Harvard Gets Schooled By 85-Year-Old Cambridge Man

1203608640A study published on the website of medical journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia shows that the mental ability of America’s senior citizens has improved over the past nine years. It’s a study that came too late for Harvard. If administrators had read it, perhaps they would have avoided a messy confrontation with an old man whose house was trashed by a university construction project.

The Cambridge Chronicle reports that the construction of a six-story dormitory behind the home of 85-year-old Martin Annis did some serious damage to his property.

[H]is house has settled a half-inch below its original depth, causing cracks in several parts of the house. In the basement, a window and heating pipe were broken while construction crews were excavating a four-story hole for an underground parking garage. His driveway was flooded with several tons of slurry — a mix of water and bentonite used to temporarily hold back dirt during excavation — last year. In 2006, construction crews accidentally knocked over a tree from an adjoining property. It landed on his car.

It sounds like one of those movies about the pratfalls of home ownership. And just like those films, it isn’t very funny.

What is amusing is what Harvard thought would placate the old man after the school fixed only some of the damage done to Annis’s property.

In October, Harvard’s Construction Mitigation Office offered Annis a $3,500 payment if he would agree to a series of legal releases preventing him from making any further claims against the university or saying anything disparaging about it in the press, according to a letter sent to Annis from university lawyers.

He may be old, but he’s not stupid. Annis proved this by demanding $90,000 from the school before he agrees to sign the papers.

We salute you, Mr. Annis. You get every cent you can out of that bloated endowment.

Photo Credit: David Gordon for the Cambridge Chronicle