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.
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.
The Claflin Room The Belmont Historical Society’s collections are housed in the Claflin Room of the Belmont Public Library. 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.
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 Thursday evening, April 16, 2015, when it is reserved for Belmont Public Library management needs.
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 next program will be held on Wednesday evening, April 15th and will feature Gerry Wright who will present his one-man play honoring the life and work Frederick Law Olmsted, the father of landscape architecture who designed the grounds of Belmont’s McLean Hospital and Boston’s “Emerald Necklace” among many other famous parks. More information about this and other future programs is available on our Coming Events page.
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. In January 2015 the Community Preservation Committee provisionally voted to recommend this project for funding at the Spring 2015 Belmont Town Meeting. Click here to learn more about this important piece of Belmont history and the CPA process.
Historic Preservation Award Each year the Society presents an award to one or more individuals or organizations that have made a notable contribution to preserving structures or land in the town. The nomination process for the 2015 awards is now open — click here for details about the award program, a list of previous winners, and the application form for 2015 awards.
Historic House Plaques In 2014 the Belmont Historical Society established a Historic House Plaque Program to encourage property owners to share the unique architectural features of their property with the community. Once awarded, these historic plaques proudly display the name of the original owner and construction date of the building that is being recognized. Applications are now being accepted for the next set of plaques to be distributed in May 2015. Read more about this program, see a list of properties that have already obtained plaques, and download an application form.
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. Click on Publications to learn more and to download an order form to get your own copy.
Historic Happenings We added a new section to this website to feature articles about various aspects of the history of the town of Belmont. These “Historic Happenings” articles have been prepared by the Belmont Historical Society Curator using source material from our collections in the Claflin Room. Check out the first two articles which cover Belmont’s involvement in the Civil War and the 100th anniversary of the Payson Park Church.
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.