Spotlight on DCR’s Historic Curatorship Program for Preservation Month

May is Preservation Month! The National Trust for Historic Preservation has set this year’s theme as “People Saving Places” and for us, there is no better way to do that than to put the spotlight on DCR’s Historic Curatorship Program, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. 

Within the Commonwealth’s 450,000 acres of state parks and forests are a number of unused, historically significant buildings. Established in 1994, the Historic Curatorship Program partners DCR with Curators who rehabilitate, manage and maintain unused, historic properties in return for a long-term lease. In doing so, DCR secures the long-term preservation of threatened historic sites for the public’s benefit, and Curators exchange an investment and their hard work and unique skills for the opportunity to live or work in a one-of-a-kind location. 

Curatorship properties are preserved through a wide range of reuses – residential, non-profit, for profit, hospitality and museums, and must be compatible with the historic and natural character of the setting. You can learn more by watching this engaging video about the program. 

Here at AHF, we salute all the Curators and we thank DCR for spearheading such an effective and ground-breaking program. As the National Trust says: “historic place-savers pour their time, energy, resources (and sometimes a great deal of sweat and tears) into protecting places they care about.” And for the Curators that have invested and preserved these unique and historic properties across the Commonwealth, that definitely describes you! Throughout the month, we will highlight a few of our favorite properties to shed a bit of light on this ground-breaking historic preservation program. 

We’d love to see the Historic Curatorship Program continue to expand and for more properties to benefit from the attention and dedication provided by this public-private partnership. Interested? There are properties open for proposals in Monterey, Shutesbury, and Milton right now! Learn more here.

Want to learn more about becoming a resident curator? The curators of the Dodge House in the Bradley Palmer State Park in Hamilton have recorded their fascinating journey on their blog. Read more here.

Speedway Administration Building, Charles River Reservation, Brighton

Yes, we had to start with this one. The Charles River Speedway is near and dear to our hearts, as AHF is the Curator of this property!

One of the first structures built by the fledgling Metropolitan Parks Commission in 1899, the Speedway represents the earliest history of the nation’s first metropolitan park system. Architect William D. Austin’s dramatic shingle style masterpiece served as the headquarters for the Speedway – a horse racing track hugging the Charles River. 

In 2019,  Architectural Heritage Foundation (AHF)  began a 40-year lease to rehabilitate the property as a mixed-use community space. After years of vacancy, this landmark started its new life and opened to the public in 2021. Today, the Charles River Speedway is home to Notch Brewery and several small businesses, including The Koji Club, Super Bien, Pizza Project, Birds of Paradise, Bellwether Salon, and flexible event spaces at Garage B and The Annex. 

Learn more about the history of The Speedway and its current role as a vibrant community hub here. 

Walter Baker Chocolate Factory, Dorchester 

Built in 1919 as the Administration Building for the sprawling Baker Chocolate Factory, this Classic Revival style office building serves as the centerpiece of one of Greater Boston’s most successful historic preservation projects. 

In November, 2000, Keen Development Corporation, in conjunction with Preservation Mass, became the Curator of the Walter Baker Chocolate Factory Administration Building, signing a 50-year lease. Keen Development finished the restoration of the building in 2002, which includes 13 artist live/work lofts, gallery space, and meeting rooms arranged around a three-story central atrium. Today, the historic building also hosts Dot Art, a non-profit offering art education for neighborhood youth. 

Bascom Lodge, Mt. Greylock State Reservation, Adams 

Opened in 1937, the Civilian Conservation Corps built Bascom Lodge during the depths of the Great Depression. Perched on top of Mt. Greylock, the state’s highest mountain, the iconic property was designed in an architectural style that would later influence a generation of America’s National Park buildings. Constructed of local stone quarried from the mountain, and old growth red spruce timbers, the mountaintop lodge is the centerpiece of a 12,500 acre wilderness park. 

In May 2009, DCR selected a Curator to operate, rehabilitate and maintain Bascom Lodge. The Curators continue the decades-long tradition of providing quality food, lodging and programs for visitors to Mt. Greylock State Reservation. 

Learn more about Bascom Lodge here. 

Wachusett Superintendent’s House, Wachusett Mountain State Reservation, Princeton

Built as an office and residence for Wachusett Mountain State Reservation’s first Superintendent, Guy Chase, this is one of the first buildings built by the fledgling state park agency in 1903. Without a core use, the building sat vacant for 30+ years. DCR continued to invest in the stabilization of the house, but an active reuse was needed to reconnect the property with the public. 

In 2018, the Curators signed a 40-year lease to fully rehabilitate, maintain, and manage the house and garage as a bakery, cafe, and community gathering place. Today, Mountainside Bakery and Cafe serves as a destination for hikers and day trippers looking for a good meal and a place to rest. 

Visit to learn more about the project.

The Dodge House, Bradley Palmer State Park, Hamilton

So far, we have highlighted properties that are being used for mostly commercial purposes. But what about the resident curators out there, putting their time, energy and money into historic state properties that will become their homes? For an insider’s look at the challenges, obstacles, and ultimate huge reward, take a look at the fascinating journey of the curators of the Dodge House in the Bradley Palmer State Park. Read more here.

2023 Year in Review

It’s been another productive and exciting year at AHF. As we look out of our office windows at the Charles River Speedway, we can see the historic marketplace’s central courtyard trimmed with festive trees and lights. The small business community here is making merry with holiday events and special gifts. Our newest tenants, Rite Tea & Espresso and Pizza Project, have quickly become an integral part of this community, and have made our days even more delicious. The event space at Garage B has been bustling with weddings, end-of-year parties and holiday markets, and the new flexible event space in the upper courtyard, The Annex, has become a great addition to the Speedway’s offerings.  The Speedway is definitely worth a visit this holiday season and beyond! 

Beyond Brighton, AHF is involved with projects and preservation efforts across the Commonwealth. As 2023 draws to a close, we are happy to share a few highlights.

20 Years of Massachusetts State Tax Credit 

2023 brought us the 20th anniversary of the Massachusetts Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit (MHRTC), a powerful preservation incentive program that has unlocked over 700 projects across the Commonwealth since its inception. Without this program, AHF projects at Washington Mills and Charles River Speedway would never have been possible, and we are grateful to all of those who helped craft and implement what has become a model program for states all over the country.  Continued advocacy for the MHRTC has been ongoing through the years, including increasing the cap to meet demand and extending the program’s sunset date, with partners at Massachusetts Historical Commission and Preservation Massachusetts leading the way. We look forward to continuing to access the tax credit for projects of our own and for others that we are helping in our consulting work.

Underutilized Properties Program 

Since the program’s inception three years ago, we have worked with various project partners to apply for UPP grant funding to support a range of development activity at their respective sites. This year, we were pleased to support Alander Group’s successful submission for the next phase of their project located at 343 Main Street in Great Barrington. This grant will be used to renovate and convert a historic 22,504-square-foot building in Great Barrington into two retail spaces and 13 units of mixed-income housing. A big congratulations to all the awardees!  

Wright Building, Pittsfield

Another project that has benefited from UPP funding is the Wright Building, a long vacant three story former commercial building on North Street in Pittsfield. Following their successful neighboring downtown market rate housing projects at the Onota and Howard Buildings, Allegrone Companies is planning the residential conversion of this long vacant building. Allegrone and AHF are now going through the historic approvals process for the addition of a new construction infill building next to and eventually connecting to the Wright Building which will add 14 more much needed units to the overall project.  Awarded $525,000 in UPP funding from FY2023 for life safety improvements, there is great momentum going into the new year.  AHF looks forward to continuing to support the project, including helping the Allegrone’s apply for and secure Housing Development Initiative Program Tax Credits, in addition to continuing to shepherd the project through MHC and NPS historic tax credit programs. 

Worcester Memorial Auditorium

The Auditorium project reached new levels of credibility in 2023, turning AHF’s vision into a concrete set of goals and objectives. The Auditorium is closer to redevelopment than it has been at any point in the past 25 years. With the support of CSL International, the project has a realistic operating pro forma and a market analysis for multiple types of entertainment offerings. With the support of DBVW Architects, the design of a modern, tech-forward, entertainment and economic development facility is underway. 

In 2024, AHF will unveil new project partners for the Auditorium redevelopment with hopes to begin construction on infrastructure upgrades this year.

Paul Bruhn Grant comes to Massachusetts

We were happy to support the Pioneer Valley Regional Ventures Center’s (PVRVC) application for Paul Bruhn Historic Revitalization Grant funds and were thrilled when they were awarded funding this year. AHF has worked behind the scenes for several years to galvanize engagement statewide to bring this resource to Massachusetts’ rural communities. The grant will support the creation of the Preservation Works in Western Mass subgrant program under the direction of PVRVC.

PVRVC’s new program will begin to close the funding gap for historic properties in rural communities and produce examples of the opportunity that exists to galvanize economic development by restoring and re-using National Register-listed community anchor buildings. The idea is to support economic development through the preservation of historic buildings in towns with fewer than 12,500 residents in Hampshire County, as well as small communities in Hampden and west central and southwest central Worcester counties. We look forward to supporting this endeavor across the western part of our state!

Comfort Kitchen, Boston 

This year, we saw the completion and the launch of the award-winning preservation project and new restaurant, Comfort Kitchen, in the Upham’s Corner neighborhood of Dorchester. AHF played a role in this project by providing a loan to Historic Boston, Inc., secured at a below-market fixed rate, to refinance a construction loan following the successful completion of work.

The former trolley system comfort station, a stucco 940-square-foot facility with full basement, underwent a $1.9 million historic rehabilitation with improvements that created Comfort Kitchen, a full-service café with dinner operations. AHF was proud to  support community-based development and fund historic preservation projects in Boston’s neighborhoods.

North Schoolhouse, Mount Washington

The Mount Washington Historical Society (MWHS) and the Town of Mount Washington have begun to advance construction plans amidst on-going fundraising efforts. Their goal is to move the historic single room North Schoolhouse to a new and safer location and to restore it for community use as soon as it is financially feasible to do so. 

In 2023, AHF supported the town’s applications to two state grant programs. AHF also helped to connect proponents to Mount Washington’s State Representative Smitty Pignatelli, to expand awareness of the project and help identify additional funding sources. Increased awareness of the project has put it on the radar of two private foundations devoted to Berkshire County projects. MWHS applied to both funders in 2023 and have already received promising news. AHF will continue to work alongside the MWHS and the town of Mount Washington in 2024 to advocate for the  project and to help close the gap in the construction budget to get this shovel-ready project underway.

Marriner Mill, Lawrence

Lastly, we were thrilled to see our friends at Trinity Financial officially launch 87 beautiful new units of mixed income housing the Fabrica Lofts in Lawrence. Historically known as Marriner Mill, AHF began working with Trinity on this mill conversion shortly after wrapping up work at Arlington Point, Trinity’s adjacent 100 unit project that anchors the eastern portion of the Arlington Mills Historic District. Helping to meet severe housing needs in the Merrimack Valley, Fabrica Lofts is already 100% leased up, and AHF was pleased to provide tax credit consulting to the project team to help bring this important resource back to active use.

The Charles River Speedway wins Kuehn Award from Preservation Massachusetts

AHF is so pleased to share that Preservation Massachusetts has named The Charles River Speedway a 2022 Robert H. Kuehn award winner. This award is particularly meaningful as it recognizes extraordinary projects that meld collaborative partnerships with creative and cutting-edge ideas for the rehabilitation and active reuse of historic buildings. We could not be more thankful for our partnership with DCR and the Commonwealth, and Bob Kuehn’s legacy in historic preservation and creative adaptive reuse projects continue to inspire us today.

We are honored to be award winners this year, and we are in great company – other award winners include extraordinary examples of great historic preservation projects like the Roslindale Branch of the Boston Public Library, the Courthouse Lofts in Worcester, the Knitting Mill Apartments in Fall River, and Swartz Hall at the Harvard Divinity School. We look forward to celebrating them all on May 11 at the annual Preservation Massachusetts Preservation Awards.

But that’s not all! The Charles River Speedway has also been nominated as a People’s Preservation Choice award, and we are asking for the support of the community to help us get to the top of the list. If you know and love the revitalized Speedway, we’d love to get your vote – click here to support The Speedway today!

Among a really great list of fellow nominees (this is going to be TOUGH), we put forth that the Charles River Speedway project has connected the public to historic preservation in a truly impactful and tangible way. Anchored by a biergarten and taproom (Notch Brewing) and a host of incredibly creative and talented vendors and retailers, including Boston’s first sake bar (The Koji Club) and a new location for mixologist Ran Duan of Blossom Bar (Birds of Paradise), the Speedway welcomes all to eat, drink, shop, and connect with neighbors every day. It is a place that invites you to practice yoga in the courtyard, buy local art, catch a concert in the flexible events space in Garage B (or perhaps hold your teen’s bar mitzvah?!), get the perfect haircut, and to grab a beer with your co-worker after work – all in the midst of a redeveloped historic complex that was once home to park administration offices, horse stables, snow removal equipment, and a police station.

Built in 1899 as the headquarters for a mile-long racetrack along the Charles River, the Speedway complex is a fascinating mix of building types across a 2-acre campus in Boston’s Brighton neighborhood. Designed by William D. Austin in the Shingle Style with Colonial Revival influences, the architecture mimics the styles often found in luxurious seaside escapes like Newport, used here to reinforce the premise that outdoor recreation and the enjoyment of leisure time is meant for all. Over time, the rise of the popularity of automobiles affected the complex in various ways, ultimately the racetrack was razed mid-century to make way for Soldiers Field Road. The Speedway Headquarters buildings were used for different purposes until the 1990s, slowly falling into disuse.

Owned by the Commonwealth and part of DCR’s Historic Curatorship Program, the redevelopment of the Speedway was made possible through a public and private partnership between DCR and the nonprofit Architectural Heritage Foundation. But the successful redevelopment of the Speedway was not accomplished by AHF and DCR alone.

From The Worcester Telegram – ‘Definitely a challenge’: $100 million needed to restore Worcester Memorial Auditorium

The estimated $100 million price tag to fix up the city’s long-vacant Memorial Auditorium in Lincoln Square comes with two questions: Is it worth it? Can it be done?

Yes, is the answer to both, said Jake Sanders as he recently gave the Telegram & Gazette a tour of the dilapidated 1933 building that serves as a memorial to World War I veterans.

The Worcester Telegram recently toured the Auditorium with AHF Project Executive Jake Sanders. Today, they published an in-depth look at the ongoing efforts to restore and revitalize the Aud. We urge you to read the whole article and take a look through the slideshow of images by Christine Peterson. We are grateful that the Worcester Telegram took the time to learn more about the project and tour the incredibly impressive space.

There are obstacles to be sure – if there weren’t, the Auditorium would have already been rehabilitated and currently in use. But we are dedicated to finding a modern and exciting reuse, connecting with investors, and bringing the Aud back to life.

Read the full article here.

2021 Year in Review

By all accounts, 2021 was a complicated year. While we came out of the worst of the pandemic and saw projects move forward in significant ways, there is still a sense of unease about the virus and how to operate in this ever-changing world. We have all learned to pivot again and again, to stay flexible, and to roll with the punches. But one thing is clear: we understand how AHF’s work to help communities spark economic and cultural growth is more important than ever. We are proud of what our team and our partners have accomplished this year – with grit, grace, and a lot of determination. Here are a few of our 2021 highlights.

The Speedway

2021 was the year that we took this complicated historic preservation project from a construction site to a living, breathing, revitalized destination to eat, drink and gather. Notch Brewing opened their taproom and biergarten over the summer, and this fall saw the openings of several Courtyard vendors and The Speedway’s flexible event space, Garage B. And we are just getting started: just wait until you see what 2022 will bring to The Speedway!

We were also so pleased to be a part of this video about DCR’s Historic Curatorship Program. We value our role in this important program that leverages private investment in the rehabilitation and reuse of significant historic properties, and were happy to talk about the experience on camera. Look for AHF’s Kara Anderson sharing some of her thoughts about our involvement with The Speedway! Bravo to Kevin Allen and the DCR team for putting together this important and compelling resource.

The Worcester Auditorium

As we moved ahead with one of our largest and most ambitious projects to date, the Worcester Memorial Auditorium, we took a significant leap forward: hiring Jake Sanders to be the Project Executive. The redevelopment effort, which aims to convert a five-story performance venue and memorial into an academic digital innovation lab, esports arena, and cultural center, is complex – to say the least. We needed someone on the ground that is smart, tactical, and knows Worcester through and through. With Jake, we found our ideal project executive, who is poised to lead the project into the next major phase in 2022.

Born and raised in Worcester, Jake played an integral role in the relocation of the Worcester Red Sox and the construction of Polar Park as a member of the negotiating and construction teams while employed by the City. While working for the City of Worcester, he spearheaded the redesign of the city website, created the process by which cannabis establishments would be allowed to operate, and represented the City with state and federal officials, corporate partners and community leaders to secure financial resources and strategic opportunities. You can read more about Jake and his role with the project here – but we really loved what U.S. Congressman Jim McGovern had to say about both: “The Worcester Memorial Auditorium is an architectural masterpiece, a magnificent monument to the veterans of World War I, and one of the crown jewels of our city. I’m thrilled that Jake Sanders will be leading the effort to turn this diamond in the rough into a downtown Worcester destination, and I look forward to partnering with him and his team as we bring this incredible venue back to life.”

Tax Credit and Grant Consulting

2021 was a year when we saw a lot of stuck projects get moving again. Over the years, we have learned a great deal about using historic tax credits and grants to take on “impossible” projects, and we love to bring that collected knowledge to partners across the region.

We worked with Trinity Financial to prepare Historic Tax Credit applications for the historic Marriner Mill in Lawrence, which will be kicking off construction in 2022. The project, known as Top Mill, joins a series of adaptive reuse efforts in Lawrence’s Arlington Mills Historic District, including Trinity Financial’s adjacent project at the Van Brodie Mill (now known as Arlington Point), that have revitalized vacant industrial buildings as much-needed residential space.

Our team continued to offer grant assistance and adaptive reuse guidance to projects like the Wright Building in Pittsfield, Cogswell School in Haverhill, North Brookfield Townhouse, the North Schoolhouse in Mt. Washington, and 343 Main Street, an underutilized anchor building in Great Barrington. Learn more about our current projects here.

Lastly, we harnessed the power of the Commonwealth’s new Underutilized Properties Program, assisting five applications for projects across the state. The program targets underutilized, abandoned, or vacant properties by supporting efforts that eliminate blight, increase housing production, support economic development projects, or increase the number of commercial buildings accessible to individuals with disabilities. In its first year, the program is funding 20 projects, totaling $7,516,000 in awards. More exciting information to come on these awards in 2022 – we have lots to share!

Our new branding – and our big move!

After a three-year strategic planning effort, we rebranded Architectural Heritage Foundation as AHF to reflect a shift away from historic property management to preservation-oriented development in under-resourced communities. We overhauled our website, shifted our focus, and after five decades at Old City Hall, we also moved our offices to The Speedway. The big move was partly an adaptation to the COVID economy, but primarily an effort to have a stronger presence in the communities AHF serves. Relocating to North Brighton allows AHF to strengthen its ties with the local community while emphasizing its commitment making preservation an option of “first resort” in historically under-resourced areas.

Architectural Heritage Foundation is a 501(c)3 dedicated to stimulating economic development in disinvested communities through historic preservation. Follow AHF and its projects on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and LinkedIn.

Speedway Progress Update: November 2021

As we prepare for our first holiday season at The Speedway, we realized that so much has happened since we shared our last project update here. Though it can often feel like progress is happening at a snail’s pace, in truth, SO much has happened in a few short months.

Here are a few key highlights:

First, we completed our move from Old City Hall to our new, beautiful office space here at the Speedway. We are thrilled to be part of this community in Brighton!

Next up: this summer, in the middle of a heat wave, Notch Brewing threw open their doors to the beer-loving public. The Upper Courtyard was transformed into a biergarten with tables and shade sails. (We are thankful that we had plans in place to make the courtyard a comfortable place, no matter the season.) If there’s one thing that we have learned from COVID, our outdoor spaces are incredibly important.

Garage B began its life as an event venue, hosting graduation parties, birthday parties, corporate and industry events, as well as special markets (including the Boston Women’s Market, which will be hosting three markets at Garage B this holiday season starting this weekend on 11/19 – as well as the Small Biz Saturday Market with Notch Brewing on 11/27)

After a months-long application and selection process, we are thrilled to report that we have found tenants for all of our “Shops at the Stables” retail spaces. These six small-scale retail storefronts have always been intended to become home to a collection of unique local businesses, making the Speedway the unique, richly layered destination that we set out to create from day one. We are so thankful to our leasing partners, Graffito SP, for their invaluable help making these connections, and we are so excited to welcome the following businesses to the stalls.

  • NOW OPEN! The House of Art and Craft, Steysy Clark, a scented candle and aromatherapy shop.
  • NOW OPEN! Bellwether Salon, a one-chair hair boutique by veteran stylist Melinda Brandt.
  • NOW OPEN! Cambridge Art Association, a satellite gallery and workshop space offering art classes and programs.
  • OPENING SOON: The Koji Club, Boston’s first sake bar from sake sommelier Alyssa Mikiko DiPasquale.
  • OPENING SOON: Hummus v’Hummus, a new “hummuseria” from Chef Avi Shemtov.
  • OPENING 2022: Tipping Cow Ice Cream, run by David Lindsey and Gerly Adrien.
  • OPENING 2022: Notch Provisions, a new culinary concept from the Notch Brewery team, featuring beer-friendly takeout options and merchandise.
  • OPENING 2022: Super Bien, a Latin American–inspired “grocery bar” concept from Melissa Stefanini, founder of Buenas.

We also welcomed two non-profit organizations – the Friends of Herter Park and the Fishing Academy – to the Speedway’s dedicated nonprofit office space. One of the key goals for the Speedway is to help facilitate the reconnection of the community to the broad recreational amenities of the Charles River, so we are particularly enthusiastic about the missions of the Friends of Herter Park and the Fishing Academy.

After a busy summer, we kicked things off with our first annual Labor Day Block Party at The Speedway, with live music, lawn games, and plenty of beer. Our tenants showed off their specialties and it felt SO good to welcome the world through The Speedway gates. A few weeks later, we welcomed many of our project partners to celebrate the official completion of the construction with a ribbon cutting ceremony in Garage B.

Rounding things out, we were so pleased to have the opportunity to talk about The Speedway as a historic preservation case study with Preservation Mass earlier this fall. AHF’s Kara Anderson and DCR’s Kevin Allen presented an in-depth look at the project, which can be viewed in whole here.  We are hopeful that some of the lessons we learned over the course of the past few years prove to be useful to others seeking to take on a complex project of their own.

Last but not least, we are thrilled to share that the New England Real Estate Journal recognized the Charles River Speedway as their October project of the month, and we congratulate our partners at D.F. Pray and Bruner/Cott for this recognition.

There is so much more to come as we near the end of 2021 – but for now, we are feeling immensely grateful for all of our partners, tenants, and friends here at The Speedway. To progress! To preservation! To making things work and getting things done!

Architectural Heritage Foundation is a 501(c)3 dedicated to stimulating economic development in disinvested communities through historic preservation. Follow AHF and its projects on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and LinkedIn.

Learn more about the Charles River Speedway revitalization project.

The Speedway Progress Update: May 2021

The Speedway courtyard in the evening
The lights are finally on at The Speedway.

The past few months have flown by, and The Speedway is almost ready to open! The site has changed so much since our New Year’s update: the courtyard has been made habitable, and the building interiors are well on their way there, too. Our anchor tenant, Notch Brewing, has started to outfit its space with machinery that wouldn’t be out of place in a steam-punk movie in preparation for its first small batches of Brighton-made beer. We’ve begun the process of moving our office from downtown Boston’s Old City Hall to The Speedway to be closer to the people we serve. Just last week, we introduced our newest vendor and put out a call for Allston-Brighton nonprofits to occupy a portion of the available office space. And soon we’ll announce an exciting group of creative operators who will fill the retail bays and help to turn The Speedway into the vibrant community gathering place we always envisioned it would be. Here’s a breakdown of the progress we made over the past four months:

1. Courtyard Is Complete

At long last, The Speedway’s courtyard looks like a space for people to have fun. Underground utilities, including a state-of-the-art, eco-friendly stormwater mitigation system, have been covered with gravel and beautifully patterned paving stones. A complex-wide sound system was installed to allow visitors to enjoy music while relaxing in the courtyard. Lamps and heaters were installed, ensuring year-round access to this outdoor area – a great idea during normal times that became absolutely critical in light of the pandemic. Speaking of accessibility, the decks, ramps, and handrails are ready for a steady stream of visitors of all ages and abilities. We’ve installed signage throughout the complex to orient visitors to the space and its history. All that’s left is for the beer garden furniture to arrive from Germany!

2. Notch Fit-Out

On April 22, The Speedway received an exciting delivery all the way from Vancouver: a control stand and brewing tanks for Notch’s Brighton location. This equipment brings much more than a steam-punk vibe to project. The control stand (left) regulates all process flow while turning grain into malt sugar before fermentation; the vertical cylindrical tanks (right, at left) are where the beer ferments; and the stacked cylindrical tanks (far right) are for lagering/ maturation. Once the beer is brewed, it will be served fresh in Notch’s new taproom, which is also nearing completion. The bar and seating area are under construction, and the space is being finished. We’re thrilled to see our anchor tenant’s space come together and look forward to seeing it bustle with activity in the months ahead.

3. Garage B at The Speedway

Introducing our event space, Garage B at The Speedway! The name for this 1940s-era garage was the subject of several intensive brainstorming sessions, during which we considered a range of possibilities, including The Annex and The Loft. But since the space is neither of these things, we settled for good, old historical authenticity. Garage B offers 3,300 sq ft of interior space and 1,700 sq ft of private courtyard space, and can accommodate up to 240 people. The building’s large garage doors open to the outside, providing the option of significant airflow for those taking extra COVID precautions. Now that Massachusetts is beginning to open up, we’re taking reservations for private, community, and corporate events for mid-June and beyond.

4. Office Space Available

One thing the pandemic has taught us is that there’s no replacement for in-person interaction. Several office and co-working spaces are available to rent in Buildings F and G, which includes a shared conference room and kitchen area. Tenants will be able to take advantage of The Speedway’s high-speed internet, which will extend throughout the complex to serve the visiting public in the courtyard and events in Garage B. In keeping with the legislation that allowed AHF to lease the property from DCR, we’re offering 300 sq ft of heavily discounted office space to an Allston-Brighton nonprofit. And we recently announced that we’re moving our own offices from Boston’s Old City Hall to The Speedway to be closer to the communities we serve.

5. Retail Bays Are Ready

What once was a collection of horse stables and storage sheds is about to open for business. Our friends at Bruner/Cott and D.F. Pray preserved the rough, utilitarian character of the stalls by exposing wooden beams and leaving some walls unfinished to highlight the wood grain. To keep the barriers of entry low for our creative operators, we finished the retail bays so that they’re ready for occupancy and are offering flexible lease terms with both short and long commitment options to accommodate the uncertainty that comes with running a small business, particularly during the pandemic. We’re excited for the eclectic mix of tenants who will operate the stalls. Speaking of which…

6. New Tenant!

We’re trilled to welcome our first creative operator to The Speedway! Joining Notch at the complex will be Tipping Cow, a Somerville-based manufacturer of gourmet, allergen-free ice cream. We can’t wait to sample the dozens of delicious flavors that the folks at Tipping Cow have dreamed up (blueberry lime cheesecake, anyone?). All of the ice cream is peanut, tree-nut, and sesame-free, and there is a wide selection of vegan options, as well. We couldn’t be happier that Tipping Cow has chosen to open its second location at The Speedway.

Next month, The Speedway’s doors will open. We hope to see you there.

The Speedway Western Ave. entrance opening to the courtyard

Architectural Heritage Foundation is a 501(c)3 dedicated to stimulating economic development in disinvested communities through historic preservation. Follow AHF and its projects on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and LinkedIn.

Learn more about the Charles River Speedway revitalization project.

AHF Rebrands to Reflect Shifting Focus to Historic Property Redevelopment

After a three-year strategic planning effort, the Architectural Heritage Foundation has rebranded as AHF, overhauled its website, and is in the process of relocating its offices from downtown Boston’s Old City Hall to the Charles River Speedway in Brighton. The changes reflect a shift away from historic property management to preservation-oriented development in under-resourced communities. AHF was fortunate to have the assistance of FireRock Marketing and Exponent Collaborative during the planning and rebranding process.

Over the five decades of AHF’s existence, the focus of historic preservationists has undergone a dramatic change. AHF pioneered adaptive reuse at a time when house museums dominated the preservation landscape and urban planners favored replacing historic structures with modern ones. In 1969, the organization redeveloped Boston’s Old City Hall into a thriving office and restaurant building, demonstrating that vacant historic properties could be reintegrated into the urban fabric. AHF managed Old City Hall for the next fifty years, during which time adaptive reuse grew increasingly popular as a community growth and empowerment strategy. While AHF occasionally departed from its primary role as a historic property manager to rehabilitate underutilized buildings, it was not until 1999, under the new leadership of Sean McDonnell, that the organization began to devote more attention to the trend it helped to initiate: stimulating economic development in disinvested places through historic preservation.

“This has been a long time coming,” says McDonnell of the rebranding. “The name Architectural Heritage Foundation no longer reflects the work we’ve been and are doing over the past two-plus decades to help communities ‘unstick’ preservation projects and generate economic development. People mistook us for an architectural firm or preservation philanthropy. We’ll always be the “Architectural Heritage Foundation” entirely, but referring to the organization consistently as AHF, not to mention the new website, will help us simplify and amplify our message as the go-to agency for historic preservation and economic development for critical community projects.”

In addition to rebranding, AHF is moving its offices out of the basement of Old City Hall and into the newly rehabbed Charles River Speedway. This decision is partly an adaptation to the COVID economy, but also an effort to have a stronger presence in the communities AHF serves. Since 1969, Boston has experienced a surge in investment that has provided unprecedented resources for historic preservation downtown. In consequence, AHF has prioritized other parts of the city and the Commonwealth whose economies and historic resources are more vulnerable. The Speedway is the latest outcome of this shift in focus. Relocating to North Brighton will allow AHF to strengthen its ties with the local community while emphasizing its commitment making preservation an option of “first resort” in historically under-resourced areas.

“The field of preservation has grown so much since AHF was established, and we needed to rethink where we fit in” McDonnell observes. “A lot of people – from AHF Board members to our consultants – have helped us find our niche as a nonprofit developer and consultant. I’m incredibly grateful for their hard work and excited for the new chapter AHF has begun.”

Let’s work together.