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Although no walls have been torn down and no rooms gutted--yet--the University-owned Harvard Motor House is no more.
The site of ongoing controversy over a proposed redevelopment, the Motor House last month changed its name to the Harvard Manor House, prompting opponents of the project to speculate that a long fight lies ahead.
Operators of the 70-room inn, however, said the change was simply designed to keep in step with the times.
"The word 'motor' seems a bit out of date and antiquated," said Matthew F. Dooling, the manager of the Harvard Manor House. "We changed our name to sort of update ourselves."
Community activists, however, pointed to the name change as a sign of the success of their efforts to halt the hotel's redevelopment.
"It seems to be conceding that the building isn't going to be comming down anytime soon," said Gladys P. Gifford, president of the Harvard Square Defense Fund.
Manor House staff said that the hotel will likely remain for a longer haul then was initially planned three years ago, when the site's developer, Carpenter and Co., announced their intention to tear the building down and replace it with a complex of shops and offices.
"There is no question in my mind that we will be around," Dooling said. "They held up the One Brattle Square Project for two years, so I think we're good for three or four more years."
Middlesex Superior Court Judge Katherine White recently ruled against Defense Fund members in a suit designed to halt the project, finding that the plaintiffs had no standing to bring a case against the developer.
But White refused to dismiss a related suit brought by City Councillor Francis H. Duehay '55, charging that Paul Dietrich of the city's Zoning Board of Appeal violated state conflict of interest laws by concealing his professional ties with Carpenter and Co. when ruling on the hotel project.
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