To prepare for the construction of a major new academic complex, Harvard Law School will move two Victorian era houses and a carriage house from the corner of Massachusetts Avenue and Jarvis Street to the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Mellen Street on June 23. The move, which repositions the buildings approximately 150 yards away, will begin at 6 a.m. on the 23rd.

At 6 p.m. on Friday, June 22, a section of Massachusetts Avenue will be blocked off to allow the project team from Shawmut Design and Construction to transport the houses at walking speed to their new site. To allow ample room along the route, street lights, parking meters, signs, traffic signals, and MBTA overhead bus lines will be temporarily removed and later reinstalled. Massachusetts Avenue is scheduled to remain closed until 5 a.m. on Monday.

“Our twin goals here are to create space needed for our Northwest Corner building project and to maintain these historic structures on Massachusetts Avenue,” said Fran McCrossan, the Law School’s Dean for Administration. “We view this as a win-win situation for the School and the surrounding community.”

Originally built in the mid 1870s, the houses have been used in recent years as administrative offices for Harvard Law School and other University programs. They will be converted to student housing after the relocation, which will place the houses adjacent to North Hall, an existing Law School dormitory. Extensive measures are being taken to move the houses, rather then demolish them, because of their historic nature and status as part of the fabric of the community.

The largest of the three structures — known informally as Ukrainian House because it used to house the Harvard University Ukrainian Research Institute — is scheduled to move soon after 6 a.m., and the two smaller houses known as Baker House and the carriage house will follow. The houses will be moved on hydraulic dollies designed to distribute the load in a way that does not exceed the street’s weight capacity. Ukrainian House weighs approximately 200 tons and will be supported by 16 separate dollies.

The HLS and Shawmut project team have spent the past several months working closely with a range of city and state agencies to ensure the safety of the move. An abundance of caution has been exercised throughout the planning process, and there will be significant steps taken on the day of the move to keep the public at a safe distance, while still allowing people to view the move.

The Northwest Corner project will be a 250,000 square foot academic complex scheduled to be completed in 2011. Designed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects, the Northwest Corner complex will dramatically improve the teaching environment, provide new spaces for student activities, and significantly strengthen the learning community. By replacing a five level garage structure, it will also enhance the surrounding neighborhood by providing an attractive northern gateway to Harvard University.

Shawmut Design and Construction has extensive experience protecting and preserving historic structures in Cambridge and throughout New England. Over the course of its 15 year relationship with Harvard, Shawmut has completed more than 100 projects.

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Facts related to the move: