BELMONT — Some 29 years after it was officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Belmont Public Library yesterday had a plaque unveiled on the front of the building which celebrates its historic status.
The plaque was a gift from the Belmont Heritage Commission and was unveiled at a ceremony attended by selectmen, library trustees, Peter Michaud of the New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources, State Senator Andrew Hosmer and townspeople.
Linda Frawley, Heritage Commission chairman, said that the the library was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on September 12, 1985. Research by David Ruell of Ashland in 1984-5 for the Lakes Region Planning Commission, which nominated the structure to the National Register, summarized its distinction as, "significant architecturally, both as one of the best small libraries in the Lakes Region, and as one of the region's best examples of the Colonial Revival style."
Belmont Public Library heritage dates to the 1890s, according to library trustee chairman Mary Charnley at other locations before moving to its current home in 1928.
According to Laconia Democrat news reports of March 1927, town residents voted unanimously to accept the gift of a public building fully equipped and endowed, given by the owners of the Belmont Hosiery Company, George E. Duffy of Worcester, Mass. and Walter E. Duffy of Franklin.
Charnley said," That generous community spirit still exists today, as the Heritage Commission gifted us with a National Register plaque.'' During the ceremony Denis Carignan, who owns a clock and watch repair business, and Pauline Murphy announced that a clock made by Elisha Smith III of Sanbornton which is over 100 years old and has held a place of honor in the library's vestibule since it opened, is being repaired so that it will again be working.
The library was formally dedicated on February 4, 1928 and opened for business the same day. The Journal Transcript of Franklin noted it was " built by Belmont men, supervised by local master builder Eli Perron" and a Tilton mason, and designed by Hanover architects Harry A. Wells & Archer E. Hudson.
That library of nearly 86 years ago, began with 4,000 volumes. Current library director Rebecca Albert, who has served as director of library services at the Tilton School, and as special projects and literacy coordinator for the New Hampshire State Library, today oversees 16,000 volumes, plus collections of audio books, other new media, and programs for all aged residents from the same desk and building made possible by the generous Duffy brothers and other local mill leadership.
"Despite the challenges of serving diverse needs in 2400-square-feet, we provide community resources including computer access, to more than 1500 patrons," says Charnley.
Ruth Mooney, chairman of the Belmont Board of Selectmen, and Mary Charnley, chairman of the Belmont Library Board of Trustees, unveil a National Register of Historic Places plaque during a ceremony at the library Thursday afternoon. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)