Wendy Skinner describes how she and others saved the old Belmont Hotel at a recent Monday Club meeting
By Kathryn Ross, Monday Club, Publicist
WELLSVILLE – Wendy Skinner, the woman who turned the old Belmont Hotel into the Fountain Arts Center was front and center for the second meeting of Monday Club.
Skinner, along with Alyssandra and Amanda Robbins presented a program about the restoration of the old hotel building and changing it into the vibrant center for the arts known as the Fountain Arts Center to the members of the Monday Club. With narration and photographs Skinner explained, step by step, how the old hotel building was transformed.
Built in 1890 the hotel building was an anchor for the Schuyler Street business district for many years. However, after its first 100 years, the building that had at one time housed a speak easy, was deteriorating. Skinner, a non-native of Belmont said that the old building attracted her.
“I saw something in my mind’s eye, but I just didn’t know how to get it done,” she said.
Get it done she did with the help of various grants, locals who helped to guide her on her mission and faith. It wasn’t all fun and games, grant applications fell through, part of the building collapsed and completed progress was in jeopardy, she said. Yet the building had good bones to work with and some discoveries were made that made the work viable. After 10 years of work to save, preserve, improve, and resuscitate, the project was completed in 2009.
The name was changed to the Fountain Arts Center to reflect the overflowing fountain of arts and cultural activities destined to take place there. Since the building has reopened, it has provided spaces for all types of art classes, rehearsal space for ensembles, orchestras, and choirs. It has provided a comfortable meeting place. And in its upper stories it provides housing.
Today the Fountain Arts Center is a vibrant oasis for local artists and musicians across the county offering lessons and opportunities for both adults and children.
Organized in 1893 to support the development of a library in Wellsville, the Monday Club is a women’s study group which meets weekly, explores current events, and highlights local activities. In upcoming weeks, it will feature programs concerning mission trips, the local hospital, and tours. The next program, at 2 p.m. Monday in the David A. Howe Library will feature metalsmith Steve Walker of Andover.
Those interested in joining Monday Club should contact any member or call President Joyce Loughlin at 469-0252 for information.