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.
Feedback We appreciate the feedback that we received from those of you who responded to our survey using either the interactive online form available on this website or the paper form that was mailed to all members. One of the suggestions that we received concerning our website was that we provide a brief overview of the history of the town of Belmont. That was a welcome suggestion, and we have done it. We have added a new item (“Belmont History”) to our main menu with two drop-down sub-items: a “Brief History” page, and our “Historic Happenings” page which was formerly included on the main menu. Please take a look. We hope to add more interesting content about the town’s history in the near future, so check back occasionally. Also, please feel free to use our online survey form at any time to offer your opinions and suggestions.
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 Monday and Wednesday afternoons from 2:00 to 4:00 pm and Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 7:00 to 9:00 pm. However, the Claflin Room will not be open to the public on the following evenings:
Tuesday, May 5th (Belmont Historical Society Board Meeting)
Thursday, May 21st (Belmont Public Library Trustees Meeting)
Each year the Society hosts a visit to the Claflin Room from the second grade classes at the Wellington School to provide the students with an introduction to the history of their town. You can read about the most recent visit at the end of October 2014.
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. All of our programs are open to the public and most of them are free. The final program of the 2014-2015 season will be held on Wednesday evening, May 20th and will feature Viktoria Haase, the Curator of the Society’s historic collections, who will discuss the 50-year history of the Belmont Historical Society since its rejuvenation in April 1965. Also on the agenda will be the presentation of this year’s David R. Johnson Preservation Award(s) and the latest set of Historic House Plaques.
Information about past programs is available on our Recent Events page. You may watch videos of recent programs courtesy of the Belmont Media Center — the links are on the Recent Events page.
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. Click here to learn more about this important piece of Belmont history and the CPA process. 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 proceed. The Belmont Historical Society would like to express its thankful appreciation to the Town of Belmont, its officials, and the residents of our town for approving and supporting our Community Preservation Act funding request to restore and rehabilitate the roof of our Wellington Hill Station.
Historic Thomas Clark House The nearly three-year effort to preserve the historic Thomas Clark house on Common Street in Belmont came to an unfortunate end on August 21, 2014 when the structure was demolished. The house, which had been built in 1760 and occupied continuously until recent years, was purchased by a developer who planned to raze it and build two new homes on the land. A campaign to save the house was launched in 2011, and on February 18, 2012 the house was moved from its original site to a temporary location on town-owned land on Concord Avenue near Belmont High School. All subsequent efforts to find a permanent location for the house and an organization to restore it and maintain it failed. Consequently, the building had to be demolished after some historic items were removed. You can watch a six-minute video of the demolition process courtesy of the Belmont Media Center.
New Book About Belmont We are pleased to announce that the new updated edition of The Streets of Belmont and How They Were Named has been published 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.
In Memoriam The Belmont Historical Society lost a dear friend and a long-time member of our Board of Directors when Anne Claflin Allen died on February 20, 2015, a few days short of her 87th birthday. Anne made many contributions to our organization over the years, and she was always active in our events and a regular attendee of our meetings. Her family’s contributions to historic preservation have been enormous. It is because of her family that we have the Claflin Room at the Belmont Public Library as our home today, and we will be forever grateful to her and to them. In addition to her role in our organization, Anne served as a town meeting member for many years, was involved with several other organizations in Belmont, and in all of these roles greatly contributed to our community as a whole. Anne was a kind and wonderful person. She will be greatly missed.
Become a Member We always welcome new members and invite them to take an active role in the Society’s activities. To learn more and to download an application form, click on Membership.
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.