Crimson Building Gets Facelift, Loses `Gritty Newsroom' Feel

The narrow brick building on 14 Plympton St., which houses The Harvard Crimson, has seen everything from a vodka-sipping cat to bathroom graffiti wars--and even the occasional newspaper being published.

According to many former Crimson editors, the dust of ages, as well as a certain alcoholic feline, gave the building a distinctive character before 1991, when the building underwent its first major renovations in its 83-year history.

"[The old building] was a dump, but it was a grand dump," says Julian E. Barnes '93, Crimson president in 1992.

According to Joseph R. Palmore '91 and other pre-renovation Crimson editors, limited technology was among the most serious problems with the "endearingly decrepit" old building.

Former Crimson President Jonathan S. Cohn '91 recalls all too well the problems editors faced with the old computers.


"I remember very vividly sitting with my back on the floor, under the computer, with the speaker phone connected to tech support as they tried to talk me through a rescue on a hard drive that had overheated," he says.

"To make it work, as I recall," he continues, "I had to blow on it really hard."

Cramped spaces and malfunctioning computers went with the territory in the old building, but there was a tradeoff.

"Some people my year felt like the paper lost some of its character [after the renovations]," says Maggie S. Tucker '93, co-managing editor in 1992.

She recalls a shouting match two editors once had over a 90-inch feature on Cambridge elections.

At the argument's climax, the senior editor threw a hot cup of coffee at the junior editor; luckily, the cup of coffee just missed the junior editor's head and landed on the keyboard instead.

"I just can't imagine that happening at the modern-day Crimson," she says.

The women's bathroom was one piece of Crimson history that was lost with the new and modernized building.

Covered with empowering graffiti, it would periodically be painted over, only to be covered again in empowering graffiti. (See Diversity, page 5)

Legendary Crimson characters also seemed to dwindle after the renovation.

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