The first meeting of a small group of women was held at the home of Mrs. Truman and they elected Mrs. Adelaide Bissell as President, Mrs. Charles Gordan, vice-president, and Mrs. Truman secretary and tresurer. A week later on October 10, 1885, the constitution and by-laws of The Belmont Literary and Historical Society were read and adopted and at this meeting their famous by-law declaring that “this society be founded for the intellectual improvemant of the members and to found a Free Public Library” was adopted.
In November 1885, the library was first started with forty volumes, Miss Adele Noble being the first librarian. As membership and funds increased, the question of incorprating the society was talked over and acted upon and the certificate of incorporation was presented to the society by its president on April 10, 1885. Meetings were held in various places proceeding from the fire hall to the Y.M.C.A. to the jury room in the courthouse and finally to the general assembly room over Mr. J. Bradt’s store.
By 1892, when the funds had grown to $800.00, the ladies decided to have a building of their own. At this time, Mrs. Hamilton Ward, then president of the society, presented a valuable and convenient site for the building. Notice was placed in the village paper, “The Belmont Dispatch”, giving a short history of the society’s seven years works and their intentions to establish a free reading room in connection with the library. The public responded readily and on September 18, 1893 the corner-stone was laid.
In may 1904, when the buidling was finally completed, it was named Ward Hall in honor of Mrs Hamilton Ward. (It is common knowledge in Belmont that Mrs. Ward obtained $1,000 in Carnegie Funds to finance the building.) In 1909 the clock tower was added -a gift to the Village of Belmont from Judge and Mrs. Ward who were by this time living in Buffalo. Incidentally, one of the long-suffering husbands of these early crusades was heard to remark that for every brick that was laid in that building, the men in town had eaten a cold supper.