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.