How many straw companies does Harvard have?

Reader t.s. asks "How many straw companies does Harvard have?"

Answer: As many as it needs.

The Secretary of State has an online database that tracks all corporations registered with the state. The search form is at

Here's how Harvard did it with the purchase of the 7-11 property:

  • On November 1, NORTH HARVARD STREET 204-206 LLC was created. The owner of the property, Marion Provost, was installed as the agent and trustee of the trust.
  • On December 3, the corporation was changed to make Harvard Real Estate-Allston, Inc. the manager and sole member of the corporation.
  • Also on December 3, NORTH HARVARD STREET 204-206 LLC was merged with Harvard Real Estate-Allston, Inc. and NORTH HARVARD STREET 204-206 LLC ceased to exist.

A summary of activity from this year shows the other mergers that Harvard Real Estate-Allston, Inc. has made with short-lived corporations.
Mergered with : TKENNEL I LLC on 8/31/2007
Mergered with : WESTERN 271 LLC on 8/31/2007
Mergered with : 445-447 WESTERN AVENUE BOSTON LLC on 8/31/2007
Mergered with : BANIMAL LLC on 8/31/2007
Mergered with : KEYSTONE CORNER LLC on 9/5/2007
Mergered with : WESTERN 271 LLC on 9/5/2007
Mergered with : 445-447 WESTERN AVENUE BOSTON LLC on 9/5/2007
Mergered with : NORTH HARVARD STREET 204-206 LLC on 12/6/2007


  1. TKENNEL? KEYSTONE CORNER?? The names are make my stomach turn - espeically KEYSTONE CORNER. Was that the Citgo Station? Obviously it was some key corner that will act to more securely anchor the university's holdings while simultaneously demoralizing those precious few remaining private owners who will most likely sell to Harvard as well.

  2. You are right. Keystone was the CITGO.

  3. I never understood the animus over using straws. My understanding of why Harvard uses them is that Harvard thinks that if a seller knows the University is interested in a property then Harvard will pay a surcharge. So they buy through straws. Is there anyone here who wouldn't do the same in the same position? Would you feel guilty for doing so? Why?

  4. Hi Fred,

    A few comments:

    1) Harvard has promised that they are not using straws to conceal their identities, only to conceal the purchase price of the property.

    2) This technique makes it very hard for anyone to really know what Harvard owns, and it seems reasonable to want to know what land they own when they are purchasing and land-banking dozens of acres of otherwise viable land in our neighborhood.

    3) A tax-exempt institution educating the future leaders of the world should conduct itself with the utmost of integrity and honesty. If your motto is "veritas" then even more so. Deceptive business practices, even if legal and practiced by others, are not appropriate.

  5. Are you saying that Harvard did use straws to conceal their identity after promising not to do so? (That must be your meaning, since if Harvard wasn't concealing their identity it wouldn't be hard, as you say it is, to know what they own.)

    If that's the case then I certainly understand the problem. They're breaking a promise they made, pure and simple.

  6. I have no idea if Harvard is concealing their identity from the people selling the property. People who sell to Harvard are sworn to secrecy and won't say a word about the transaction.

    Regardless, Harvard is concealing their identity from the rest of us which you can see if you go to the Boston assessing website and look up properties like 253 Western Ave. Harvard owns it, but it is listed as being owned by one of their shells - Foursquare Corp. When there is so much uncertainty and rumor surrounding the fate of our neighborhood, I hope you can understand that we'd like to at least know who is buying what without having to play a game of 20 questions.

  7. I always assumed when I heard the term 'straw' that it referred (in this case) to Harvard's shielding their identity for financial reasons.
    From what you say this seems to be wrong. Is there some other way Harvard benefits from the practice?
    Or have they just outsourced their real estate activities to non-Harvard