The New Riding Club of Boston
By Daniel Hinchen, Reader Services
The Boston area is known for some very famous examples of architecture. Just think of the variously colored steeples that dot the campus of Harvard in nearby Cambridge; the golden dome of the State House; and of course, the grand brownstones that line Newbury and Beacon Streets and Commonwealth Avenue. One architectural style that is not well represented in Boston, though, is the Tudor Revival style. And yet, just around the corner from the MHS, among the rows of stone and brick apartment buildings, is a fine example of that style.
At 52 Hemenway Street there stands a three-storied building with a steeply pitched roof, high chimneys, dormer windows, and just a touch of the half-timbered feature that makes the Tudor Revival style so noticeable. While it may be missing the herringbone brickwork and mullioned windows of most structures in this style, it is nonetheless distinguishable as a Tudor Revival building.
The building has served as a home to two very different organizations. And while it may look out of place in its neighborhood, it has been standing for 120 years and has a spot on the National Register of Historic Places.
Designed by Willard T. Sears, 52 Hemenway was first home to the New Riding Club of Boston. A quick look at the building’s exterior shows one repeated feature that hints to its original use: around the building are several large portals -- some arched -- resembling modern-day garage doors giving the viewer the impression of stables.
Built in 1891, it allowed for easy access to the bridle paths in the nearby Back Bay Fens, which had recently been completed by Frederick Law Olmsted. Inside the building there were several stables for horses, as well as a riding ring. It retained this make-up until 1934 when it was acquired by the Badminton and Tennis Club.* After the take-over, the riding ring was converted to tennis courts. Finally, in 1985 the remaining stables were converted into residential apartments.
The MHS does not hold much original material relating to either of these organizations in our collections. We do hold original copies of the published by-laws and rules of the New Riding Club, from 1920 and 1924. Interested neighbors may view these items in our library.
*The Badminton and Tennis Club is affiliated with the Boston Tennis and Racquet Club whose home is in the Back Bay at 939 Boylston St. which was built in 1902 and contributes to the area’s designation as a National Register Historic District.
| Published: Wednesday, 6 June, 2012, 8:00 AM
Happy Birthday, Fenway Park!
Today hordes of people -- Red Sox fans and baseball stadium aficionados alike -- will descend on Fenway Park to celebrate the 100th anniversary of that venerable stadium's opening in 1912.
We at the MHS are lucky. Being just a short walk from the ball park allows us to watch as a sea of red and blue outfitted fans make their way down Boylston Street toward the park for each home game. This morning, I was struck by the fact that the MHS has stood at 1154 Boylston since 1898, more than a decade before the park opened. It made me wonder if Charles Francis Adams, MHS president from 1895 to 1915, and other MHS members stood before one of the large first floor windows and watched folks make their way to Fenway Park 100 years ago today. If they did, I would imagine they did not worry so much if the end of the day game coincided with quitting time at the MHS -- as the current staff, anticipating traffic woes, now does.
The two images here are postcards held in our collection. The cards, sent to members of the Pond family in Connecticut, were posted in January and March 1914. Although there is no evidence on the cards how much before that date they were printed, it is safe to assume they offer a fun glimpse of Fenway close to the time of its opening.
One final thought on Fenway's special day. Although the season is off to a bit of a rocky start, let's hope the Sox bring home another one of these! Click here to learn more about the 1912 World Series medal held by the MHS.
| Published: Friday, 20 April, 2012, 8:00 AM