Fenway Park Grandstand 9/29/2012
Bain Collection, Library of Congress
Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts, is home of the Red
Sox, one of the oldest baseball teams in Major League Baseball.
Fenway Park was constructed in 1912 and it is listed in the
National Register of Historic Places at local, state, and
national levels of significance. It is historically important
as a location associated with a community, for the history
of the sport of baseball, for momentous team moments, and
for nationally important baseball players, such as Babe Ruth, Ted Williams,
and Carl Yastrzemski. From its groundbreaking in 1911 to the
present day, Fenway Park has been the home of the Boston Red
Sox. Only Wrigley Field/Chicago Cubs, and, until recently,
Yankee Stadium (demolished 2010) New York Yankees, share the
same longstanding association of a ballpark with a team. Fenway
Park is significant as one of the few remaining stadium complexes
built during the “Golden Age of Ballparks”, (1909-1923).
Designed by James E. McLaughlin, the Fenway Park façade is
a good and intact example of the Tapestry Brickstyle. Typically
built in red brick with cast-stone or stucco detail, Tapestry
Brick is characterized by walls laid in decorative brick patterns,
often in one plane, and ornamented by stucco accents that
contrast with the brick. While at times Tapestry Brick was
used as a modest architectural expression, Fenway Park exhibits
more exuberant ornamentation, such as projecting and recessed
courses or planes of brick, diamond patterns in brick and
stucco, hood molds over the entrance arches, and the pedimented
frames, which now hold commemorative plaques.
HISTORY OF AREA
Where Fenway Park stands was once wet marshland called the
Back Bay Fens. Eventually this area was drained and turned
into a park called Emerald Necklace, designed by world-renowned
landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. This public park
area and subsequent neighborhood development continued in
the 19th-century and the neighborhood became the West Fens
or Fenway Park.
B. Smith Building Photograph
courtesy of the MA SHPO
JOHN B. SMITH BUILDING
This nomination also includes the adjoining John B. Smith building,
built in 1914, which has housed a number of retail and wholesale businesses, a media headquarters,
and a bowling alley. The two-story, reinforced-concrete, red-brick
building occupies its entire lot. The pressed-brick cladding
is offset by cast-stone detail. Each street-level entrance
and present storefront is articulated by a simple molded surround.
The three pedestrian-scale entries on Brookline Avenue have
a square-arched surround. At the second story, there are shallow
projecting pavilions over each of the three pedestrian entries.
The earliest tenants included a number of automobile related
businesses and typically at least one auto dealer. By the
1940s the building was also a media headquarters, housing
WMEX Broadcasting Station, World-Wide Broadcasting, and more.
As early as 1930, the city directory lists the Shortwave and
Television Laboratory, Incorporated, at this address. The
first simultaneous transmission of a radio and television
signal originated from this building on February 5, 1930. In 1949, a connecting passageway was constructed from the second story of the Fenway Park Grandstand to the Smith Building to allow the media easier access to the stadium.
Fenway Park today
Photograph courtesy of the MA SHPO
HIGHLIGHTS OF FENWAY PARK
Inside the park, the central feature is the playing field
measuring approximately 7.5 acres. Noted for its quirks and
asymmetry, the field's current dimensions are: left-field
foul line, 310 feet; left-center field, 379 feet; center field,
390 feet; deep center field, 420 feet; deepest right-center
field, 380 feet, right-field foul line, 302 feet; and backstop,
52 feet. The left-field, metal-clad wall (the Green Monster,
1934) defines the short left-field dimension
and has a steel ladder running up the face of the wall.
The bullpens, constructed in front of the bleachers in 1940,
shortened right and right-center fields to their current dimensions.
At that time, the right-field wall was rebuilt in a curve
to meet the corner of the new bullpens, replacing the angular
alignment of the original wall in the right-field comer. Fenway
Park's small foul territory is another of its distinctive
characteristics. Portions of the left and right-field foul
lines run within inches of the field wall, which encloses
the seating, thus adding to the intimacy of the game. Two
features of the park well known to fans are the right-field
foul pole, named in honor of shortstop Johnny Pesky, who,
in his nineties, is still seen at games in uniform, and the
left-field foul pole, named for Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk,
who won memorable game 6 of the 1975 World Series by hitting
a home run off the foul pole in the twelfth inning.
these seats could talk... Photograph courtesy of MA SHPO
Another unique feature to Fenway Park is the manually operated
scoreboard, evoking a sense of the past and tradition. The
original scoreboard, installed in March 1912, was replaced
in 1934, and the new scoreboard was installed in the left-field
wall. The existing scoreboard is a replica of the 1934 scoreboard.
FENWAY PARK CULTURE
Fenway Park has acquired significance beyond its role as the
place where the Boston Red Sox play baseball. It is tied to
a symbiosis in the relationship between
the team and Red Sox fans and an entire region, and Fenway
Park has become a place of pilgrimage, a place to experience
even when there is no baseball game underway. The crowds of
more than 200,000 visitors that tour the ballpark each year
do not take into account those who, when the ballpark is closed,
walk by, come in tour buses or by car, get out, take pictures
of the park, or take their own photo at Fenway Park.
Fenway Park facade today
Photograph courtesy of MA SHPO
The nature of the experience of Fenway Park derives from
the intimacy of the space and the proximity of the fans to
the team (as well as to each other,) and from the pleasure
of being a part of the continuum in the team's history as
well as the past longstanding agony of enduring the team's
failures. All are participants in whatever transpires at Fenway.
The tradition of attending Red Sox games at Fenway Park (and
perhaps the actual tickets to the seats) is passed down through
multiple generations, and the shared experience of children
attending with their parents or grandparents creates a cherished
ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF HISTORY AND FENWAY'S FUTURE
“We are pleased to recognize the 100th anniversary of Fenway
Park, home of Boston Red Sox, one of the most storied teams
in sports history,” said NPS Director Jonathan B. Jarvis.
“Built in 1912 during the Golden Age of Ballparks, Fenway
Park is the nation’s oldest operating major league baseball
stadium, and we look forward to the next century of baseball
history at Fenway.” A recent rehabilitation has ensured that
Fenway Park will remain a viable venue for major league baseball
and a major presence in the lives of the people of Boston
and the region.
To see more photographs of Fenway Park and other National
Register properties go to our photostream on Flickr.
Read the full Fenway Park nomination.
National Park Service Press Release - Historic Fenway Park Receives National Recognition as Part of 100th Anniversary Celebration
Compiled from Massachusetts Historical Commission, Fenway
Park NRHP Nomination, Massachusetts SHPO December 2011.