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Adams House Resumes Renovations After Five-Month Delay

Adams House C Entryway.
Adams House C Entryway. By Kai R. McNamee
By Sydnie M. Cobb and Declan J. Knieriem, Crimson Staff Writers

Construction on Adams House has resumed after a five-month hiatus due to the City of Cambridge’s decision to place a moratorium on construction projects in response to the ongoing spread of coronavirus, according to an email sent to House affiliates Saturday.

The House’s renewal project was planned to take place in three phases, beginning with the restoration of Apthorp House — the 260-year-old faculty dean residence — and Claverly Hall.

The Claverly Hall and Apthorp House renovations were originally set to be completed by August 2020 and August 2021, respectively. Because of the moratorium, however, House staff wrote in the email that they are “hopeful” that Claverly Hall construction will conclude by early spring 2021. They also wrote that Apthorp House will resume construction by Aug. 10 and last until April 2021.

Subsequent renewal stages, however, have been “deferred” further, according to the email. Construction on Randolph Hall, which was scheduled to begin this summer, will not commence until July 2021. The start of the third phase of renovation — on Russell and Westmorly Halls — will be delayed until at least June 2023.

Announced in April, Cambridge’s restrictions on construction in the city threw the schedule for the Adams renovations into uncertainty. The pause on Adams construction came shortly after delays in a slew of University events and operations — including the opening of the Allston campus, hiring processes, and faculty searches.

Before the pandemic, Adams House had already faced a six-month delay in its renovation of Apthorp House after contractors discovered flaws in the building’s heating system and foundation.

The email also noted that several swing housing locations — such as the Inn at Harvard on Massachusetts Avenue — will be used as isolation facilities for those on campus who may test positive for the coronavirus. House staff noted that the repurposing of House spaces will cause additional difficulties in preserving connections between residents.

“Adams House will exist as a small shell of its real and normal personality,” they wrote. “A few of you will be actually living here, but most of you will be living and learning in diaspora.”

They also stressed the importance of abiding by the College’s coronavirus mitigation measures for those Adams residents returning to campus for the fall semester.

“It will be a very awkward existence here but know that we are all responsible not only for our own health and success but that of everyone else here,” they wrote. “Our adherence to the social distancing, mask-wearing and hand washing requirements will literally make or break the success of Harvard this year.”

—Staff writer Sydnie M. Cobb can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @cobbsydnie.

—Staff writer Declan J. Knieriem can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @DeclanKnieriem.

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