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Light in the Darkness


This is the solstice, the still point of the sun,
its cusp and midnight,
the year's threshold and unlocking,
where the past lets go of and becomes the future;
the place of caught breath.

~Margaret Atwood

Here we pause, take a breath, see the past more clearly, and face the future with courage and love. We have some cheerful news and some thoughts, and our special offers, all for you!


House News

This month marks the completion of thirty years of our serving the traveling public as Irving House at Harvard. We note the enormous growth in the number of hotel properties of all sizes in Cambridge, the remarkable changes in technology, and expectations of the traveling public since 1990. And now, in these pandemic times, with much needed social change across the world, we consider more deeply and fully our commitment to being Friendly Accommodations In The Heart of Cambridge.

Irving House is now hosting all visitors and we have had some guests since the Governor allowed hotels to open on June 8. Here are the changes:
We are only booking rooms with private baths.
We are not providing any food service.
On check out, guest rooms are left with windows open & otherwise untouched for 2 days.
We are following protocols for staff and guests suggested by the city of Cambridge.
We ask that guests wear masks in common areas at all times.

Our ramp that replaced our lift is in place except for some handrail parts. It has already been useful to guests with rolling luggage!
In the good weather, without guests, we have managed to find the opportunity to get the city to fix the bricks at the end of our driveway! This has been on our To-Do list for at least a decade, waiting for warm weather and low occupancy.
On good days we leave the outer front door propped open, and the porch door too, so there are no touch points when guests first arrive, and fresh air circulating more in the front hall.

And we are considering outfitting more of our rooms with cooking facilities for long term stays. We hope to have more complete information on this in our next issue.

fine dining
Harvard Square
Neighborhood News

Neighborhood News

There are fabulous businesses all over Our Fair City-owned & operated by people of color. You can choose to support them here.

The wonderful collection of restaurants in Harvard Square are open for business with outdoor dining, or pick up.

Cambridge Local First is a fine organization of which I am proud to be a part. Here is their Social Wall so you can see some of the many cheerful colors of Our Fair City.

James Baldwin

Light in the Darkness

“One discovers light in the darkness. That is what darkness is for.”
~James Baldwin

On this particular summer solstice, we are in a grave darkness. Time stretches as every moment seems more full of fear, speculation, and appreciation of the details of daily life. While I grieve for all of us, black and white and every color of skin in between, I know the grief and rage and fatigue of our black neighbors and friends and loved ones, our colleagues, our employees, our family, surpasses whatever any of us with white skin can ever truly know. And in this darkness those of us who have been born to and live with the privilege of having white skin, must know it is the same white skin of those who have conjured this theory of Race to justify centuries of oppression. The systems in place to ensure racism’s perpetuation are so entrenched we whities do not even see them as racist.

It does not matter at all that we have not actively participated in this oppression. We have benefitted by it, and are part of the system that sustains it. In reading James Baldwin, as I have been doing lately, I ache in acknowledgment of how long, how very, very long we have participated in this system, how very bad it is for people of color.

“Whatever while people do not know about Negroes reveals,
precisely and inexorably,
what they do not know about themselves.”
~James Baldwin, November 10 1962

We whites have work to do. Every one of us must stand up for what is right for every one of the human race, and for every living thing on the planet. This very much includes atoning for the awful injustices perpetrated for centuries on Africans, wherever they are, and the first peoples of North America. In addressing the enormous, incalculable damage done to individuals and whole communities, to whole societies, we will also begin to address the ills we have perpetrated on so many others in our greed, in our sense of entitlement and supremacy. None of us is free when any of us is oppressed. That means every human being. Even, I have to admit, the sociopaths and the psychopaths, even the white supremacists who would live in fear and loathing instead of facing their own frailties, and growing, we hope, in love and tolerance. Hard work, but always, always worth it.

In my (white) experience, the Cambridge Police seem to be well trained in dealing with the problems of many Cambridge residents as true officers of peace whose mission is to protect and to serve. They are often acting more as social workers on the front line between order and chaos at every level. I am following the conversation underway in Cambridge to better understand how our own police force behaves and whether it needs defunding or reorganizing, or is something close to a model of what can happen.

Do you know how your police force is behaving toward its residents? We all should know and monitor this. Watchful eyes on law enforcement and the justice system are all needed from every angle now. This is our power. This is one thing demanded of us now.

Many of us have lived long enough to have heard Martin Luther King speak on the on the Washington Mall, on the 6 o’clock news, and to know he was monitored and harassed by the FBI. We are old enough to remember the awful rage and grief we felt when he was assassinated in Memphis. It seemed like a second fierce blow to righteousness, only five years after JFK was shot.

This current, these days and weeks of rage and sorrow seem fuller, more inclusive, more widespread and, without a single leader, stronger.

Knowing that our founding fathers could not imagine including anyone but landowning white men in their democracy, and yet stated ideals of a true democracy for everyone, and knowing that the teachings of the Judeo-Christian traditions are of love and mercy, and remembering the Golden Rule, I am allowing myself to be hopeful, and seeking more ways to ensure the success of this tide of righteousness.

~Rachael Solem


Complimentary Bandana!

Send us an email at [email protected] so we can send you a bandana! Or just book directly with us and ask for one when you arrive--

We look forward to seeing your masked selves whenever you are in the neighborhood!

Corona Cash Crunch



As long as we are still refunding deposits, we are still happy to get the purchase of these gift certificates in $100 units. Each one will buy a night's stay at Irving House in time to come, any time! You can order yours by calling us, 617-547-4600 to give us your credit card info, or sending us a check by post (Yay! US Postal Service!) and we will mail you back a gift certificate... and look forward to seeing you soon!