have Graham's support. Later in the week Graham denied any connection with the occupiers of the building, but by Friday appeared to have ironed out difficulties with the women.
Acting in unofficial capacity, Graham explained to the women that she had feared with their intervention the community would lose its role in negotiations with Harvard over low-income housing to be built on the Treelands site.
The demands issued by the women-formulated after Sunday afternoon's meeting-were:
That Harvard build low-income housing on this, the Treelands site, in accordance with the demands of the Riverside Community;