History of 224 Albany St.

courtesy of Alan Richardson

Year Occupant
1905-1908 Hutchings-Votey
1910-1925 Library Bureau
1925-c.1941 Remington Rand
c.1944-c.1945 MIT Shop
1945-1959 Air Force Cambridge Research Center
c.1961-1973 MIT Instrumentation Laboratory
1980-2000 MIT Equipment Exchange
2001-present "The Warehouse" MIT graduate dorm
  1. Hutchings-Votey

    The first recorded occupant of the building was the then prominent organ builder, the Hutchings-Votey Company. In 1904 the company had the largest pipe-organ factory in the world, where it had produced organs for Yale's Woolsey Hall, Dartmouth, and the original organ in Boston's Symphony Hall. When the factory was destroyed in a fire, production was shifted to this building. During its three years of operation on Albany St., one of the most notable organs constructed by Hutchings was for the St. James Cathedral in Seattle, the mother church of the Archdiocese of Seattle and the seat of its archbishop.

  2. Library Bureau/Remington Rand

    Melvil Dewey, inventor of the Dewey Decimal System, founded the Library Bureau company in 1876. It grew to a large international business, and by 1909 the company had 60,000 customers, ten factories, and branches in Europe. A card and wood-working factory in Boston, and a similar one in Chicago to supply the western business, were united this year under one roof in a spacious plant at 224 Albany Street, Cambridge. A building adjacent to the factory, 230 Albany Street, was constructed as the headquarters of Library Bureau in 1918. In 1925 the company was bought by Remington Rand. At this time the factory at 224 Albany Street employed 450 men and women.

  3. Air Force Cambridge Research Center

    At the close of World War II, the Air Force wanted to ensure that wartime radar research conducted at MIT, Harvard,and Boston University continued. The USAF bought 224 Albany Street and on 25 September 1945 the building was designated as the headquarters of the Cambridge Field Station (later renamed the Air Force Cambridge Research Center). In a report to the White House it was stated the lab was regarded as probably the best of the military laboratories. Among the important work performed here was the initiation of the SAGE project, an automated system for tracking enemy bombers entering US airspace, whose final cost was estimated to be several times that of the Manhattan Project. Technologies developed in the building included the world's first system for automatically detecting radar targets, encoding target coordinates, storing them, and then transmitting them over telephone lines, and the lightgun pointing device. At the end of the AFCRL occupancy, the building was also used by Nuclear Metals, Inc.,the descendant of the metallurgical lab operated by MIT for the Manhattan Project.

  4. MIT Instrument Laboratory

    The building continued to be a center for high tech research, as by 1961 it was occupied by the MIT Instrumentation Lab. As leaders in the field, the I Lab was contracted to build the Apollo navigation system. The building, which had already been involved in SAGE and the Manhattan Project, was now once again part of one of the United States' most important technological endeavors.

  5. The Warehouse

    Since 2001 the building at 224 Albany Street has been home to a total of over one thousand first-year MIT graduate students.