Monday, September 6, 2010

UPDATED: Horsing Around At the Old Barracks

Detail, Old State Police Barracks, Brighton MA

From Dave Brigham:

UPDATE: Well, better late than never, I found out what the deal is with these buildings. In my original online searches, I used terms the following search terms -- "brighton mass. state police barracks abandoned" -- and found absolutely nothing. Just goes to show you, that the Internet will tell you just about anything you want to know, but only if you know what you're looking for.

Here's my revised entry.

Thanks to a guy named Mike Rubino, Jr. opting to make the photos you see here "favorites" on Flickr, I checked out his Flickr page and discovered that the buildings on Western Ave. and Soldiers Field Road in Brighton, Mass., aren't former state police barracks, but rather something more interesting and colorful.

Mike, who runs the M.D.C. Police Photos web site, has a picture of one of these buildings on his Flickr page, under the title "Speedway Headquarters, Charles River Reservation." I read that and thought, "Huh, what the heck is the Speedway?"

A search turned up good information from both the Boston Public Library and Brighton Allston Historical Society web sites. From the BAHS site:

"One of the functions the Speedway served was to accommodate the recreational vehicles that had previously used the Brighton Road (the portion of Commonwealth Ave lying west of Kenmore Square) as well as Beacon St in Brookline for driving and racing horse drawn conveyances. As these roadways experienced increased development and automotive traffic in the early years of the century, the focus of such activity switched to the Charles River Speedway."

In other words, the powers that be saw that this race track was built in order to accommodate speed-crazy teenagers and their horse-drawn buggy races! If the History Channel made a show about this phenomenon, they'd have to call it, "Gone in 60 Minutes."

Anyway, the BAHS site continues:

"The Superintendent's Building was located at the intersection of Western Ave and Soldier's Field Rd. and is the only portion of the complex that still remains."

Old State Police Barracks, Brighton MA #3

So that's what we're looking at here. The race course survived into the 1960s, amazingly enough. The superintendent's building and the other buildings were used until about 10 years ago, for use by the old Metropolitan District Commission and the Public Access Board.

The former race track area is now of mixed use, from parkland to office buildings and housing.

In my original post, when I thought that the buildings were former State Police barracks, I speculated that the state would eventually tear down the complex and a) build a proper facility for the State Police, who use an ugly brick building adjacent to this property, or, b) sell the land for retail, office or housing or, c) clear it for a park, which is what the site was originally.

Well, turns out that just three months ago, the Massachusetts Historical Commission filed a National Register of Historic Places registration form with the National Park Service, looking to preserve the buildings, and, presumably, restore them. That would be much more interesting than my original speculations about what might become of the site. Here's hoping the site makes it to the national register.

Old State Police Barracks, Brighton MA #4

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