Belmont Woman’s Club Free To Manage Its 11 Parking Spaces As It Deems Fit

Photo: The Homer House’s parking spaces.

In a split decision, the Belmont Planning Board voted to allow the Belmont Woman’s Club to manage “on their own” the 10 parking spaces and single handicapped space located at the historic Homer House across from Belmont Town Hall at 661 Pleasant St.

“I believe it’s the Woman’s Club property [and] they should be able to manage that parking spaces as they wish,” said Planning Board Chair Jeffrey Birenbaum. He called the decision a “minor modification” to the former parking lot use plan approved by the Planning Board in July 2021 which restricted the lot’s use “to Women’s Club activities and functions.”

The new language states that parking “to allowed the Belmont Women’s Club to utilize their on-site 10 parking spaces plus one handicapped for them to handle.” If any problems arise with the change in status, the Club would be required to meet with the Building Department and later with the Planning Board.

Daytime parking at the Town Hall lot – which includes the School Administrative building and several town departments in the Homer Building and Town Hall – is currently a tight fit. When the lot is full, visitors and staff are required to use on-street parking – which has time restrictions – or travel to the municipal parking lot on Claflin Street.

And it appears the Woman’s Club spaces may have an interested party to claim the lot. Town Planner Chris Ryan said he had conversations with Town Administrator Patrice Garvin expressing that “it would be fine to have town staff parking there,” albeit a memorandum of understanding would need to be negotiated to identify any possible issues, a stipulation the Club’s President Wendy Murphy said would be “very easily” completed.

“I think one of the concerns that [residents] had was some of the town staff were parking on the sides of the driveway,” said Ara Yogurtian, the Planning Board’s staff member, who advised writing in the decision and MOU that parking can only occur in the designated spaces.

Yet the decision was not unanimous. Planning Board Member Thayer Donham reminded the board that “we had a lot of meetings on this case and … a lot of history to get to the original decision.” Donham believes that a new shared parking use should not be granted unless the club returned to the Planning Board with a new application.

“I just don’t feel comfortable overturning it,” said Donham, who was the sole “no” vote in the 3-1 decision.

But Birenbaum, noting the town bylaws does speak on accessory use of shared parking spaces including a lot used by town departments.

“I don’t think what I’ve read … that we need to come down with a hard hammer and say they need special permits or they can’t use their lot.”

Celebrating A Bunny’s Author’s Birthday At A ‘Re-energized’ Homer House

Photo: Belmont Children’s Librarian Liz Fraser telling a tale of Peter Rabbit.

Liz Fraser stood before more than three dozen tots in the main room of the historic 1853 Homer House with a simple story to tell about a rabbit with floppy ears. 

“Here is a bunny with ears so funny. 

And here is a hole in the ground.

When a noise he hears, he pricks up his ears.

And jumps in the hole in the ground.

The Coordinator of Children’s Services at Belmont Public Library, Fraser was the featured storyteller at the Belmont Woman’s Club inaugural “Literacy on the Lawn” celebrating the 150th birthday of author and artist Beatrix Potter, the creator of Peter Rabbit. 

Despite occurring in late July at the height of vacation plans, the lawn was full of children and parents painting, playing croquet and hanging out with a small collection of farm animals – including a baby goat who kept escaping from the enclosure – as the Belmont Woman’s Club, Belmont Public Library, Habitat and Belmont Center businesses sponsored the day’s events.

For the Woman’s Club, the aim of this event and others is to “draw more families into the history of the house and its beauty,” said Nancy Sarris, the club’s co-president along with Belmont resident Wendy Murphy.


The Club is looking to “re-energize” the organization, attempting to dispel the stereotype of “old ladies drinking tea and playing bridge” which was the case 90 years ago when the club began, said Sarris.

By opening the house to events, outside tours and functions, the club is seeking to highlight the house, a rare example of antibellum residential architecture still standing in greater Boston.

“I fell in love with the house when I first visited it 22 years ago, and I hear the same thing from others,” said Sarris, who was a senior vice president of Belmont Savings Bank. 

The Club has begun a $250,000 capital campaign towards making the house – built by the uncle of artist Winslow Homer who visited and painted in Belmont in the 1860s – more accessable to outside groups, focusing on repairing the driveway and including parking along with exterior architectural improvements including restoring the overhangs. The campaign is in addition to $100,000 in Community Preservation Committee funds approved by Town Meeting in 2015 for the House’s rehabilitation and restoration.

Possible future events could include a Taste of the Town in the fall where restaurants would provide samples, a holiday house tour and educational forums focusing on women and girls. Currently, Susan Smart, the Homer House Curator, is leading private tours of the house through September on Sundays at 1 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m.

“The Woman’s Club and the Homer House want to be re-involved in a big way with the town,” said Sarris.


7 News’ Sports Director Amorosino At Belmont Woman’s Club Wednesday

Photo: Joe Amorosino of 7 News.
Belmont youth and adults are invited to meet Emmy recipient 7 News WHDH-TV’s Sports Director Joe Amorosino, who will speak at the Belmont Woman’s Club/the 1853 Homer House at 661 Pleasant St. on Wednesday, April 13, at 7:30 p.m.

Amorosino covered all four Patriots Super Bowl wins (2002, 2004, 2005, 2014), all three of the Red Sox recent World Series wins (2004, 2007, 2013), the Celtics’ most recent NBA Championship win (2008) and the Boston Bruins most recent Stanley Cup Championship (2011).

The talk and a reception with Amorosino will last one hour.  

Th public is cordially invited with free admission.

This Weekend: Hedy’s in the Homer House Sunday, Movement in Music Saturday

Photo: Actor and writer Judith Kalaora portrays Hedy Lamarr at the Belmont Woman’s Club.

Belmont’s Powers Music School is presenting a Dalcroze Eurhythmics Showcase on Saturday, May 2, from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. at All Saints’ Episcopal Church, at the corner of Clark and Common  streets. Dalcroze Eurhythmics teaches concepts of rhythm, structure, and musical expression using movement, and is the concept for which Dalcroze is best known.

• The Belmont Woman’s Club will present a benefit performance of “Hedy Lamarr — Tinseltown Inventor” at 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 3, in the club’s headquarter’s, the Homer House, at the corner of Pleasant Street and Concord Avenue.

Actor and writer Judith Kalaora portrays the Hollywood legend from the 1930s to the 1950s, bringing to audiences the story of a glamorous film actress whose genius for invention was generations ahead of her time.

Admission of $35 per person includes an actor’s reception following the performance. Proceeds support the maintenance of the Homer House, listed on the State Register of Historic Places and also on the National Register as part of Belmont’s Pleasant Street Historic

To reserve tickets, call 617-484-6494.  Recommended for adults and teens.

Local Celebs Will Walk the Fashion Runway Sunday for the Homer House

If you missed going to New York Fashion Week last month, no need to fret. This Sunday, Oct. 26, Belmont will be home to a unique jour de haute couture.

The Belmont Woman’s Club is holding its own fashion show with some of the most sought after local celebrities modeling the latest from CAbi (women) and UNIQLO at 3 p.m. at the historic Oakley Country Club off Belmont Street in Watertown.

And look who will be strutting the catwalk this Sunday:

  • Selectman’s Andy Rojas (known for his taste in ties),
  • School Committee’s Laurie Slap,
  • Belmont Fire Chief David Frizzell,
  • TV legal analyst Wendy Murphy,
  • Belmont Savings CEO Bob Mahoney,
  • Henry Frost Children’s Program’s Iris Ponte,
  • Town Treasurer Floyd Carman,
  • Belmont Police’s Jamie MacIssac,
  • and all the way from the French Department at Belmont High, Jacqueline Kaiser, to name just a few.

This afternoon of fashion and fun will raise funds for the Preservation of the historic Homer House, the long-time headquarters of the Woman’s Club located across Pleasant Street from Belmont Town Hall.

Tickets are $65 per person and checks can be made payable to the Belmont Woman’s Club.