Community Events in Arlington MA

The shelves at Robbins Library and Fox Branch library hold about 180,000 physical books, and at least 100 books in our collection (and likely many more) were written by local authors who either grew up in Arlington, lived here for a while, or live here now. Some of these works are part of the general circulating collections, but if you want one-stop-shopping, go directly to our Local Author Shelf in the Robbins Library Reading Room– and don’t be surprised to see a neighbor’s name.

Read about these 3 local authors:

Erin Almond

Erin’s novel, Witches’ Dance, explores the charged relationship between a teenage violinist named Hilda Greer and her teacher, Phillip Manns, a former prodigy who believes he is the reincarnation of Niccolo Paganini. When Phillip becomes romantically involved with Hilda’s mother,­ Hilda begins to question her own feelings for her teacher, as well as her belief in him as Paganini. The climax of the novel takes place in Genoa, Italy, as Hilda prepares to compete in the prestigious Premio Paganini, the contest where Phillip’s career – and, perhaps, his madness – began. 

Along with her husband, the author Steve Almond, Erin has been an Arlington resident for seventeen years. Erin and Steve have three kids in the Arlington public schools- one in elementary and two in high school! – and they love their local bookstore The Book Rack. 

Erin Almond’s fiction, essays, and reviews have appeared in The Boston Globe, The Sun, Colorado Review, Literary Mama, Normal School, and on WBUR’s cognoscenti column. Her short story, “The Unbearable Weight of My Heart,” recently won First Prize in Pangyrus Magazine’s Fiction Contest, judged by Jennifer Haigh. She’s a graduate of the UC-Irvine MFA program and Wesleyan University, a long-time member of Boston’s Grub Street, and a recipient of a St. Botolph Foundation Emerging Artists Grant. Witches’ Dance was her first published novel and she’s currently working on her second, a book about the Irish famine, faeries, motherhood, and horses. She can be reached through her website at:


Whitney Scharer

The Age of Light is a novelization of the life of Vogue model turned renowned photographer Lee Miller, and her search to forge a new identity as an artist after a life spent as a muse. Lee’s journey takes her from the cabarets of bohemian Paris to the battlefields of war-torn Europe during WWII, from inventing radical new photography techniques to documenting the liberation of the concentration camps as one of the first female war correspondents. Through it all, Lee must grapple with the question of whether it’s possible to stay true to herself while also fulfilling her artistic ambition — and what she will have to sacrifice to do so.

The Age of Light was a Boston Globe and IndieNext bestseller and named one of the best books of 2019 by Parade, Glamour Magazine, Real Simple, Refinery 29, Booklist and Yahoo. Internationally, The Age of Light won Le prix Rive Gauche à Paris, was a coups de couer selection from the American Library in Paris, and has been published in over a dozen other countries. 

Whitney Scharer holds a BA in English from Wesleyan University and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Washington. Her first novel, The Age of Light,  was a Boston Globe and IndieNext bestseller, People Pick, Amazon Book of the Month selection, Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Pick, and was long-listed for the Massachusetts Book Award. Whitney has been awarded a Massachusetts Cultural Council Fiction Fellowship, Ragdale and VCCA residencies, a St. Botolph Emerging Artists Grant, and a Somerville Arts Council Artists Fellowship. Her short fiction and essays have appeared in numerous publications including Vogue, The Telegraph, and The Tatler. She is a co-founder and serves on the organizing committee for the Arlington Author Salon, a quarterly reading series. She lives with her husband and daughter in Arlington, MA, where she teaches writing workshops and runs literary events as part of a new writing organization she helped to found called Blaze Writers Project (, and is at work on her second novel. To find out more, visit


Yelena Lembersky

Yelena Lembersky is an architect and an author of two books, including a recent memoir, Like a Drop of Ink in a Downpour that she co-wrote with her mother. The book traces Yelena’s childhood in Leningrad, now Saint Petersburg, in the 1970s and ‘80s. Told in the dual points of view, this memoir is a clear-eyed look at the reality of life in the Soviet Union, giving us an insider’s perspective on the roots of contemporary Russia. It is also a coming-of-age story, heartfelt and funny, a testament to the unbreakable bond between mothers and daughters, and the healing power of art.

Yelena Lembersky holds degrees in art and architecture from MIT and the University of Michigan. Her writing has appeared in World Literature Today, The Forward, and Cardinal Points Literary Journal, and she was a guest on National Public Radio and BBC. She lives with her family in the Turkey Hill neighborhood of Arlington, MA.


Arlington Author Salon

The Arlington Author Salon is a free reading series with a twist: each author’s presentation includes something special to tickle the senses. Music, paintings, photographs, tasty treats, fabrics, even smells! Let yourself be transported with an immersive, literary experience. Stay tuned for upcoming fall events!


The Arlington Reservoir, located in Arlington Heights between Mass. Ave. and Summer Street, has long been a destination for local residents and visitors. Over its 150 years of use, the “Res” has evolved from a man-made means for water supply to a welcoming recreational oasis.

The reservoir’s extensive 65 acre area, half of which is in Lexington (although owned by  Arlington), connects the Great Meadow of West Arlington/East Lexington with the Mystic Lakes and Mystic River via the extensive Mill Brook, which flows through the center of Arlington.

In the early 1870s, the growing town of Arlington was in need of a dependable water supply. An earlier effort to tap Spy Pond as a municipal water supply had been short lived. Despite  objections from the town’s prosperous mill owners, the Arlington Reservoir was created by damming the nearby Munroe Brook. By 1896, the Reservoir’s water supply was deemed low quality for drinking and the town joined the Metropolitan District Commission Water Supply (MDCWS), which is  linked to the Quabbin Reservoir. Water from the Arlington Reservoir was used for piping to fire hydrants, nearby greenhouses, and even to Spy Pond in an effort to raise  its water levels.

Since that time, “The Res” has been a popular swimming destination and recreational space offering an area for non-motorized  boating and trails for walking and cycling. In 1935, a beach area was developed, and in the 1970’s filters were added to create cleaner water for swimming.  However, by the 1980’s, the water quality had diminished, and a separate swimming area was  constructed with the addition of chlorination. Over time, concern grew regarding the longevity of the Reservoir’s dam, which is vital in preserving the well-being of the land and the safety of its visitors. In 2002, the deteriorating health of the dam was addressed with steel support sheets at the base. During the renovation, a bridge was built on the southeast side of the reservoir, near Hurd field. In 2006, emphasis was placed on planting new trees  and plants around the beach area, and in 2010 a wildlife habitat garden was planted next to the bridge thanks to an anonymous donation.

In 2020, in consultation with engineering firm Weston & Sampson (which previously worked on the Robbins Farm Park renovations in South Arlington, the North Union Spray Park in East Arlington, and the Reservoir’s prior dam reconstruction project), a lengthy 3-phase renovation kicked off with the replacement of the bath house, as well as with changes to many recreational features.

The 15-year old playground was replaced with a captivating new play area, which includes swings, slides, and various climbing structures. Updates were also made to the snack bar, picnic pavilion, sports courts, water play area, and grass areas. Improvements were also made to the parking lot and boat ramp to offer guests a more enjoyable experience.

The water at the beach is fully chlorinated, with a ramp for people with disabilities, and certified  lifeguards keep swimmers safe at all times. Additional focus was given to the 1.2 mile Reservoir Trail that loops around the water and extends to the Great Meadow Trail, a scenic 1.9 mile loop that is well-known for hiking, cross-country skiing, and wildlife observation.

Completion of the project was celebrated in June 2022 and efforts continue to remove invasive species such as water chestnuts to maintain the habitat garden, and to control erosion. The trail is a great place to walk (leashed) dogs, observe wildlife, or just enjoy a beautiful day. The path also connects conveniently to Hurd Field, which sits beside the Minuteman Bikeway and is in close proximity to Trader Joe’s and Starbucks.

The Res opens for the swimming season on June 17th, and closes on August 25th. Hours are 10am- 7pm. Day passes may be purchased at the gate (cash only) for  anyone over age 1.  Season passes are also available for residents and non-residents. Except for pre and post season maintenance, the park is open to the public approximately September – May in the off season.

This summer, be sure to stop by the Wednesday Afternoon Kids Events and Friday Night Concerts at Reservoir Beach! Grab your lawn chair and your dancing flip flops and come on down to the Res for some FREE fun performances the entire family can enjoy. Arlington Recreation will also be working with Arlington Brewing Company and local food trucks to provide the Friday night concert goers with the option for food and beverages during evening concerts.

The Arlington Center for the Arts (ACA) is a cornerstone for the creative community in Arlington and beyond. Established in 1988, ACA is dedicated to fostering the arts in the local community by providing opportunities for artists, performers, and students to learn, create, and share their work with others.

Recently the ACA hosted a new event: Spotlight ACA! This fundraising event was designed to give their guests and community members an interactive experience and a little taste of all their signature programs, with live music, hands-on activities, delicious food and drinks, and irresistible items to take home.

Every fall, ACA also presents Arlington Open Studios, which is an event showcasing over 60 local artists displaying and selling their work. This signature Arlington event celebrates artists of all media and invites the public to engage with and support this community of talented individuals. This year’s event will be in-person with a range of virtual resources available to visitors. All application info and links will be available on June 1, 2023.

ACA also presents an ongoing schedule of compelling community exhibits and high-quality, curated shows that draw on a wide community of artists from Arlington and beyond. The Shaira Ali Gallery also serves as a rental space for performances, meetings, and parties for members of the Arlington community. They regularly present several opportunities for off-site exhibitions in the community including at WorkBar and Arlington Friends of the Drama.

Coming to a porch near you in June: Arlington’s free, festive, one-day-only music extravaganza is back…and bigger & better than ever!! Porchfest is a grassroots music festival where bands play on front porches across town and people walk, bike or drive around to enjoy tons of free outdoor music, performances, and visual arts exhibits. Visit the Arlington Porchfest website for more information.

Along with their community events like the Spring Gala, Arlington Porchfest, and  Arlington Open Studios, the ACA provides year-round education programs for children, teens, and adults in a variety of media, such as painting, drawing, ceramics, sculpture, photography, and fiber arts, among others. These classes are taught by experienced artists and educators who provide personalized instruction to students of all ages and skill levels.

Their creative opportunities for beginners and professionals alike help students develop skills, discover passions, and build community through the arts. During February, April and Summer vacation, the ACA offers full day camps for kindergarteners through teens. Vacation Arts Programs are fun, dynamic mixes of art, music, and drama and offer CIT and Counselor programs. The ACA also provides private studios and co-working spaces for artists to create and engage with a community of vibrant and diverse makers.

Arlington Center for the Arts is a vibrant hub of artistic activity in the greater Boston area, providing a welcoming and supportive environment for artists and art enthusiasts alike.To learn more about ACA, you can visit their website at You can also become a member, or make a contribution to support their ongoing work.

In the first quarter of the  20th century, Arlington was expanding and prospering. Locals found themselves having more time for leisure activities and enjoying live theater. During this time, Arlington gained two large movie houses as well as a small community theater. More than 100 years later, these theaters continue to be culturally, socially, and economically important to the fabric of the town. In this article, we’ll talk about the history of these places.

The Regent Theatre

During the past 100 years, the Regent Theatre has remained true to its roots as one of the  premiere independent performing arts centers and film houses in the Greater Boston area. The Regent’s current ownership took the reins in 2001 and revived the theatre’s film and live programming. Its first concert was a benefit for victims and families of 9/11. Since then, the Regent has hosted a wide variety of musical artists from many decades. Some examples are Odetta, Steven Tyler, Michelle Shocked, Yo-Yo Ma, The Quarrymen, They Might Be Giants, and many more.

For years, the Regent was the Boston home of the Bellydance Superstars and the venue for such eclectic events as an 85th birthday party in 2005 for TV and film icon Mickey Rooney, as well as the 2012 funeral for Doo-Wop music legend and long-time Arlington resident Herb Reed of Herb Reed & the Platters.

The Regent has also welcomed many comedians such as Paula Poundstone, Steven Wright, and Lenny Clarke, and jazz musicians such as Rebecca Parris, and now Grammy-certified rising star, Samara Joy.

On its big silver screen, the Regent has presented many Boston, US, and world premiered including the Janis Joplin film, “Little Girl Blue” (2015), and “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart: A Film About Wilco” (2002); along with 50th anniversary screenings of “Singin’ in the Rain” (2002) and “The Seven Samurai” (2004).There are also beloved Regent traditions such as showings of “The Sound of Music”, “1776” and “Grease”. This modest-sized, independent venue could be dubbed “The United Nations of theatres” having presented countless cultural, many charitable events compromising countries and communities from every continent on earth, with the exception of Antarctica… maybe.

The Regent has recently completed major sound and lighting upgrades along with improvements to the stage and backstage areas. Having survived two worldwide pandemics, one in each century, and with the support of its patrons, the stage is set for “Arlington’s Show Place of Entertainment” to thrive for generations to come. You can even rent the theatre for special events. More information here.

There are many upcoming shows coming this spring, such as The Great Guitar Night, What the Hell Happened to Blood, Sweat & Tears?, Boston Comedy Blowout, Johnny Peers & The Muttville Comix, and A Little Wonder.


The Capitol Theatre

The Capitol Theatre has a rich history. The building opened its doors in the fall of 1925. The 1920s were a time of great productivity and optimism and the new theatre was a monument to this period. Built by the Locatelli family, builders of other area theatres like the Ball Square Theatre and Central Theatre, both in Somerville, the Capitol’s original auditorium held almost 1600 patrons between the expansive orchestra section and balcony. A mural above the proscenium arch incorporated Arlington’s town seal into its design. Films were accompanied by a powerful orchestral pipe organ, capable of making one hundred and fifty effects, at the time the largest of its kind in New England. The Capitol was one of the largest and most luxurious of the area’s neighborhood theatres. Even though Arlington’s unemployment rate was at 20%, people lined up down the street to see the latest movies. A night out at the movies was a nice pick me up during the depression years of the 1930s.

The Locatelli family sold the theatre in the late 1930s after which it was leased by various local cinema chains. Eventually Arthur Viano of Viano’s Theatres took over for many years. Along with other Viano’s locations like the nearby Regent Theatre, and the Somerville and Broadway theatres in Somerville, the Capitol became well known for its fresh popcorn and friendly atmosphere. The theatre was eventually sold to the Fraiman family, who restored the lobby back to its original glory, and they expanded to a new 5-screen multiplex in 1989.

Arlington movie-goers were now able to choose more films to see, with modern, comfortable seating and stereo sound. Today the Capitol continues its tradition of affording locals a steady mix of movies including family-friendly films, Hollywood blockbusters, and art house delights. Check out this week’s showtimes!

AFD Theatre

The Arlington Friends of the Drama, now known as AFD Theatre, was founded in 1923 and is one of the ten oldest continually operating community theatre groups in the United States.

Incorporated as a not-for-profit corporation in the early 1930s, Arlington Friends of the Drama, Inc. bid $8,200 on the St. John’s Episcopal Church building, which is now the theatre. The theatre now designs and produced a season of four shows annually, usually including a comedy, drama, a “smaller” musical and a major musical Its productions provide a home for some of the most creative directors, designers, and performing artists in New England and regularly garner regional and national awards. AFD Theatre is considered to be among the finest area playhouses for actors, directors, production designers and audiences to produce and enjoy live theatre. You can see Nunsense in May, and keep checking the website for upcoming performances!


The Oldest Continuously Operating Mill Site in the United States. 

When people visit the Old Schwamb Mill in Arlington, MA for the first time, they are often amazed when they step inside- it’s indeed a workplace from another century. The smell of decades of birch, bass wood, and black walnut, the sight of period tools resting on a polished workbench, and the gentle sound of belt-driven lathes immediately transport young and old to America’s industrial age.

Forty-five minute tours of the main building’s first and second floor are available by a museum staff member on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Some highlights: In the original office, you can view an 1898 roll top desk, a “hidden” closet door and a substantial 1905 safe. Visitors can also encounter a rare and remarkable sight: a very intact Civil War-era shop floor that contains multiple generations of tools and machines. Upstairs, you’ll see the glue room, admire examples of finished frames in the frame showroom, and enjoy a temporary art show or historical exhibit in our galleries.

Old Schwamb Mill has a unique history. Charles Schwamb emigrated from Germany in the 1840s, one of six Schwamb brothers who came to America between 1837 and 1857. The brothers brought wood working skills and the ability to adapt and thrive in towns dominated by the descendants of English settlers. After working for years with his brothers, Charles and his brother Frederick bought the mill in 1864 and commenced the manufacture of oval picture frames. The Charles Schwamb business sold picture frames and linear moulding to frame shops and galleries throughout the northeast, including in the cities of Boston and New York. For the next century this Mill, along with two other Schwamb manufacturing concerns, were major sites of commerce and employment in Arlington.

When fourth-generation owner Elmer Schwamb retired in 1969, Patricia Cunningham Fitzmaurice, a visionary local community activist/preservationist, saved the Mill from almost certain destruction. She raised both awareness of its historical value and the funds needed to secure the property. She brought together a group of remarkable, civic-minded citizens to form the Schwamb Mill Preservation Trust. Within six months, she and the Trust had founded the Old Schwamb Mill as an  industrial museum a decade before the Lowell National Historical Park, allowing generations of visitors to experience the small family-run factories that once covered nineteenth and twentieth-century New England.

Today, the Mill’s customers include museums, frame shops, and architectural and interior design firms as well as individuals looking for fine-crafted frames that will display family portraits, photos, artwork, or mirrors. The hand-turned frames are constructed from solid hardwoods such as black walnut, maple, cherry, mahogany and zebrawood.

The Old Schwamb Mill maintains a schedule of events that make visiting the Mill a regular occurrence for its many friends. In its second-floor gallery, the Mill offers various shows throughout the year by local painters, photographers, collagists, and sculptors, plus one show with a focus on the Mill’s own history. Frequent lectures, including an annual Frame Lecture, give visitors another chance to experience the Mill’s beautiful interior.

There is also a summer music series, as well as children’s programs including storytelling, crafts, music and a puppet show. Two signature events include the Mill’s annual outdoor Oktoberfest on the first Saturday in October, as well as a holiday craft fair in November.

The Old Schwamb Mill is located at 17 Mill Lane in Arlington, just off the bike path. Those who are interested can donate, and receive updates to find out about the latest happenings.

If you’re hungry, be sure to head over to The Roasted Granola for a cup of coffee and a treat. Or you can grab a slice of pizza at Andrina’s. You could also stop by for a drink or dinner at The Heights Pub or Jimmy’s Steer House.


Arlington Open Studios returns on Saturday, November 13 in a mostly with lots of new features and visitor favorites.

Over 50 participants will be featured this year at 3 locations in Arlington Center. The Robbins Library will offer a Book & Art Sale as a new addition to the event. Six Studio Artists will open their doors to visitors. Participating artists will present a range of mediums including painting, photography, fiber, ceramics, glass, fine jewelry, mixed media, printmaking, and sculpture.

As a bonus, this year’s event will feature a Porchfest Stage on the steps of Town Hall and poetry readings from the Red Letter Poems Project.

For more info visit:



ART & MUSIC at Mill Pond Park

October 23, 1 – 4 PM

Mill Pond Park at Old Schwamb Mill | 17 Mill Lane | Arlington MA

New England Sculptors Association (NESA) has partnered with the Old Schwamb Mill and the Town of Arlington to present  an outdoor sculpture exhibition at Mill Pond Park.

The Mill will host a reception from 1:00 – 2:30 PM. Come meet the artists and enjoy a concert that will follow from 2:30 – 4:00 PM by FOGGY MOUNTAIN CONSORT, a Renaissance/Blue Grass Band.

The installation of six juried pieces that are available for purchase can be enjoyed through the middle of November. The participating artists’ sculptures on view are:

Mid-Century Modern Heart by Cassie Doyon

Weedy Sea Dragon by Cassie Doyon

My Love by Memy Ish Shalom

Cat by Marin Murakoski

Colliding Worlds by R. Douglass Rice

Dragoon by Dan Rocha


New England Sculptors Association (NESA), est. 1948, supports established and emerging sculptors in achieving their highest potential and in connecting with fellow artists, curators, and collectors. Together with our partners, we promote excellence in sculptural art and seek to inform, educate, and inspire the public throughout New England and beyond.


The Old Schwamb Mill is the oldest continuously operating mill site in the U.S where guided tours are available as well as demonstrations of frame-turning on original 19th-century lathes, still used today to create handmade oval and circular frames. The Mill presents a calendar of events held throughout the year, including gallery and park exhibits, musical performances, lectures and special events.

Also at the Mill…

‘3 Views of a Secret’

Three Views of a Secret

“Three Views of a Secret” is currently on display in the mill’s gallery. It features nature-inspired paintings and sculptures from Arlington artists Gwen Chasan and Dan Cianfarini and Lexington-based Bill Cohn.

The collection showcases Gwen’s tantalizing watercolor and acrylic paintings of birds’ nests, landscapes and botanicals, Dan’s haunting watercolors of New England and international landscapes and structures, and Bill’s other-worldly “industrial-organic” ceramic sculptures. Each artist’s interpretation of the visible world is an affirmation of life, a welcome therapy as we emerge from the global pandemic.

Cianfarini, is an artist who paints exclusively in watercolors, focusing on representational landscapes that often include architectural or other man-made elements to suggest human presence or the passage of time. He is also drawn to certain aspects of the Japanese aesthetic of wabi-sabi, specifically its search for beauty in the natural cycle of growth and decay.

Since beginning to paint about 20 years ago, he has studied painting and drawing with instructors in the greater Boston area, Maine, and Italy and has participated in several solo exhibitions as well as numerous group exhibitions. His most recent work can be seen at

Cohn is a Lexington-based ceramic artist and sculptor. Working in clay, rock, and wood, his unique “Industrial/Organic” themed sculptures have been described as evoking feelings of “being in the New England woods or on a foreign planet all at the same time.” Bill’s work enriches landscapes, gardens, atria and homes. His pieces have been featured in solo, two-person, and juried group shows. Bill has been a studio owner at Artspace in Maynard MA since 2000, and his work can be seen at and on Instagram@cohnbill18.

Chasan is an Arlington artist who creates watercolor and acrylic paintings inspired by the beauty and mystery of the natural world. Her work bridges realism and expressionism as she is drawn to expressing the inner world and emotions evoked by what we see around us. Gwen loves to experiment with new materials and approaches to making marks and images. She has studied drawing and painting with artists in the Boston area, Italy and Greece. Her work has been included in solo and juried exhibitions locally and regionally. She paints in her Arlington studio and teaches workshops in Massachusetts. Her work can be seen at, and on Instagram @gwen_chasan_art.

These works will be for sale after the show which ends on November 6.



The Old Schwamb Mill has announced the return of their Music at the Mill series. Enjoy the sounds of live jazz at the Old Schwamb Mill in Arlington on Thursday, August 12 at 6:30 pm. Described as “electric jazz with an Italian flair”, the music employs world rhythms and Mediterranean melodies with a funk edge. Musicians Sergio Bellotti, Tino D’Agostino, and special guest Maxim Lubarsky will perform. Admission is free, with a $5.00 suggested donation.

The Mill is also featuring a current art show, “Three Views of a Secret,” featuring the work of Gwen Chasen, Bill Cohn, and Dan Cianfarini.

For more information, contact the Old Schwamb Mill at telephone 781-643-0554 or via email at

Music at the Mil | Old Schwamb Mill | Town of Arlington MA

Old Schwamb Mill | Music at the Mil | Things to do in Arlington MA

Things to do in Town of Arlington MA | Visit Arlington


Music at the Mill, Old Schwamb Mill.

Music at the Mill

Short History of Old Schwamb Mill

In 1838, Jacob Schwamb emigrated to Boston from Untenheim, Rhein Hessen, Germany.  Jacob was the first of the Schwamb brothers to emigrate to the United States.  By 1857, six of the seven Schwamb brothers had emigrated from Rhineland Pfalz to the United States.

In their heyday, nine separate mills, each with one or two backup mill ponds, dotted the Mill Brook Valley along Massachusetts Avenue from East Lexington as far as Mystic Street in Arlington. The water of the Mill Brook was used by each mill wheel in turn, and the water was then passed on to the next. After 1872 the mills were forced to gradually convert to steam when the Arlington Heights residential plan was laid out and the town dug a reservoir on Lowell Street, in anticipation of the professional class expected to populate the Heights. The influx was not realized because a prolonged recession cut demand and the Arlington Land Company went bankrupt within two years. Complaints were also lodged that the water was not clean. In 1898, Arlington applied to join the Metropolitan water system and in 1899, its petition was granted. Thus, the Heights were able to escape the fate of having the waters of the Great Meadows flow into their sinks…