Administrative Information

Biographical Sketch

Scope and Content Note

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Series Description and Folder Listing

2 cartons, ½ file box
2.21 linear feet
Processor: Joseph Marceda
Date: November 2010
Revised by: Su Ciampa, April 2011

Acquisition: The Bill Cavellini Papers were donated to the Cambridge Historical Society by Bill Cavellini in 2009.

Access: There are no restrictions on items in this collection.

Permission to Publish: Requests for permission to publish from the collection should be made to the Executive Director.

Copyright: Copyright in the papers created by Bill Cavellini is held by the Cambridge Historical Society. Copyright in other materials in the collection may be held by their authors, or their author’s heirs, or assigns.

Biographical Sketch:

Bill Cavellini was born in New York, the son of Italian immigrants. He studied to become an architect in New York at night while working at an architecture firm during the day. As part of his duties he inspected buildings that the firm was looking to renovate or completely demolish and rebuild on the existing land. While inspecting buildings Cavellini ran into tenant organizations protesting high rent. Interactions with these groups sparked Cavellini’s interest in tenants’ rights, and following graduation he became involved with a number of these types of groups.

In 1969 he moved to Cambridge to begin his graduate studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1973 he moved into an apartment complex on Brookline Street where he remained until 1995. During this same time Cavellini began to work as a cab driver, working 30-35 hours a week, mostly at night. During the day he became the lead organizer of his Brookline Street apartment’s tenant group, and became involved in a number of other tenants’ rights groups. Cavellini became a member of the Cambridge Tenants Organizing Committee, Cambridge Tenants Union, and the Cambridgeport Alliance and helped form the Cambridge Haitian-American Association. He was heavily involved in the Simplex Steering Committee where he acted as spokesman and wrote press releases for the committee. The organization formed in response to the purchase and plans for development for the Simplex site which was a 130-acre development that belonged to the now defunct Simplex Wire and Cable Co. in the northern area of the “Cambridgeport Revitalization Development District,” east of Cambridgeport proper. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology was the major landowner, having acquired some 80% of the area by systematic purchases beginning in 1969. It proposed a 27-acre, two million square-foot development of luxury high-rise buildings for research and development and general office use. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology hired Forest City Enterprises, Inc., a contracting firm, to develop the Simplex site.
The Simplex Steering Committee (SSC) was formed in 1974 by Cambridge residents to implement the “neighborhood priorities” for the development of the Simplex site. Adopted by a virtually unanimous vote in a community wide referendum, these priorities include the production of substantial amounts of new affordable housing, a mix of blue collar light industrial job opportunities, much open park land, and, in general, minimization of the negative social and environmental impacts of the luxury development by Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1984, Cavellini was elected as Chairman of the Ward 5 Democratic Committee.

Arrangement: The collection is arranged in two series:

Series I. Rent Control, 1962-1999 (1.1-1.26)
Series II. Simplex Steering Committee, 1945-2002 (1.27-2.43, OS. 1.)

Scope and Content:

Series I. Rent Control, 1962-1999, (#1.1-1.26) consists of petitions to city council, city council meeting documentation, housing proposals, legislative proposals, correspondence, leaflets, flyers, political campaign advertisements for individuals, ballot proposals, and clippings. This series documents the attempt to establish and retain rent-controlled housing by a number of tenants’ rights organizations within the city of Cambridge from the late 1960s until the 1990s when rent control was abolished in Massachusetts.

The bulk of this series documents efforts of Eviction Free Zone. Eviction Free Zone worked on three fronts: the prevention of eviction of existing tenants, increasing the stock of socially owned housing, and working to pass new legislation that would both support tenants and increase the amount of affordable housing. Eviction Free Zone was most active after rent control was abolished in 1994. Their major campaign was to save 2,000 homes in Cambridge as affordable housing. Other organizations represented in this series include the Cambridge Tenants Union and the Small Property Owners Association. The Cambridge Tenants Union was formed in the early 1980s following the dissolution of the Cambridge Tenants Organizing Committee in the late 1970s. Its chief concern was ensuring that rent control continued in Cambridge and that tenants rights were protected. The Small Property Owners Association was the chief opponent of rent control and ultimately the biggest factor in defeating rent control in all of Massachusetts. Papers reflecting the work of this organization document their position on contested buildings that were being exempted from rent control. The series is arranged alphabetically. Fragile materials in this series have been copied and removed from the collection.

Series II. Simplex Steering Committee, 1945-2002 (1.27-2.43, OS.1), includes correspondence with Massachusetts Institute of Technology officials, press, and city council officials; clippings; photographs of rallies and other events; leaflets, pamphlets, and mailing and member lists; press releases; real estate maps; research materials relating to zoning petitions; and zoning plans which include funding proposals. Some materials relate to the Riverside Cambridgeport Community Development Corporation’s supportive view on the efforts of the Simplex Steering Committee, whose main goal was to seek and provide low to moderate income housing for Cambridge residents and to upgrade existing housing stock. This series is arranged alphabetically. Fragile materials in this series have been copied and removed from the collection.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Rent Control—Massachusetts—Cambridge
Landlord and tenant—Massachusetts—Cambridge
Low-income tenants—Massachusetts—Cambridge
Community activists—Massachusetts—Cambridge
Community and college—Massachusetts—Cambridge

Series I. Rent Control
1.1 Anderson [Affordable Housing zoning] petition, 1997-1998
1.2 Cambridge Tenants Union [governance and Membership], 1986
1.3 [Campaign: Rent Control report responses], 1997-1998
1.4 Eviction Free Zone: 2,000 Homes Campaign for [Affordable Housing]/Legislative piece, 1991-1997
1.5 Eviction Free Zone: 2,000 Homes Campaign for [Affordable Housing] /Legislative piece, 1996-1997
1.6 Eviction Free Zone: 2,000 Homes Campaign for [Affordable Housing] / Organizing piece, 1994-1999
1.7 Eviction Free Zone: 2,000 Homes clippings, 1997-1998
See Folder OS1 for oversized material
1.8 Eviction Free Zone: 2,000 Homes: [miscellaneous], 1996
1.9 Eviction Free Zone: 2,000 Homes: Open Forum [op-pd] piece, n.d.
1.10 Eviction Free Zone: 2,000 Homes: Tent Action – other groups direct action – Profit piece, 1997
1.11 Eviction Free Zone: Action Committee, 1995
1.12 Eviction Free Zone: Broadway properties, 1990
1.13 Eviction Free Zone: Caravan for Housing Justice Campaign, 1997
1.14 Eviction Free Zone: [miscellaneous], 1998-1999
1.15 Expiring Use Buildings: Small Property Owners Association position, 1996-1997
1.16 Housing Committee Meetings: [Cambridge] City Council, 1996-1997
1.17 No on 9 Campaign [Massachusetts Rent Control Referendum], 1994
1.18 Rent Control: correspondence & leaflets 1979-1987, and n.d.
1.19 Rent Control: prep for December 2nd, 1996 [Hearings on Post-RC recommendations]
1.20 Rent Control Task Force: follow up to Nov. 83 Elections [tenants’ rights endorsed candidates], 1982-1983
1.21 Save Our Communites Coalition Rent Control: [Vote] No on 9, 1994
See Folder OS1 for oversized material
1.22 Spare Change [materials on] The End of Rent Control, 1997
See Folder OS1 for oversized material
1.23 Tenant literature on Rent Control, 1962-1984
1.24 Tenant Tax / Housing Alliance & subsequent housing proposals from councilors, 1990-1991
1.25 Transfer [Real Estate] Tax: background – Toomey, Cambridge Tenants Union, etc., 1991-1997
1.26 Transfer [Real Estate] Tax, 1996-1998
Series II. Simplex Steering Committee
1.27 Cambridgeport Residential re-zoning for Plan C-1B, 1986-1987
1.28 Caragianes / Massachusetts Institute of Technology Zoning Petitions, 1983, n.d.
1.29 Communication with Massachusetts Institute of Technology:Simplex Steering Committee, 1980-1984
1.30 Forest City [Contractor] concept plan, 1984
1.31 Forest City [Contractor] plans and communications, 1984
1.32 Media addresses, 1988
1.33 Massachusetts Institute of Technology Environmental Design Forum:Cavellini speech, 1986-1987
See Folder OS1 for oversized material
1.34 Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard land transactions, 2000-2002
See Folder OS1 for oversized material
1.35 Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sale of Streets / Cambridge and Somerville Program for Alcoholism and Drug Rehabilitation, 1992-1993
1.36 Photographs of Simplex Steering Committee rallies, 1987, n.d.
2.01 BCP – Rally speaker, n.d.
2.02 BCP – Rally speaker, n.d.
2.03 BCP – Rally speaker, n.d.
2.04 BCP – Rally speaker, n.d.
2.05 BCP – Tent City, 1987
2.06 BCP – Simplex Rally, n.d.
2.07 BCP – Rally Speaker, n.d.
2.08 BCP – Tent City, 1987
2.09 BCP – Tent City, 1987
2.10 BCP – Rally concert, n.d.
2.11 BCP – Rally concert, n.d.
2.12 BCP – Rally concert, n.d.
2.13 BCP – Rally concert, n.d.
2.14 BCP – Rally concert, n.d.
2.15 BCP – Rally booth, n.d.
2.16 BCP – Father & daughter at rally, n.d.
2.17 BCP – Rally embrace, n.d.
2.18 BCP – Rally announcement, n.d.
2.19 BCP – Rally booth, n.d.
2.20 BCP – Rally, n.d.
2.21 BCP – Rally stage, n.d.
2.22 BCP – Filming rally, n.d.
2.23 BCP – Tent City, 1987
2.24 BCP – Tent City, 1987
2.25 BCP – Tent City, 1987
2.26 BCP – Tent City, 198
2.27 BCP – Tent City, 1987
2.28 BCP – Tent City, 1987
2.29 BCP – Tent City, 1987
2.30 BCP – Tent City, 1987
2.31 BCP – Tent City, 1987
2.32 BCP – Picket sign, n.d.
2.33 BCP – Picket signs, 1987
2.34 BCP – Mural painting, n.d.
2.35 BCP – Mural painting, n.d.
2.36 BCP – Tent City, 1987
1.37 Photographs of Simplex Steering Committee Rallies, 1987, 1990, n.d.
2.37 BCP – Demonstrators, n.d.
2.38 BCP – Octopus van, n.d.
2.39 BCP – Tent City, 1987
2.40 BCP – Tent City, 1987
2.41 BCP – Tent City, 1987
2.42 BCP – Tent City, 1987
2.43 BCP – Tent City, 1987
2.44 BCP – Tent City, 1987
2.45 BCP – Tent City, 1987
2.46 BCP – Tent City, 1987
2.47 BCP – University Park protest, n.d.
2.48 BCP – Rally concert, n.d.
2.49 BCP – Tent City, 1987
2.50 BCP – Tent City, 1987
2.51 BCP – Protest, n.d.
2.52 BCP – Protest, n.d.
2.53 BCP – Meeting, n.d.
2.54 BCP – Cambridge map, n.d.
2.55 BCP – University Park, 1990
2.56 BCP – Tent City, 1987
2.57 BCP – Snow, n.d.
2.58 BCP – University Park snow, n.d.
2.59 BCP – Street booth, n.d.
2.60 BCP – Protest, n.d.
2.61 BCP – Stop Massachusetts Institute of Technology Expansion, n.d.
2.62 BCP – Rally participants, n.d.
2.63 BCP – Tent City, 1987
2.64 BCP – Tent City, 1987
2.65 BCP – Mural, n.d.
2.66 BCP – University Park, n.d.
2.67 BCP – Tent City, 1987
2.68 BCP – Tent City, 1987
2.69 BCP – Tent City, 1987
2.70 BCP – Tent City, 1987
2.71 BCP – Tent City, 1987
2.72 BCP – Protest, 1987
1.38 Planning Board zoning petition, 1981-1983
1.39 Riverside/Cambridgeport Community Corporation Position on Simplex, 1974-1987
1.40 Riverside/Cambridgeport Community Corporation: Position on Simplex, 1972-1979
Simplex Steering Committee [includes Cambridgeport Protest Song Sheet], 1978-1979
1.42 Simplex Steering Committee administrative information, 1979-1990, n.d.
1.43 Simplex Steering Committee: Auburn Street, 1945-1946, 1982
1.44 Simplex Steering Committee: background packages on Quinton zoning, 1981-1991
1.45 Simplex Steering Committee: Blanche Street, 1970-1985
1.46 Simplex Steering Committee: Blanche Street and cinema, 1988-1990
1.47 Simplex Steering Committee: Blue Ribbon Committee, 1985-1987
1.48 Simplex Steering Committee: Cambridgeport Alliance, 1975-1979
1.49 Simplex Steering Committee: canvassing materials, 1981-1983
1.50 Simplex Steering Committee: correspondence, 1969-1988
2.1 Simplex Steering Committee: Draft Environmental Impact ReportResponse, 1985-1987
2.2 Simplex Steering Committee: Draft Environmental Impact ReportResponse, 1987
2.3 Simplex Steering Committee: developer communication, 1978-1983
Simplex Steering Committee: Fort Washington District Improvement plan, 1982-1985
2.5 Simplex Steering Committee: Funding/Haymarket Foundation, 1975-1987
See Box 4, Folder 1 for Oversized Materials
2.6 Simplex Steering Committee: funding proposals, 1985-1987
2.7 Simplex Steering Committee: Housing Feasibility study, 1983-1989
2.8 Simplex Steering Committee: Industry study, Cambridgeport Industrial District, 1979, 1987
2.9 Simplex Steering Committee: leaflets, 1980-1989, n.d.
See Folder OS1 for oversized material
2.10 Simplex Steering Committee: leaflets, 1983-1987, n.d.
2.11 Simplex Steering Committee: leaflets, 1980-1983, n.d.
See Folder OS1 for oversized material
2.12 Simplex Steering Committee: mailing labels & member lists, 1983-1984
2.13 Simplex Steering Committee: mailing labels & member lists, 1980-1983
2.14 Simplex Steering Committee: mediation [acceptable zoning for Cambridgeport Industrial District], 1981
Campaign, 1982-1983
2.15 Simplex Steering Committee: Neighborhood Planning Process, 1970-1975
2.16 Simplex Steering Committee: news clippings, 1980-1990
2.17 Simplex Steering Committee: news clippings, 1981-1990
2.18 Simplex Steering Committee: news clippings, 1970-1983
2.19 Simplex Steering Committee: news clippings, 1979-1988
See Folder OS1 for oversized material
2.20 Simplex Steering Committee: news clippings, 1987-1988
2.21 Simplex Steering Committee: news clippings re: Tent City, 1987-1988
2.22 Simplex Steering Committee: opposing community positions, 1981, 1983
2.23 Simplex Steering Committee: pamphlets – originals, 1974-1975
2.24 Simplex Steering Committee: papers written about Simplex Steering Committee, 1982, 1987, n.d.
See Folder OS1 for oversized material
Simplex Steering Committee: People’s Housing # 1 – Tent City security, 1981
2.26 Simplex Steering Committee: petitions, 1981-1982
2.27 Simplex Steering Committee: planning group, 1980-1987
Simplex Steering Committee: press releases & City Council documents, 1974-1988
2.29 Simplex Steering Committee: Quinton petition, 1981
2.30 Simplex Steering Committee: Quinton 1st rezoning proposal, 1974-1981
2.31 Simplex Steering Committee: Quinton 2nd zoning proposal, 1981-1982
Simplex Steering Committee: Quinton Petition 3rd zoning proposal, 1981-1983
Simplex Steering Committee: Research – [tax exemptions and deeds for MIT], 1967-1993
2.34 Simplex Steering Committee: Research – Real Estate lists & maps, 1962-1980
See Folder OS1 for oversized material
2.35 Simplex Steering Committee: Ron Luke report for Michael O’Hare on Massachusetts Institute of Technology plans, 1972
See Folder OS1 for oversized material
Simplex Steering Committee: “Stop University Expansion” rally, 1974-1976
2.37 Simplex Steering Committee: “Support the Tenants” essay, n.d.
2.38 Simplex Steering Committee: Targeting Massachusetts Institute of Technology corporate directors, 1982-1983
2.39 Simplex Steering Committee: Tent City, 1987-1988
2.40 Simplex Steering Committee: University of Massachusetts research report on “The Changing Character of Cambridgeport, 1985-1987
2.41 University expansion in other cities, 1983-1989
2.42 University Park zoning, 1988
2.43 University Park zoning, 1995-1999
Oversized Materials
OS.1 Oversized materials removed from folders #1.7, 1.21, 1.22, 1.33, 1.34, 2.5, 2.9, 2.11, 2.19, 2.24, 2.34, 2.35

Fragile materials removed to box 3

Materials Removed

The following newsletters have been removed from the collection and added to the CHS Newsletter and Periodical Collection:

SPOA, Community Voice (EVICTION FREE ZONE newsletter), Shelter Force, The Tenants’ Voice, Peace Work, SOCC News, CHT (Cambridge Homeowners and Taxpayers), Somerville-Cambridge Tenants Newsletter, The Harvard Tenant (HTU), Alliance of Cambridge Tenants (ACT) Quarterly News, Cambridge Tenants’ Newsletter (CTOC), DiNuncio Tenant Union’s Newsletter, The Massachusetts Tenant (MTOC), Brandy Wyne Tenants Union, Simplex Newsletter, The Tenant Independent (CTU), and Tent City News.