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Putting the Houses in Order


By J. WYATT Emmerich

Don't count your chickens before they're hatched, the old adage says, but Harvard has always been a bit iconoclastic when it comes to going against such time-proven advice. The renovation plans recently drawn up in University Hall testify to Harvard's knack for looking ahead.

The University is currently drawing up blueprints for the complete overhaul of the electrical, plumbing and heating systems of most River Houses--renovations that could cost somewhere around $1-2 million.

University administrators also plan to enlarge the dining halls of Adams, Kirkland and Winthrop Houses at a cost of about $250,000 by relocating the food service lines, Francis A. Lawton, assistant dean for facilities, said this week.

But all those plans and outlines are entirely contingent upon the impending University capital fund drive--a five-year, $250 million drive that is expected to be unveiled in detail sometime next year.

The inside word is that the University--if it comes anywhere close to fulfilling the goals of the mammoth fund drive--will almost surely cough up $1 or $2 million crumb to get rid of the obsolete electrical, heating and plumbing systems that are supposed to protect the well-being of thousands of Harvard students.

That guess is especially true in light of the attitude of several House masters, who are apparently growing weary of gazing at UHall money as it sails off toward the sunset up at the Quad--as it has been recently, under the University's policy of diverting renovation funds to the Radcliffe buildings.

High building costs over the past several years, general inflation, and a Corporation policy of giving housing improvements to the Quad have all worked together to delay much-needed improvements in various River Houses, Ann B. Spence, associate dean of the College, said.

One House master said this week there are rooms in his House that are literally uninhabitable because of faulty heating systems. Another master complained about faulty wiring systems that short-circuit with surprising regularity.

But John Harvard takes care of all. In a few years the University's financial and fundraising wizards, will probably have worked their wonders, and the River House residents can live in an even larger lap of luxury.

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