For photos of the Speedway clean-up, visit the Events page.
On February 25, at the request of the Mass DCR and the Architectural Heritage Foundation, thirteen members of the Hingham-based Student Conservation Association Historic Preservation crew arrived at the Speedway for a winter clean-up. The 2019 cohort is less than a month into their AmeriCorps-sponsored service; thus, the Speedway was one of their first preservation projects. Battling wind speeds of 25-30 mph, with gusts up to 60 mph, they cleared piles of dead leaves from the courtyard, ash and charred wood from the site's burned section, and several decades-worth of unused objects from the buildings. By noon, they had filled a 30-yard dumpster with debris: broken window frames, rickety office furniture, moldy stuffed animals, even an unusable boat. The interns, whose interests range from ecology to ancient Roman archaeology, were intrigued by the site's conservation history and enjoyed exploring the old MDC police station. As they surveyed the complex, with its boarded windows and weathered shingles, one crew member expressed what AHF and the Brighton community have long felt: "I can't wait to see what this place becomes."
For photos of the Speedway clean-up, visit the Events page.
The Architectural Heritage Foundation is delighted to welcome back the Student Conservation Association (SCA) to the Speedway Headquarters for another day of pre-restoration site work. Last November, the Hingham-based SCA Historic Preservation crew cleared several tons of vegetation and debris from the historic complex in anticipation of this year's upcoming construction start date. The 2018 crew did such a great job, that AHF and the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (the state agency in charge of the site) invited the new 2019 cohort to finish the work. On February 25, thirteen young women and men will remove several decades-worth of unused objects from the Speedway's interiors. Their help will ensure a smooth transition to the rehabilitation work slated to begin in the spring or summer.
Thank you, SCA! We look forward to working with you again!
A Speedway in central mass? DCR's historic curatorship program offers new future for historic mount wachusett building
The Speedway Headquarters is not the only Shingle-style building with a recreational history in Massachusetts to be granted a new lease on life. Fifty miles away, the Superintendent's House at the Wachusett Mountain State Reservation has been undergoing rehabilitation through the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation's Historic Curatorship Program - the same program facilitating redevelopment of the Speedway. Besides their architecture and ownership, the two buildings have much in common. Both were constructed during at the turn of the twentieth century, when the state park system was being created; both served as residences for superintendents of state recreational agencies that eventually merged under DCR (the Metropolitan District Commission and Department of Environmental Management); both will contain food and beverage establishments and non-profit space; and both will serve as way-stations for people pursuing recreational opportunities in DCR parks.
The Wachusett Superintendent's House, also known as the Vickery House, has long been a point of concern for the surrounding Princeton, MA community. Vacant for more than thirty years, the building sustained damage from the elements and vandalism. DCR's periodic investment in structural repairs was not enough to prevent the house from languishing.
Enter Katherine Huck and Robin Springfield. The Princeton residents wished to expand their local bakery Mountainside Market and were also eager see the Superintendent's House restored. Thus, when DCR included the building in its Historic Curatorship Program, Huck and Springfield seized the opportunity to do both. They proposed redeveloping the house as a mixed-use facility with a bakery, small brewery, offices, and non-profit space catering to the Princeton community, as well as visiting hikers, and skiers. DCR accepted their proposal and granted them a forty-year lease on the property. They commenced the $969,000 project last November. As with any historic preservation effort, rehabilitation of the Superintendent's House is far from easy. The structure must be brought up to code and its architectural features carefully repaired, sometimes off-site. In light of these complexities, Huck and Springfield estimate that full restoration will not be complete until 2023. However, they hope to open the ground floor to the pubic as early as this coming March. Patrons can expect an outdoor patio with Adirondack chairs and fire pits, a beautiful view of an adjacent hiking trail, and, of course, plenty of good food.
For more information on the Wachusett Mountain Project, visit:
Last Friday, November 9, the Hingham Student Conservation Association Historical Preservation crew spent the day volunteering at the Speedway Headquarters. Ten young men and women braved blustery weather and mid-autumn chill as they removed vegetation, fallen leaves, and clutter from the complex, filling two 30-yard dumpsters. The work was scheduled in response to concerns expressed by community members at the September public information session that the site was beginning to look untidy, particularly along Western Ave. Thanks to the SCA crew and DCR staff, the Speedway has been spruced up and is ready for construction to begin next spring!
Below are a series of before-and-after photos of the site:
The Historic Curatorship Program is a great preservation tool developed by the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). This program works with private groups to find new uses for historic properties. By leasing the property to a private owner who finances the restoration and upkeep for a select period of time, the historic resource is saved and brought back to viable use. The Speedway Building is just one of the many DCR properties and we would like to take time to highlight other successful outcomes of the Historic Curatorship Program.