The Belmont Uplands: A History
of the Changing Use of Land and Water
October 26, 2014

Little Pond on Belmont Uplands

On Sunday, October 26th, the Belmont Historical Society will present an illustrated lecture by Anne-Marie Lambert on “The Belmont Uplands: A History of the Changing Use of Land and Water”. The transition of the Belmont Uplands from marshland to farmland to forest tells a local story of the changing boundaries between nature and man, and between land and water. The history of these 15 acres will be examined through its current surroundings: a glacial kettle pond; a large channel dug in 1909 to drain the Great Swamp; a state reservation claimed by eminent domain when Frederick Law Olmsted’s firm was promoting landscaped public parks; a highway widened in 1967 as a Cold War evacuation route; and a modern office park. The history of the Uplands includes Native American fish weirs for alewife, railroad spurs for the ice houses, the award-winning Heustis Farm, numerous pollution challenges, a homeless population, and, most recently, a remarkable collection of native wildlife. As demands for both human and wildlife habitat rise, and as climate change threatens, the story is not over.

Anne-Marie Lambert is on the board of the Belmont Citizens Forum and is co-founder of the Belmont Stormwater Working Group. She leads “Little River Nature History Walks” on the Alewife Reservation bordering the Belmont Uplands and has written many articles about the property for the Belmont Citizens Forum newsletter.  Ms. Lambert is a recipient of the Belmont Historical Society’s 2014 David R. Johnson Preservation Award for her ongoing work in educating the Belmont community and promoting planning and policies for preservation and environmental quality. She is a Belmont Town Meeting Member and has been a resident of Belmont for 20 years.

  • Sunday, October 26th, 2014 at 2:30 pm
  • Assembly Room of the Belmont Public Library, 336 Concord Avenue
  • Free and open to the public.  Refreshments will be served
  • Contact the Belmont Historical Society for more information at 617-993-2878

 Extra Event

For those of you who might be interested in actually seeing the area around Little River that Ms. Lambert will be lecturing about at our program on October 26th, she is conducting a “Little River Nature Walk” tour of the area on the previous Sunday, October 19th, from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. Those taking the walk can park at 15 Acorn Park Drive (Cambridge). The walk, which is free and open to the public, is about two miles in length. Comfortable walking shoes are recommended, and a walking stick may be helpful.

Little River History Nature Walk

Join a beautiful Fall nature walk along Little River in Cambridge and Belmont, and learn about geologic history, Native American history, and farming history. Understand various pollution and transportation challenges since the late 18th century, and learn how society has handled them. Examine the changing hydrology of this region, both natural and man-made, as we try to adapt to the reality of climate change in the Northeast. Travel along the river, meadow, and forest habitat which is home to wildlife such as red fox, coyote, river otter, mink, cottontail rabbit, voles, snapper turtles, and over 40 residential birds such as hawks, wild turkey, blue heron, catbirds, hummingbirds, and goldfinches.

  • When: 2:00-4:00 pm, Sunday October 19, 2014
  • Where: 15 Acorn Park Drive (GPS location of public parking lot)
  • Leader: Anne-Marie Lambert, Belmont Citizens Forum

Future Events

  • Wednesday, November 12, 2014, 7:30 – 9:00 pm: Anthony Amore, Director of Security at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum for the past five years and expert on homeland security, will speak about the notorious theft of priceless masterpieces from that museum.
  • Sunday, December 14, 2014, 2:00 – 4:00 pm: A surprise musical program for the holiday season.
  • January, 2015: No program.
  • Wednesday, February 25, 2015, 7:30 – 9:00 pm: Terry Alan Bragg, Historian at McLean Hospital, will speak about the history of this world-famous hospital located in Belmont.
  • Wednesday, March 18, 2015, 7:30 – 9:00 pm: Dan Leclerc, retired history teacher, former Belmont Selectman, and former Vice-President of the Belmont Historical Society, will speak about Belmont and World War I.
  • Wednesday, April 15, 2015, 7:30 – 9:00 pm: Gerry Wright will present his one-man play honoring the life and work of Frederick Law Olmsted, the father of landscape architecture who designed the grounds of McLean Hospital and Boston’s “Emerald Necklace” among many other famous parks.
  • Wednesday, May 20, 2015, 7:00 – 9:00 pm: Viktoria Haase, Belmont Historical Society Curator, will present a special program commemorating the 50th anniversary of the rejuvenation of the Society.

Check this page for more information about each of these programs as the dates approach.