The Charles River Speedway Headquarters was built as a complex of buildings for the Charles River Speedway Park which included a riverfront pedestrian promenade, a 1.75 mile long scenic parkway, and a racetrack for horses. The headquarters also had a police station, an office, stables, and a storage facility. It was constructed by the architect William D. Austin in 1899 with additions through 1925. Austin designed the public structure in the Shingle style with Colonial Revival influences. In the 1920s, with the transition from horses to automobiles for the Metropolitan District Commission Police force, the stables were converted into garages. The Speedway lost popularity in the public with the rise of automobiles and although it was used by the Metropolitan Driving Club, the Speedway was razed in the middle of the 20th century. Afterwards, the Speedway Headquarters building was used for different purposes by the Commission until 1990. The superintendent’s residence was used by a residential tenant until the mid 2000s and the police headquarters building was used by the Department of Fish and Game.
In 2010, the site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the Administration Building was designated a local Landmark in 2011. In 2014 the Architectural Heritage Foundation was selected to rehabilitate the site.
More info here: https://charlesriverspeedway.com/
For years the Alliance has advocated for the preservation and rehabilitation of the Speedway site. Not only is the complex historically significant, but it’s an important anchor to the neighborhood and a memorable moment along the Charles River and Soldiers Field Road. We are excited to see the results of the Architectural Heritage Foundation’s preservation efforts as they rejuvenate the site.
Highlights from our activity log:
- February 2019
Boston’s Community Preservation Act awards the Speedway $200,000 for a project that will rehabilitate the courtyard, outdoor spaces, and old stable building for public use as a restaurant and small marketplace.
- August 30, 2018
The Alliance submits a letter to the Massachusetts Historical Commission in support of tax credits for the Speedway project, noting AHF’s capacity as stewards and the positive impact on the neighborhood. This letter is attached below.
- March 8, 2016
The Massachusetts Historical Commission finds that the proposal to renovate the Speedway site will have an adverse effect on the historic resources listed on the National Register of Historic Places, particularly two garages and the addition of a new building. The letter is attached below.
- December 21, 2015
The site experiences a fire. Fortunately, there is no major structural damage and the fire appears to be accidental, not arson.
- August 15, 2014
The MA Department of Conservation and Recreation announces that the Boston-based Architectural Heritage Foundation has been awarded curatorship of that site.
- December 1, 2012
The Alliance attends open house and site tour, engaging in conversations about potential future tenants.
- February 27, 2012
The Alliance attends a public meeting to discuss possibilities for reuse of the site.
- May 13, 2011
The Alliance submits a letter of support to the Boston Landmarks Commission for the designation of the Speedway as a local Landmark.
- April 30, 2011
The Alliance partners with the Brighton-Allston Historical Society, Historic Boston, and the MA Department of Conservation and Recreation to host a public charrette to discuss ideas for the future of the site. The gathering is very successful, generating ideas and feedback.
- September 23, 2010
The Boston Globe runs an article about the fight for the Speedway with a quote for Alliance Executive Director Sarah Kelly. A scan of the article is attached below.
- August 30, 2010
The Alliance submits a nomination to Preservation Massachusetts for the Speedway to be included in the 2010 Massachusetts’ Most Endangered list.
- June 10, 2010
A nomination is sent to the Massachusetts Historical Commission for the Speedway to be added to the National Register of Historic Places.
- October 23, 2002
The Boston Landmarks Commission accepts a petition to further study the Speedway Headquarters for designation as a Boston Landmark.