Building and Structure Documentation Collection: 55 Wheeler Street

Today, we are highlighting a building from our recently opened Building and Structure Documentation Collection. This collection documents buildings and structures in Cambridge that were either demolished or significantly altered. In this case the materials were compiled as a condition of approval by the Cambridge Planning Board for a proposed replacement project.


55 Wheeler Street: interior view of reception area

For each building or structure, the corresponding box often includes an architectural description of the building or buildings, a narrative history, and archival photographs, negatives, photograph key(s), and/or electronic copies of the files and photographs.

Documented structures in this collection include buildings from the former Boston Woven Hose & Rubber Company, and the Fogg Museum from the Harvard Art Museum Restoration and Expansion Project. Today we are featuring the documentation of the Abt Associates office complex at 55 Wheeler Street.


55 Wheeler Street: exterior facade

The Abt Associates Office Complex, much of which is less than 50 years old as of 2018, is located at 55 Wheeler Street, Cambridge, Mass. Abt Associates – which relocated to other offices in Cambridge in 2017 – is “a consulting firm that specializes in combining social sciences, computer forecasting, operations analysis and systems engineering to address technological advances and social change.” (Historical Narrative, Westbrook Properties Documentation). The firm grew rapidly in the 1960s and ‘70s, and the complex was repeatedly enlarged to enclose a series of beautifully landscaped quadrangles; almost every occupant enjoyed an exterior view.

The internationally renowned architect and urban planner Imre Halasz (1925-2003) was one of the most important designers associated with the complex. Halasz came to the US from Hungary in 1957 and taught at MIT’s School of Architecture and Planning for forty years. His firm, Imre & Anthony Halasz Inc., operated from 1957 to 1991. Halasz was also responsible for the master plan of the NASA Electronics Research Center (later the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center) in Kendall Square.


55 Wheeler Street: courtyard view

Abt Associates was formed in Cambridge in 1965 by Dr. Clark C. Abt. The company’s Cambridge location is significant for its associations with an “iconic social sciences research and consulting firm that was forward-thinking for its time, providing child care, a restaurant and recreational facilities for employees.” (Memo, Liza Paden, June 28, 2017).


55 Wheeler Street: pool, looking southwest

Look for more building and structure documentation in future posts!


New Finding Aids Available

We are happy to announce the availability of three new finding aids and the addition of a subject inventory for one of our collections! Scroll down for descriptions and samples of images from the following collections: Traffic Proposals and Plans – A Supplement to the Cambridge Traffic Department Collection, Daniel White Charity Fund Cash Book, Hugh Russell Collection, and the Boston Globe Cambridge Clippings Collection Inventory.

Traffic Proposals and Plans – A Supplement to the Cambridge Traffic Department Collection

This collection contains report plans, transit reports, and studies prepared by agencies for improvement projects in Cambridge from 1962 to 1990. Subjects in this collection include Relocation/Construction of the Lechmere Station Project, Alewife Boulevard Alignment Study, and the North Point Roadway and Infrastructure Project.





Click here to view the finding aid.

Daniel White Charity Fund Cash Book

This collection consists of one ledger detailing the income, cash account, interest, and other financial aspects of the Daniel White Charity Fund in Cambridge from its inception in 1863 to early 1959. An introduction to the ledger is written by former Cambridge mayor J. Warren Merrill. White gave $5000 to the Mayor and certain Trustees of Cambridge to be held in trust with the following instructions:

Go hold and invest the sum safely and to apply the income thereof from time to time according to the discretion of the Trustees to the purchasing and gratuitous distribution of fuel among the worth and deserving poor of my (his) native City of Cambridge.


Click here to view the finding aid.

Hugh Russell Cambridge Urban Planning Collection

This collection covers the years 1972 – 2011 and is divided into two series. Click here to view the finding aid.

Series One consists of six boxes of Planning Board documents concerning special permit applications. The folder list is a spread sheet, which is arranged alphabetically by street address. The information for each address includes proponent, significant dates, PB number, project name and description, and a list of folder contents. Box 6 contains for the most part information concerning University Park. Click here to view the spreadsheet for Series 1.

Series Two consists of two boxes of reports, meeting minutes, newsletters, proposals, petitions, surveys from a variety of neighborhood committees and organizations as well city departments, all of which concern various urban planning and development issues in Cambridge. The folder list for this series is a word document. Click here to view the spreadsheet for Series 2.

As these materials are housed offsite, please contact our archivist, Emily at or at 617.349.6112 to make an appointment and view the collection.

Boston Globe Cambridge Clippings Collection Inventory

In relation to our previous post, the subject list inventory for the collection of newspaper clipping files from The Boston Globe clipping library is now available online. Click here to access the inventory.