Belmont Historical Society

We’ve Move! (for now)

During the replacement of the library, we are in temporary space as of Sept 2023, upstairs in the Beech Street Center. Our hours are Tue 4-6pm; Wed 1-3pm; Fri 10am-noon. Our resources are limited here, but we are happy to see you. You can always email us at

Also, note our new mailing address — PO Box 15, Belmont, MA 02478.


  • First-Person Belmont: 1859-1912 / Harriet Hill (1843-1938) & AC Hill (1861-1964), by Samuel & Jacquelyn James, Tues Apr 9 1:15-3pm at the Beech Street Center.
    Harriet and AC were active participants in the life of early Belmont. Harriet was a Belmont English teacher who authored essays about Belmont’s celebrations – Becoming  a Town on March 18, 1859, The Strawberry Festival, and Life on a Belmont Farm. AC, a gifted photographer, left more than 800 glass plate negatives of Belmont at the turn of the 20th Century. The James’ will open a time capsule and weave Harriet’s essays and AC’s photos so we can learn more about some significant celebrations in Belmont’s history through their eyes.

Recent happenings

  • Test your knowledge of Local Landmarks, Tues Feb 27 1:15-3pm at the Beech Street Center. We’ll include a series of mystery photos for the audience to help identify. Have you paid attention to the details of buildings around town?
  • Commemorate The 250th Anniversary of the Boston Tea Party, Tues Dec 19, 1-3pm at the Beech Street Center. Catch our flyer.  We’ll have a presentation, fun facts, and “Liberty Tea”. Reserve your spot – register at (This will help us know headcount, for seating and refreshments.)


We’re working on getting our archives of newsletters online

Now online, from the Waltham & Belmont Historical Societies…

History of Beaver Brook Reservation

The Beaver Brook Reservation is a 59-acre public park under the care and control of the Mass Dept of Conservation and Recreation. The reservation spans the border of Belmont and Waltham, and is divided into north and south sides by Trapelo Road. The public’s appreciation of the beauty and natural aspects of the park sparked a movement to save the land from encroaching development and for public enjoyment. The history of this area spans thousands of years from the pre-contact settlements of indigenous people, to colonial water-powered industries, and to the landmark preservation initiative of the late 19th century. Marie Daly of Waltham Historical Society presents a lecture that will describe the natural features of the park, outline the history of its land use, as well as review the ground-breaking efforts to save its beloved features.

View this lecture, from vimeo (Apr 22, 2021)

A recent program, March 24, was remote only, hosted by the Belmont Media Center:

The Life of Judge John J Burns (1901-1957)

Dr Christian Dupont traced the rise of John J. Burns from his humble beginning as the son of Irish immigrants to his graduation from Boston College, class of 1921, and study of Law at Harvard, where he became a Professor of Law at the age of 29. His accomplishments led him to be appointed the youngest Massachusetts Superior Court justice and first counsel for the Securities and Exchange Commission under FDR. The Burns Library at Boston College is named in his honor where Dr. Dupont is the associate university librarian for special collections.

View this talk, from the Belmont Media Center.

Experiencing History Now

Several members of the Belmont Historical Society suggested that we join other organizations to reach out to those in our local community to ask them to document current events. A record of how the corona virus affects everyday life in relation to our families, homes, and lifestyles will be an invaluable first-hand account for future generations. Similar efforts in other towns have included encouraging collecting photographs, home videos, short written accounts, and other creative ways to capture our new circumstances.

Send your submissions to us by email, belmonthistory1859@gmail.comor US Mail, Belmont Historical Society, PO Box 125, Belmont, MA 02478

From September through May of each year the Society offers a season of programs and lectures that highlight the unique history of this community and its residents. In addition to 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 additions to the collection, or do your own independent research! The Society also publishes a quarterly newsletter, 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

Programs  Please check our Coming Events page for information about our future programs. In the meantime, you may watch on-demand streaming videos of many of our recent programs 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. Applications may be submitted at any time. Click here for further information about the program, a list of previous recipients, resources for tracing the history of your property, and the application form for a plaque.

Preservation Awards  The Belmont Historical Society presents an award (the Belmont Historical Society David R. Johnson Preservation Award, named after a long-time member and officer of the Society) to individuals or organizations that have made a notable contribution to preserving structures or land in the town. Each year the Society invites community members to nominate projects or individuals for this award. Five awards were made for 2018 at the Society’s annual meeting on May 16th. You may click here to see a list of previous recipients plus information about the range of activities eligible for the award. Nominations for the 2019 awards will be accepted beginning early in 2019.

The March 2018 newsletter covered our home – the history of the Belmont Library

Newsletter  The June 2018 issue of our quarterly newsletter was mailed to all members of the Society.  If you did not receive the latest 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.

The new Belmont pillow is available for purchase

Belmont Pillow  The Belmont Historical Society  offers 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. If you are interested in the pillow or a Belmont book, email us at or call us at 617-993-2868.

The Claflin Room holds the Society’s collection of artifacts and documents linked to Belmont’s history

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.

The new roof has been installed on the historic Wellington Station

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 for this much-needed restoration work to be completed in 2017. In October 2016 the Society’s Board approved additional 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 been completed, and you may see a slideshow of the work in progress. Final restoration and repair of the exterior trim will be completed during 2018.  Click here to learn more about this important piece of Belmont history and the CPA process.


If you have any questions about the Belmont Historical Society, email us at