Welcome Back! Take a Fresh Look at the
Belmont Historical Society
In September the Belmont Historical Society begins its new season of programs and lectures that will highlight the unique history of this community and its residents. In addition to these monthly events, which are free and open to the public, members of the Society staff the Claflin Room in the Belmont Memorial Library where they maintain their archival collection of all things related to Belmont. The room is open to the public four days a week when volunteers are on hand to answer questions and to share their knowledge of the town from its agricultural beginnings to today’s modern suburb. During a visit there you can enjoy displays of interesting artifacts, browse through Belmont High School Yearbooks, purchase a variety of Belmont-themed products, check out recent donations, or do your own independent research! The Society also provides an annual High School Scholarship, recognizes the preservation of historic buildings and open spaces, and actively encourages residents to apply to obtain a Historic House Plaque for qualifying homes. For more information on how you can become involved, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
New Belmont Pillow The Belmont Historical Society is now offering for sale a decorative pillow with the Belmont town seal. This pillow measures 18 inches by 18 inches and would fit nicely on a sofa or a chair. The figure on the town seal is Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit trees, gardens, and orchards — a very appropriate symbol for Belmont which was a farming and market garden community throughout much of its history. The town officially adopted this seal in 1882. Viktoria Haase, the Curator of the Belmont Historical Society, will be at the Beech Street Center Craft Fair on Saturday, November 18, 2017 with this pillow available for purchase at $24. The Craft Fair, which runs from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm, is an annual event sponsored by the Friends Of The Belmont Council on Aging. Viktoria will also have for sale other merchandise items from the Society such as books about the town including the recent update of The Streets of Belmont and How They Were Named. This is a chance to do some early holiday shopping. The Beech Street Center is located at 266 Beech Street in Belmont; for a map and directions, click here. If you are unable to come to the Craft Fair and are interested in the pillow or a Belmont book, email us at BelmontHistory1859@nullgmail.com or call us at 617-993-2868.
Elementary School Visit Each year second graders from the Roger Wellington School make their annual fall visit to the Claflin Room in the Belmont Memorial Library. That space serves as the headquarters of the Belmont Historical Society and is staffed by volunteers from the organization who are on hand to share the unique history of the town with the eager students, dedicated teachers, and parent chaperones. The field trip is coordinated to coincide with the unit the students are taught about early Belmont, and according to the teachers the students look forward to the visit to the Claflin Room as a chance to step outside the classroom and connect with local history firsthand. During the visit the group is treated to a fast-paced and fact-filled presentation that answers questions such as how did the town get its name? what is the oldest business? and who are some of the founding families? During the 45 minutes the children are encouraged to participate and are given time to view some of the interesting items from the Historical Society’s archival collection. This year’s visit took place on November 2nd. Click here to see some of the items that the students last year found particularly interesting, and click here to read some of the reports that they sent back after their visit. You may also click here to see an expanded description of the topics and items covered during these student visits in previous years.
Newsletter The latest issue of our quarterly newsletter (September 2017) has been mailed to all members of the Society. This newsletter is devoted to the history of the Underwood family, a prominent Belmont family since 1817. Quoting from the opening paragraphs of the newsletter, “Earlier this summer, Helen Cushing Underwood (Baker) passed away at her home in Belmont on July 2, 2017. . . . Helen was the great-great-grandaughter of William (1787-1864), the founder of the Underwood family in America, arriving here in 1817. Formerly from Great Ealing in Middlesex, England, Underwood came to this country with the dream of establishing a business to pickle and preserve food. After initially landing at a port in New Orleans, he set out in search of a suitable location. By 1821 William Underwood had founded his company in Boston and was already shipping goods to South America.” The newsletter continues on, tracing the history of the Underwoods in Belmont up to the present day. 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 sidebar). 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.
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. The major task of replacing the badly deteriorating roof has now 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.
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. The most recent Historic House Plaque was awarded at our annual meeting on May 17th, 2017; the next awards will be made at our annual holiday program in December 2017. Click here for further information about the program, resources for tracing the history of your property, and the application form for a plaque.
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.