Photo: The Benton Library after the collapse of its chimney
The Benton Library, the independent community library at the corner of at the corner of Oakley and Old Middlesex Roads, will be closed indefinitely after the building’s chimney suddenly gave way Thursday afternoon, Feb. 10.
“Sadly, this past Thursday, on a beautiful, very calm morning, the Benton Library chimney collapsed,” Elizabeth Gibson, president of the Friends of Benton Library, wrote in an email to patrons. The 130-year-old building originally constructed as a chapel for a private boys’ school became a branch of the Belmont Public Library in 1930 and an independent library in 2011. An extensive history of the building can be found here.
Belmont Police and Fire responded followed by David Blazon, the town’s facilities manager and Kevin Pickering, Belmont Building Inspector, “who have been incredibly helpful.”
Soon after, businessman Frank French and Jim Kelly from Cambridge Landscaping assisted in removing debris and securing the building while Sean Green from Storm Works Roofing patched the roof.
“We don’t know what we would have done without them,” said Gibson.
The previous week, the Friend’s sent emails welcoming people to come back to the Library. “We were very gratified by the overwhelmingly positive response,” she said.
Since the furnace vents into the chimney, the building’s heating and water systems have been shut down, reported Gibson.
“We are talking to contractors about how to move forward. The Benton Library will need to stay temporarily closed a little longer. We’re not sure how long. At least a few weeks; probably longer,” she wrote. “There’s a lot to figure out about rebuilding the chimney, but we’ll get there.”