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Belmont Library celebrates 90th anniversary with dance party for local youngsters

Boys and girls helped the Belmont Public Library celebrate its 90th birthday last Saturday with balloons, pizza and some fun dance music. (Photo by Donna Rhodes) (click for larger version)
August 08, 2018
BELMONT – Belmont Public Library turned 90 years old in 2018, and the birthday celebration continued last Saturday with a Dance Party and pizza in the children's library.

According to research done by the late Wallace Rhodes and printed in his 1969 publication, "Reminiscences of a New Hampshire Town," Belmont's original library was established in 1893. It was located on the second floor above Stevens Store in the building known as the Johnson Block.

As more books and periodicals were purchased or donated, the library outgrew that space in just the very first year of its existence. It was then moved to the second floor of the New Hose House, which was home to the fire department and also housed the selectmen's office on the second floor.

By 1919, Rhodes wrote that the library's annual reports began to show signs that the New Hose House location was also becoming insufficient for the size of their ever-growing collection.

A few years later, in stepped George and Walter Duffy, owners of the Belmont Hosiery Mill. In 1927 the New Hose House was moved to Fuller St. and became the home of the Charles Kilborn American Legion Post, providing the room for the Duffys to have a new brick library built in its place.

Newspaper excerpts Rhodes found from Feb. 4, 1928 were quoted as saying, "The new library given the Town of Belmont by the late George E. Duffy of Worcester, Mass. and his brother, Walter F. Duffy of Franklin, was dedicated today. Exercises were held in the Community Hall, which was filled to capacity. John M. Sargent presided."

During the ceremony, Walter Duffy presented the town with approximately $25,000 to pay for the cost of building the library, plus what was only described in the news article as "a sum" for a trust fund that would provide an annual income of $500 towards its maintenance. In addition to the money, Duffy also presented the new library with 5,000 volumes for its collection.

As part of the dedication, the school children of Belmont sang for the large crowd on hand that day.

On the main floor of the building there was both a children's room and an adults room, while the basement, now the site of the children's library, was used as an assembly room that could seat up to 100 people. Overseeing the new library in 1928 was Etta Belle Dearborn, who served as the town's librarian for 20 years.

"It is the finest gift ever made to Belmont. In the interior of the Library is a bronze tablet inscribed in recognition of prominent citizens of the community in past generations," the article concluded.

That tablet still graces the library wall 90 years later.

And just like the boys and girls from Belmont who took part in the library's dedication in 1928, children from 2018 celebrated all the programs, crafts, and of course, the books they, too, enjoy at Belmont Public Library. Last weekend the children's room was decorated with crepe paper and balloons. There were also some noisemakers, lively music, pizza and ice cream to help with the celebration.

"This year we've had a successful summer reading program and we've received a lot of help and support from the community, like Brookside Pizza, Belmont Village Store and Shaw's who all pitched in for today's Dance Party. We're looking forward to another 90 years here at Belmont Library," said librarian Sarah Frost.

Penny Pitou
Martin Lord Osman
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