Belmont Massachusetts, 1890

Belmont is a beautiful suburban town in the southeasterly part of Middlesex County, about six miles northwest of Boston. Lexington adjoins it on the northwest, Arlington on the northeast, Cambridge on the east, Watertown on the south, and Waltham, separated in part by Beaver Brook, on the west. Its area is about 3,000 acres, not including highways. The population, in 1885, was 1,639, with 308 dwelling-houses. Its geological basis consists of sienite, dolorite and the St. John's group. The surface is finely diversified, and is embellished with many ornamental trees in great variety, well-cultivated orchards, farms and gardens. The number of fruit trees will exceed 20,000 ; and the hundred or so acres of natural woodland is reinforced by several groves and many groups, marshalled into relations of exceeding beauty by the landscape-gardener. Along the highways are numerous shade trees, chiefly elm, maple and horse-chestnut, of all ages up to a hundred years. The "Waverly Oaks" are noted objects of admiration from their size and picturesqueness. Wellington Hill, a handsome eminence, commands an extensive view of the environs of Boston, including Fresh Pond, and several smaller ones within its own limits, and Spy Pond just outside its line in Arlington. Fresh Pond is a charming little lake, and largely supplies the city of Cambridge with water. Its overflow still finds its way to the ocean through Alewive Brook and Mystic River.

The situation of the town also renders it a specially attractive one for residence ; and many who transact their daily business in Boston have their homes here. Its post-offices are Belmont and Waverly, the latter being the most of a village. The Fitchburg Railroad, by main line and loop, affords convenient transportation facilities from several stations, Hill's Crossing, Belmont, Waverly, Clematis Brook, Beaver Brook, Mount Auburn and Fresh Pond.

The town has 57 farms and market gardens, with an area of 1,957 acres more or less under cultivation for crops. The largest one of these is the vegetables, whose value, in 1885, was given as $141,314 ; fruits, berries and nuts gave $34,351 ; the dairy, $19,014 ; greenhouse and hothouse products, $9,287 ; and the aggregate reached the sum of $243,156.

Brickmaking is the principal manufacture ; and the total of manufactured goods was $34,450. The valuation, in 1888, was $2,852,835; and the rate of taxation was $12 on $1,000. Belmont Savings Bank had deposits, on January 1, 1889, of $23,354. The cities of Cambridge and Boston are equally convenient to the inhabitants of Belmont, and almost the entire banking business is done in those places.

The town has excellent graded schools, with four school buildings, valued, in 1885, at $10,000. There is also a Select Home School, established in 1865. Beside the Sunday-school libraries there is a town public library containing about 5,000 volumes. The town-hall, of brick and stone, is a fine building. It was erected in 1881, dedicated in June, 1882, and cost $45,000. The Congregational society at Waverly was organized in 1865 ; the other Congregational society is older, dating from 1856. The Unitarian society, organized in 1882, has an excellent stone church edifice. There is also a Roman Catholic congregation here. Belmont furnished 38 men for the late war, ten of whom were lost. In 1885 there were fifteen persons in town over 80 years of age, and one person who had passed 101 years.

Belmont was formed from parts of Waltham, Watertown and West Cambridge, and was incorporated March 18, 1859. In 1862 part of Cambridge was annexed to Belmont, and in 1881 the reverse was accomplished. This town appears to have been named from its own natural features.

pp. 141-142 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890