Benton Library Closed Indefinitely After Chimney Collapse

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.”

Banking on Children’s Book For the Benton Library at Belmont Savings

Photo: Benton Library.

Belmont Savings Bank has announced it is holding a Children’s Book Drive to benefit Benton Library. Residents can bring in any old or unused children’s books to the bank’s main Belmont branch before Oct. 31, and the books will be donated to the Benton Library.

Residents can bring in any old or unused children’s books to the bank’s main Belmont branch before Oct. 31, and the books will be donated to the Benton Library.

The Benton Library, at the corner of Oakley and Old Middlesex is a nonprofit, independent community library in Belmont run by volunteers and supported entirely by staff donations. The historic site was designed in 1892 as a chapel for the Belmont School For Boys, and was eventually purchased by Everett C. Benton in 1903 who made the chapel available for Belmont public meetings. After his death, his family offered the chapel to the town to use as a library. 

Belmont Savings Bank is located at 2 Leonard St. in Belmont Center. It will be accepting book donations during normal hours of operation.


This Weekend: Benton Open House Saturday, A-B Chamber Chorus on Sunday

• The Benton Library, Belmont’s independent library located at Oakley and Old Middlesex, is holding it’s annual Open House on Saturday, Dec. 6, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Join the board of directors and volunteer staff to celebrate the season. Everyone in the community is welcomed to attend and anyone who hasn’t tried the Benton is urged to stop by.

• Students from Belmont’s Powers Music School are performing  their winter recitals with a holiday theme as they tour the area. They will be performing at the Watertown Mall, 550 Arsenal St. in Watertown on Saturday, Dec. 6 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Come early as the group will be a special holiday music story at 2 p.m. On Sunday, Dec. 7 at 1:30 p.m., the group heads to the Mall at Chestnut Hill in Newton.

• The Belmont Hill School’s Winter Concert will take place in Hamilton Chapel on Sunday, Dec. 7 at 2 p.m. Performing will be the school’s orchestra, jazz band, piano trio and the Belmont Hill B-Flats, the senior choral group, as well as the 9th grade’s A-Sharps. The concert is open to the public. 

• The Arlington-Belmont Chamber Chorus under conductor Barry Singer presents NOT-QUITE-WINTER CONCERT on Sunday, Dec. 7, beginning at 3 p.m. at Payson Park Church, 365 Belmont St. The concert will consist of six masses each from a different century and songs of poets over five hundred years. Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for seniors and $7 for 17 years old and younger.

Benton Library Open ‘Late’ Tonight Friday

The Benton Library, Belmont’s independent library, will be open from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. today, Friday, Oct. 3, as part of the library’s long standing program of staying open “late” on the first Friday evening of every month.

Make the Benton a stop on your way home or after dinner. See the latest New York Times Best sellers. Browse the collection and use the library’s wifi connection. Buy some of the reasonably priced sale books with all proceeds going to the Benton.

What to Do Today: Making Rubber Band Bracelets, Beech Street Talent Show

• Here’s a rainy day event: Einstein’s Workshop program for Young Adults (for kids 10 and older) will be making “Rubber Band Jewelry: The Rainbow Code” in the Assembly Room of the Belmont Public Library beginning at 7 p.m. Discover how to make rubber band bracelets without a loom, learn a few tricks to encode hidden messages in the bracelet and even begin to write your own. Registration is required so call 617-993-2870.

• The Benton Library at Oakley and Old Middlesex will have pre-school summer story time at 10:30 a.m.  For children 3 to 5. Parents or caregivers must be present. Siblings may attend with adults.

• The Beech Street Center is holding its second annual Talent Show at 1:15 p.m. It was a great event last year so come by and enjoy singing, dancing, reading poetry and a lot more.

• The Belmont Public Library will be holding “Noon Movies for Children” at noon in the Assembly Room of the Belmont Public Library. The movies this week are:

  •    Bebe Goes Shopping
  •    Bebe Goes to the Beach
  •    All the Colors of the Earth
  •    The Foolish Frog
  •    Over in the Meadow
  •    Chicka Chicka Boom, Boom
  •    Roxaboxen

What to Do Today: Library’s Patriotic Story Time, the Benton is Open ’til 7 PM

• Story Time at the Belmont Public Library will have a 4th of July theme: “Red, White and Blue Storytime.” Celebrate America’s birthday with stories and a craft inspired by the colors of our flag in the Assembly Room from 10:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.

• Speaking of libraries, the Benton Library, the town’s independent volunteer-run library, will be open from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. Come by to use the WiFi or just to get out of the heat.

• Town offices will be open until 4 p.m. today.

• If you haven’t heard, the Boston Pops 4th of July concert and fireworks show has been moved to today, July 3, to avoid any impact from Tropical Storm Arthur.

Things to Do Today: Story Time at the Benton, Town Offices Closing at 1 PM

• The Benton Library, Belmont’s independent and volunteer run library at the corner of Old Middlesex and Oakley, will be holding Summer Pre-School Story Time at 10:30 a.m. with stories and crafts for children 3 to 5. Younger siblings may attend with adults. Parents or caregivers must be present. Registration is not required. Pre-School Story Time meets at 10:30 a.m. every Tuesday and Friday throughout the summer.

• The Belmont Public Library is closed from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for a staff development day. It will reopen at 1 p.m. until closing at 5 p.m.

• Belmont town offices will be closing Fridays during the summer at 1 p.m. Just about the same time most residents are on the road to their favorite summer haunts. They will be back on schedule in September.

• On this day in 1859, American composer, organist and pianist Mildred Hill is born. With lyrics by her younger sister, Patty Smith Hill, the pair wrote the most popular song in world history: Happy Birthday to You.

Things to Do Today: Poet Burt at the Beech Street Center, Benton Storytime, Bates Touches New England

• Belmont poet Stephen Burt, who literary critic Frank Bidart called “one of the most gifted poets of his generation,” will read from “Belmont: Poems” his highly-recognized collection inspired by his hometown from 1:15 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. at the Beech Street Center, 266 Beech St. “Belmont: Poems,” received an NPR Best Book of 2013 and Publishers Weekly’s Top 10 Poetry Book of Spring 2013. His work was on the New York Times Book Review short list of best writing. Burt is a literary critic, poet, a professor of English at Harvard and a Burbank parent.
• Pre-School Storytime will be held at the Benton Library, Belmont’s independent and volunteer run library, at 10:30 a.m. Stories and crafts for children age 3 to 5. Parents or caregivers must attend. Siblings may attend with adults. Registration is not required. The Benton Library is located at the intersection of Oakley and Old Middlesex.
Davis Bates who will be “Celebrating New England: Songs & Stories for Everyone” at 4 p.m. at the Beech Street Center. Bates, a noted chronicler who was called by the late Pete Seeger “… a fantastic storyteller” and a winner of a Parents’ Choice Award, will sing songs from the past and present, as well as tell ghost, Native American and farming stories. There will also be sing-alongs, and a lesson on how to play the spoons. Special appearance by a wooden dog named Bingo. This program is supported in part by a grant from the Belmont Cultural Council, a local agency, which is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.
• The Belmont School Committee will present and vote on the district’s fiscal year 2015 budget at 7:30 p.m. in the small community room at the Chenery Middle School.
Belmont High’s Girls’ Outdoor Track team will take on Winchester High at 3:30 p.m. on Harris Field.

Things to Do Today: Apollo at the Beech, Toddlers in the Libraries, Track on the Track

• The Apollo Club men’s chorus returns to the Beech Street Center for its annual concert at 7:30 p.m. The free concert is open to everyone in the community so everyone can enjoy this popular choral concert by the second oldest continuously performing men’s chorus in the United States. Founded in 1871, the Apollo Club performs all over the country with a repertoire that includes folk songs, love songs, sea chanteys, show tunes, classical and semi-classical compositions. Their director, Florence A. “Flossie” Dunn has been with the chorus for over 50 years.

• Spring break is over and the School Committee is back, holding its scheduled public meeting at 7:30 p.m. at the Chenery Middle School.

Two for the toddler set:

  • Pre-School Storytime will be held at the Benton Library, Belmont’s independent and volunteer run library, at 10:30 a.m. Seasonal stories and crafts for children age 3 to 5. Parents or caregivers must attend. Siblings may attend with adults. Registration is not required. The Benton Library is located at the intersection of Oakley and Old Middlesex.
  • The Belmont Public Library’s Children’s Room is holding Storytime for 2’s and 3’s.  Due to overwhelming popularity, this storytime is offered both at 9:30 and 10:30 a.m. Bring your little ones for stories, songs, and more. Both programs will take place in the Flett Room, across from the Children’s Room. 

• Belmont High School’s Boys’ Track and Field will host Woburn High at Harris Field with the first events getting underway at 3:30 p.m.

• The musical “Hair” opens on this day in 1968 at the Biltmore Theatre on Broadway. What was seen as the height of the hippy counterculture and the emerging sexual revolution entering mainstream entertainment, the musical today is seen as quaint in its depiction of the 60s.