Belmont's Historic Library Marks 85th Year

BELMONT — Officials from the New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources (DHR) recently visited Belmont Village and the treasured Main Street public library, with congratulations on its 85th year. Welcomed by Librarian Becky Albert, the special guests included Peter Michaud and Mary Kate Ryan. Ms. Albert previewed a foundry replica of a plaque noting the Library's listing on the National Register of Historic Places, funded by the Belmont Heritage Commission.
Michaud, who is the National Register, Preservation Tax Incentives and Easements Coordinator, said the library was "an impressive space with truly special architectural details in its paneling and fireplaces, open with its lofty ceiling, yet still intimate." Along with Ms. Ryan, State Survey Coordinator for the DHR, they also viewed the Bandstand and its restoration progress.
The 85th year milestone will be marked throughout the year, according to Library Trustee Chairman Mary Louise Charnley. "Besides our history we look forward to developing the best strategy for future decades," she said.
Belmont has several buildings and structures, including the 1908 Bandstand, have been determined eligible by the State Historic Preservation Officer for the National Register of Historic Places. Only the "new" Library is currently listed, and received that status in 1985 for architectural and engineering distinction. The Bandstand was first moved in 1927 to make room for its construction, and has long been a venue for seasonal Library activities and programs.
The Belmont public library tradition dates to the early 1890s and exceptional generosity of Moses and John Sargent and George and Walter Duffy, among other community leaders and mill owner-executives. According to Wallace Rhodes, author of "Reminiscences of a New Hampshire Town" the Belmont Centennial history, mill owners and executives played central roles in establishing, funding and overseeing in three different Village locations. The Library collection started with a donation of $400 worth of books from Amory Lawrence, supplemented by $100. from the State of New Hampshire and published its first annual report in 1894. Earliest locations were all in the Village including the Johnson Block and New Hose House, storing firefighting apparatus of the era.
Besides Ms. Charnley, current Library Trustees include Marilyn Fowler and Diana Johnson.