135 Years Later, Belmont Town Hall Drawing Finds A Home in Town Hall

Photo: The illustration of Belmont’s Town Hall, circa 1881.

While some people like to spend their vacation sitting by the pool or hiking on far off trails, this July Selectman Adam Dash took some of his time away from work to hit the internet with the goal of seeking out items for sale with a Belmont theme.

“I’m interested in seeing what’s out there,” said the first-term selectman who lives on Goden Street.

Dash said during one of his treks online; he happened to “stumble upon” something that immediately caught his eye: a hand-colored single-page illustration of Belmont’s Town Hall with a detailed floor plan of the building’s first floor as depicted in the Aug. 6, 1881 issue of “American Architect and Building News.”

“Somebody 135 years ago must have felt that this was worth some architectural significance because they put it into a national publication,” said Dash.

The magazine that ran the image began in 1876 before changing its name to “American Architect” in 1909. It ceased publication in 1938 when it was absorbed into the “Architectural Record” which today is one of the leading architectural monthlies in the US.

Not many issues of the “Building News” survive and most of those editions do not have color illustrations “so this is a rare find, probably the only one in existence,” said Dash.

The drawing of the familiar landmark off Concord Avenue shows that the building hasn’t changed much since it was constructed in the early 1880s although its uses have: the Selectmen’s Room was the town’s reading room while the town administrator’s office was the book room. Dash speculates that the counter likely where books were checked out by the public.

A seller from Minnesota had put the drawing up for sale for a price “that wasn’t going to break the bank,” said Dash. 

“I showed it to Phyllis [Marshall, the interim Town Administrator] and said ‘That belongs in the Town Hall.’ So I said ‘I think I’ll get it and donate to the town.'” Which Dash will do at the Board of Selectmen’s meeting on Monday, Aug. 21.

“I figured it would be nice for the public to see,” said Dash.

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