The Beehive: the official blog of the Massachusetts Historical Society

The New Riding Club of Boston

The Boston area is known for some very famous examples of architecture. Photograph of 52 Hemenway Street, front of buildingJust 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. Photo of side of 52 Hemenway StreetA 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.


permalink | Published: Wednesday, 6 June, 2012, 8:00 AM


Jun 8, 2012, 7:48 pm

Katherine Greenough

Hello, First, having lived in the Audubon Circle-Fenway area for 40 years and being a big fan of Boston history, particularly the history of this neighborhood, I'm thrilled to see you have a series called "Around the neighborhood"! I'll definitely read the other posts! I must say, however, that I'm very surprised someone from MHS would misspell Frederick Law Olmsted's name there's no "a" -- a common mistake, but we owe him the correct spelling!
Thank you again,
Katherine Greenough

Jun 12, 2012, 11:45 am


Thank you, Katherine. Glad you will be following the series. And thanks for catching that rouge 'a'. The correction has been made!

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