The Charles River Speedway Administration Building, divided into a residence, police station, office, and ancillary stable and storage buildings, reflected the Metropolitan Park Commission’s administrative structure, which required that the park superintendent, who carried the rank of Police Captain, reside on the reservation. The MPC administrative area serviced by the Charles River Speedway Administration Building was bounded by the Cottage Farm Bridge (now Boston University Bridge) and the Watertown Dam.
With the exception of “shore work,” undertaken by contractor H.P. Nawn, work at the Speedway section was completed on August 25, 1899. Tree planting and landscape work continued through 1900.
The Speedway proved incredibly popular. In 1904, the private Metropolitan Driving Club was established, with a clubhouse and stables on a privately-owned parcel adjacent to the reservation; the group soon boasted a membership of 250. The Metropolitan Driving Club sponsored many of the races, horseshows, and other events that took place at the Speedway. As public interest in the recreational opportunities afforded by the reservation continued, the Metropolitan Park Commission expanded the Charles River Speedway Administration Building. An additional stable was constructed, suggesting that an expanded MPC Police force was patrolling the reservation.
In 1910, the Charles River Dam was completed, stabilizing the river’s tides and establishing the beginnings of a clean, freshwater Charles River Basin. After the river had been dammed, the portion of the reservation that had been known as Charles River Reservation, Upper Division, Speedway section was referred to as the Charles River Reservation Upper Basin. After this change in divisional nomenclature, the Speedway Administration Building was often called the Charles River Reservation Upper Basin Headquarters.
The Metropolitan Park Commission merged with the Metropolitan Water and Sewerage Board in 1919, and the combined organization was known as the Metropolitan District Commission. The original administrative structure of the MPC, with a dedicated on-site Superintendent and Police force, remained in place.
The Charles River Speedway Administration Building was further altered in the 1920s, as the Metropolitan District Commission Police force shifted from mounted to automobile patrols. Stables were converted to garages or used as storage space, and a larger and more modern MDC Police Station was built.
Stay tuned for the history of the Speedway Building in the 1930's and beyond!