The Appalachian Mountain Club on Monday closed on the purchase of a prominent building in Charlestown’s City Square, where it will move its headquarters after nearly a century of running its operations from Beacon Hill.
The nonprofit outdoors group, which manages trails, huts, outings, and conservation efforts from the mid-Atlantic to Maine, paid $13.1 million for the six-story brick-and-beam building at 10 City Square, known as Roughan Hall. The club’s staff of roughly 70 will move there next fall, the group said.
The acquisition follows the AMC’s decision earlier this year to sell its 5 Joy St. headquarters, comprised of three cramped former residential buildings, to a development group for $15 million. The developers are allowing the AMC to remain on Joy Street until the move.
John Judge, the AMC’s chief executive, said his team picked the Charlestown building over 40 other options because of its spacious layout, historic character, reasonable price, and location near the Freedom Trail and various parks.
“We’re thrilled to be able to keep our headquarters in Boston, which was one of our priorities when we started looking a year ago,” Judge said. “This building gives us room to grow. It sets us up for the next 100 years of the AMC, and gives us a real anchor or cornerstone in the Boston and New England communities.”
The group plans to extensively renovate the Charlestown building, he added, including by installing more efficient heating and cooling systems.
“If you drove by the Joy Street buildings in August, you’d see 30 air-conditioning units hanging out the windows,” Judge said. “As the country’s oldest conservation organization, it wasn’t exactly walking the walk.”
Judge had previously said the AMC wanted to move to a more diverse neighborhood, part of a larger strategy to recruit more young people, city dwellers, and people of color into an organization that skews older and white. While Charlestown is mostly white, the building, he said, will help the group expand its outreach to various communities, and its extensive frontage in a busy pedestrian hub that’s also near highways will increase the AMC’s visibility.
“We looked at a ton of spaces in every possible location and, quite frankly, there wasn’t much out there that fit our needs and fit our budget,” Judge said. “Diversity, equity, and inclusion are still a huge deal for us, and we’re going to continue to work on getting underserved communities outdoors.”
Judge said the AMC is looking to create a “21st century gear shed” on or near its new property, which would allow it to collect more donated equipment for Boston youths to use on AMC excursions. He also stressed that despite the expenditures on the new building, the group remains committed to maintaining its far-flung network of trails, huts, and campsites that many families return to annually. The organization reported around $30 million in revenue in 2015; annual memberships cost $50 for an individual and $75 for a family.
Built in 1892 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Roughan Hall was previously the location of chef Todd English’s now-defunct Olives restaurant and currently houses Legal Sea Foods’ “Oysteria” concept restaurant.
The AMC will use about half of the 38,000-square-foot building, on three floors that are vacant or occupied by firms with expiring leases, The restaurant and other companies will remain as tenants of the AMC in the other half.
Judge said that if the AMC grows significantly, it may eventually expand into more of the building as tenants move out, but that any such move would be years away. For now, the group is happy to have the rental income to help fund renovations, Judge said.