Welcome to the Belmont Historical Society’s website. Our mission is to promote greater understanding and appreciation of the history, residents, contributions, and structure of the town of Belmont, Massachusetts. Find out more about what we do and other information about the Society by clicking on What We Do.
Programs From September through May of each year (with a vacation in January) the Society presents a monthly program on a topic associated with the history of Belmont and surrounding communities. Our next program will be on Sunday, April 9, 2017 when James C. O’Connell will present a fascinating look at more than two centuries of culinary trends in Boston restaurants drawn from his book Dining Out in Boston. Visit our Coming Events page for more information. You may also watch streaming videos of recent programs, including the March 5th program which featured Lydia Ogilby tracing the history of the Hill-Richardson families in Belmont. These videos are provided through the courtesy of the Belmont Media Center — the links are on the Recent Events page.
Historic House Plaque Program The Belmont Historical Society operates a Historic House Plaque Program that offers attractive exterior wooden plaques that can be used to identify historically interesting properties that are are least 50 years old. This program imposes no restrictions on the properties or special requirements on the homeowners. We are actively soliciting applications from property owners who would like to identify their properties as historically interesting and significant. Click here for further information about the program, resources for tracing the history of your property, and the application form for a plaque. The next set of Historic House Plaques will be awarded at our annual meeting on May 17th, 2017..
Old Images of Belmont Recently the Belmont Historical Society was contacted by representatives of Foodies Market who expressed an interest in displaying some historic local images in their new Belmont Center location at 75 Leonard Street. This independently owned and family-run gourmet grocery store is scheduled to open this spring in the space vacated by Macy’s department store in 2013 and previously occupied for many years by Filene’s department store. In early January, members of the Historical Society met with Foodies owner Victor Leon and his design assistant to select well-known historic images of familiar locations around Belmont Center to be enlarged, framed, and mounted in the entry of their new store. Among the photographs to be displayed are the Underwood Pool in 1912, the Tudor Block designed by local architect Eleazer Homer, and the old Fire Station Headquarters built in 1899 with its volunteer fire company and horse-drawn apparatus. Click here to see the images that will be on display.
When the new Foodies location opens this spring, you can stop by to see some of the treasures in the extensive image collection that the Belmont Historical Society works to maintain and preserve in its headquarters at the Belmont Memorial Library’s Claflin Room. The Society has an Image Reproduction Policy governing the use of materials in its collection for various purposes. If your business or organization is interested, contact us at (617) 993-2878 or email@example.com.
Historic Preservation Awards Each year the Belmont Historical Society invites community members to nominate projects that have furthered preservation efforts in the town for the David R. Johnson Preservation Award. David Johnson was a former President of the Society, its long-time Treasurer, and an architect with a deep interest in historic preservation. The 2017 awards will be presented at the Society’s annual meeting on May 17th, 2017, and nominations for award recipients are now being accepted. Click here for further information and the award nomination form.
Latest Newsletter The latest issue of our quarterly newsletter (December 2016) has been mailed to all members of the Society. This newsletter is devoted to Belmont’s reputation as the “Town of Homes” which probably got its start in the 1930’s. To quote from the beginning of the newsletter, “Since that time the distinction has continued to be supported by the diversity of architectural styles that make up the mainly residential landscape. Within its borders Belmont still boasts three properties which date from the 1600’s, a half dozen or so built in the 1700’s and even more which were built around the time of the incorporation thru to the mid 1900’s. All over town one can find notable examples of almost every architectural style including houses of the Federal period 1780-1830, Greek and Gothic revival 1830-1870, Second Empire 1855-1875, Bungalow and Craftsman 1910-1920, and even several of the modern International style 1940-1960. To raise awareness of the historic buildings in our town the Belmont Historical Society launched its Historic House Plaque Program in 2014. This program has been designed to encourage property owners to share the unique architectural features of their property with the community by applying for a hand-crafted marker that will display the name of the home’s original owner and its construction date. There are many houses within our borders that are of historic interest and many that are currently included in the inventory of historic resources kept by the Massachusetts Historical Commission.”
The newsletter goes on to describe 15 Belmont properties that have been awarded historic plaques so far, including the 1895 Amos Taylor Queen Anne-style house that was featured on the popular public television show This Old House in 2015. If you did not receive this latest issue (which is one of the benefits of Belmont Historical Society membership), you are invited to review the current and past issues in the Claflin Room (see below). Of course, we always welcome new members and invite you to take an active role in the Society’s activities. To learn more and to download an application form, click on Membership.
The Claflin Room The Belmont Historical Society’s collections are housed in the Claflin Room of the Belmont Public Library. The Claflin Room is normally open to the public and staffed by a Society volunteer on the following days:
Monday afternoon from 2:00 to 4:00 pm
Tuesday evening from 7:00 to 9:00 pm
Wednesday afternoon from 2:00 to 4:00 pm
Thursday evenings from 7:00 to 9:00 pm.
However, the Claflin Room will not be open to the public on Thursday evening, March 16th when it will be used for the monthly meeting of the library’s Board of Trustees.
Restoration of Historic Wellington Station The photograph at the top of this web page shows the historic Wellington Station, originally built as a private school building in the 1840’s and then used as the Belmont station for the Fitchburg Railroad from 1852 until 1879. Today the Wellington Station is owned and maintained by the Belmont Historical Society and sits just outside the town center at the intersection of Concord Avenue and Common Street. In the fall of 2014 the Society submitted an application for 2015 Community Preservation Act (CPA) funding to replace the deteriorating wood shingle roof on this iconic Belmont landmark. On May 6, 2015 the Belmont Town Meeting members approved our request of $26,300 by a unanimous vote which will allow this much-needed restoration work to be completed in 2017. In October 2016 the Society’s Board approved funding to cover the repair of the deteriorated wooden porch surrounding the station and painting the posts and exterior trim of the building. That maintenance work has begun, and you may see a slideshow of the work in progress. Click here to learn more about this important piece of Belmont history and the CPA process.
Belmont Story Project The Belmont Story Project is a collaborative effort by the Belmont Media Center, Belmont Public Library, Belmont Citizen-Herald, Belmont Council on Aging, and the Belmont Historical Society to build an oral history of our community. This project gives residents the opportunity to preserve and share their stories and memories for current and future generations via recorded video interviews. You may see and hear the stories that have been collected to date by visiting https://soundcloud.com/belmont-story-project. To learn more about this project, visit http://belmontpubliclibrary.net/about/belmont-story-project/ If you would like to add your story and memories of Belmont to this growing collection by arranging for a recording session, call 617-993-2870 for recording in the Claflin Room at the library or 617-484-2443 for recording at the Belmont Media Center.
New Book About Belmont The new updated edition of The Streets of Belmont and How They Were Named was published in 2014 and is now available for purchase. This book traces the development of what is now Belmont from its beginnings as a rural sparsely populated farm community through its incorporation as a separate town in 1859 and its steady growth and transition into the “Town of Homes” that it is today. The original edition has long been out of print, but Town Historian Richard Betts has completed the revision which brings the story up to the second decade of the 21st century. On May 21, 1996 Dick Betts gave a presentation of the original version of The Streets of Belmont at a Society meeting. That presentation was videotaped, and the tape was recently digitized by the Belmont Media Center as part of its Belmont Community Moving Image Archive. You may now view that video here. Click on Publications to learn more about the new update of that book and download an order form to get your own copy.
Our website is a work in progress and we will continue to update it and add content, so visit us again soon. If you have any questions about the Belmont Historical Society or comments about this website, email us at BelmontHistory1859@nullgmail.com.