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Revisit Places to Eat …Steak Barn and Topspin on Lowell Road

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Topspin Racquet and Tennis Club C1976

 

Popular at the time was The Steak Barn on Lowell Road was located on a part of the Benton Morgan farm. By 1976 a part of his farm where Ben raised cattle, hens, and vegetables was transformed into a modern restaurant and racquet club. The large plastic bubbles housed the racquet (tennis) club. His old chicken house was modernized and converted into the Steak Ban.

The Steak Barn Restaurant and Topspin Racquet and Tennis Club located on Lowell Road c1976. This photo was taken by the Historical Society while preparing for The Town in Transition. The location of the Steak Barn Restaurant The Monroe Muffler Shop (250 Lowell) and the Tennis Club was located in what is now the parking lot for the Walmart Store at 254 Lowell Road.

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Revitalization of Central Street at P.O. Square

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P.O. Square at Central Street early 1900’s

The revitalization of the business center at the bridge which occurred during the decade of the 1960’s impacted Central Street as well as Ferry and Webster Streets. Demolition of buildings occurred by both private and public enterprises; this week we look at the significant changes along Central Street near Post Office Square.

Our early 1900’s photo of P.O. Square at Central Street shows two landmark buildings which were still present in 1960; the old Baker Block (originally Carnes Block) on the right and the Martin House opposite and on the left at the corner with Ferry Street.

James Carnes came to Hudson about 1840 from his native Vermont. In 1844 he bought the old south meeting house near Blodgett Cemetery for $100. He took it down and proceeded to build a house from the resulting lumber and material in 1845. This house he built on a small triangular lot of land which was conveyed to him by the proprietors of Taylors Falls Bridge. The date 1798 was plainly seen carved upon the stone underpinning of the front of the house indicating the date of the building of the meeting house. This is the same house later owned by Elisha A. and Susan (Steele) Martin. After the death of Elisha his widow Susan and daughter Etta continued to reside here. It was later the home of Etta’s sister Anna Woodbury. Etta sold notions, newspapers, ice cream, etc. Nearby children were delighted by her glass candy case and penny ice cream cones.

At the time of his arrival to Hudson James Carnes wasl a wheelwright and blacksmith by trade. He gave up smithing and turned to the more lucrative business of manufacturing “Paddy” wheelbarrows for the growing railroad business during the pre-civil war days; a business he operated successfully for several years. He then converted to the general wheelwright business which he was operating when he constructed his combined store and assembly hall. He ran his business and rented his hall to various town organizations until his death in 1883. From 1874 to 1876 the newly organize Hudson Grange No 11 held meetings here. In 1879 after the Methodist Church was destroyed by fire the congregation held services in “Carnes Hall” until the new brick church was built in 1890.

After Carnes death in 1883 the store was occupied for short intervals by Francis Marden, Waldo Waldon, and Willard Webster. in 1890 Nathan Webster, a brother to Willard, enlarged and remodeled the building and the Baker brothers, John J.and William, took over the building and operated the store for many years until three sons of William, John E, Sidney, and Wallace took over the store and continued the business until just before World War II. From the Bakers Store one could purchase meats, groceries, feed, hay, and hard goods. Upon occasion, depending who was appointed postmaster, this served as the town post office. When the building was enlarged a third floor auditorium was added. A number of interesting events occurred in this auditorium including silent movies, magicians and strong men of traveling medicine shows. This third floor even served as the town library before the Hills Memorial library was built in 1909.

The revitalization of the area began with the destruction of the Baker Block in 1964. Originally known as the Carnes Block built in the early 1860’s. Some of the principal owners of this building were James Carnes, Nathan Webster, the Baker Brothers for two generations, and finally at the time of demolition the Rodgers Family. By 1964 when this building was demolished it was considered by many as a firetrap and an eyesore as one entered the town.

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Old Martin House prior to Demolition

By 1969 the State of NH identified those properties needed for access roads. This included the Martin House, then owned by the Rodgers Family, and land frontage up to and including the Community Church. Our second photo shows the Martin Home in the late 1960’s shortly before it was demolished. Both photos are from the collection of the Hudson Historical Society.

One additional landmark building which disappeared in this time frame was the old transfer station for the three electric railway lines which met at Post Office Square. It was later the site of Joe Temple’s drug stone and, according to the memory of some residents, used as a residential dwelling before leaving our landscape alongside the concrete Taylor Falls Bridge. It is not clear to me when and how this building disappeared.

Revisit Places to Eat in Hudson … Derby’s Dairy Bar C1950

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Derby’s Dairy Bar on Ferry Street C1950

Derby’s was tucked away at the end of Ferry Street just before the bend in the road where Burnham Road begins. Probably remembered by just a handful of Hudson residents!!

George and Marion Derby opened their dairy bar at the end of Ferry Street in March 1950; advertising the best food cooked and served the way you like it!! A few years back I talked with my cousin Ray Parker about Derby’s. Ray and some of his high school friends had a small band. One day this group stopped into Derby’s, got talking, and as a result Mr. Derby offered them a place to practice. After all, it might help his business! For the next few months this group practiced and played at Derby’s. Ray found some old derby hats in his attic; thence their name became “The Derby Hatters”. This group contained 5 guys: Ray Parker on the drums, Dave Thompson at the piano, Wilford Boucher on the base fiddle, Lewis Carter with his sax, and a friend from Nashua on the trumpet. According to Ray, they did not play very long, nor did the dairy bar remain in business for long.

According to Manning’s Hudson Directory, Derby’s Dairy Bar and Trailer Court remained in business until 1954. That location became Moore’s Trailer Park and more recently Merrifield Park. It was located at the end of Ferry Street just before the name changes to Burnham Road. Photo courtesy of Gerry Winslow and now a part of the Historical Society Collection.

Further Destruction of Ferry Street

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Memorial Day Parade at Hudson’s Business Center C 1945

In March 1970 the State of NH identified land frontage and specific properties to be taken for bridge access  along Ferry Street.  Many residents remember those times and the major impact the demolition and reconstruction had on Ferry Street.  We have already discussed the destruction of the 20th Century complex and that of the White Cross Superstore on the opposite (south) side of Ferry Street at Post Office Square.  Today we look at  the impact on the north side of Ferry Street up to Library Street.  Three properties from the intersection of  Ferry and Webster Streets to Carl’s Esso were taken by the state:  the Morey Building, a Dry Cleaning shop, and Chick n’ Chips.  Also frontage was taken from the Esso station to Library Street.  The intersection of Baker Street onto Ferry Street was eliminated and Baker became a  dead street.  Frontage, including 26 shade trees, was removed from Library Park.  Initially it was thought that the old ‘trolley stop’ would also be demolished; but, in the final planning it was saved.
The Morey Building was an important part of the business center of Hudson about 1923 when it became the site of the Hudson Post Office.  This  building was also the initial location of the 20th Century Store, a shoe repair shop, and a second hand shop.  It was remodeled in 1948 into a 2 storey brick veneer building.  The Post Office occupied 1/2 of the first floor.  The rest of the first floor was rented to Trombley’s shoe repair.  The second floor provided residential apartments.  The Post Office remained at this location until 1959 when town growth required expansion of office space and parking.  A new Post Office was built at 15 Derry Street.
In April 1926 Ray House contracted with Osgood Construction Company of Nashua to build a 2 stall garage type building on Ferry Street; he then leased space, including office space, to the town of Hudson for a Fire/Police Station. This served as our fire station until after WWII when it was expanded to a 4 stall station.  In addition to the Police/Fire station this was home to Ferry Street Garage, Chevy Sales and Service, and Hudson Cab. As town growth continued plans were made to build a town owned station on town land.  The Central Fire Station (now Leonard Smith Station) was completed about 1953.
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Chicken ‘n’ Chips on Ferry Street C 1970

Once the Post Office, Fire and Police Departments removed from the area these building were used for various commercial purposes and residential apartments until their demolition in 1970. The Nashua Trust Bank used space in the Morey building for a temporary Hudson Office in 1964.  At time these buildings were home to Chicken ‘n Chips, a cleaning establishment, a donut shop, and residential apartments.
Driving on Ferry Street today heading toward the bridge into Nashua, there is no evidence of these buildings; in fact one wonders how there was even enough room for this complex to exist!  The only possible reminder of the old roadway is the dead end of Baker Street.

Places To Eat … The Meadows on Central Street

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Places To Eat … The Meadows on Central Street

We continue to revisit places to eat in Hudson through the years.  This week we travel to Hudson Center for a fried clam dinner followed by ice cream and a round of miniature golf for desert!!
In the late 1940’s traffic along the Route 111 corridor known as Central Street in Hudson Center was on the increase.  This was the result of the popularity of Benson’s Wild Animal Farm as well as the convenience of automobile travel for business and pleasure.  Businesses were beginning to open up or relocate  to  this section of the highway.    One of these that holds a permanent place in our memories is “The Meadows”, a seafood restaurant.
In September 1947 John Wollen, founder and long time owner of The Meadows,  purchased about 20 acres on the east side of Central Street from Perley B. and Clara E. Smith.  The Smith’s lived in the area and Perley operated a Cider Mill just a few lots south towards Belknap Road.  By the spring and summer of 1949 The Meadows opened for business and soon became a popular eating place for the locals as well as the tourists visiting Benson’s.  Their menu included fried clams, haddock, scallops, and sandwiches along with onion rings, french fries, and cold slaw.  A soda fountain was added for drinks and ice cream based deserts.  In 1962  a miniature golf course and a shuffle board court were added just north of the restaurant and near the meadow around Merrill Brook.
John Wollen was born in Hudson and educated in Nashua Schools.  He was the founder and owner of Meadows until a short time prior to his passing in November 1985.  He also operated the McNulty and Foley catering and function hall when it was located on Amherst Street in Nashua.
The Meadows was destroyed by fire on November 23,1992  after business was closed for the day.  A neighbor across Central Street noticed the flames and called the fire department.  The fire was fought by the Hudson department with assistance from Londonderry, Windham, Nashua, and Litchfield.  At the time the building was owned by Arthur  Bursey of Manchester and the restaurant operated by George Apostolopoulas of Wilmington, MA.  The Meadows did not re-open following the fire.
Many Hudson residents remember Berk and Son Farm Stand and Scott’s  Wood craft which operated on the northern end of The Meadows parking lot adjacent to Merrill Brook.  Little remains of The Meadows except our own memories of the delicious seafood and the summer evenings playing miniature golf.  The 20 plus acres with 500 feet of frontage onto Central Street which Mr Wollen purchased in 1947 has been idle for many years and is on the commercial real estate market.
Today’s photo of “The Meadows” was taken about 1975 at the time of the preparation of “The Town In Transition” an update to Hudson’s History.

White Cross Store Complex

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Roland’s White Cross Early

The plan to address the heavy traffic and congestion which had developed on the Taylor Falls Bridge between Hudson and Nashua by the early 1960’s was to have two bridges with one way traffic on each. A new bridge, The Veterans Memorial Bridge, north of the concrete Taylor Falls Bridge would handle west bound traffic from Hudson to Nashua. The existing concrete bridge would handle the east bound traffic from Nashua to Hudson. By July 1969 the bid process was completed and construction had began. The Veterans Memorial Bridge was dedicated and opened for traffic by September 1970.

During the five plus years before the opening of The Veterans Memorial Bridge, traffic increased further to the point that this became one of the busiest, if not the heaviest traveled bridge in the state. As early as March 1969 the search was on for funding to replace the ailing concrete bridge and in January 1970 the state announced it would be necessary to close the concrete bridge permanently once the new bridge was completed. The new bridge would be used for two-way traffic until plans were completed for a replacement to the Taylor Falls concrete bridge. There was competition for funding as plans were also being made to build the southern bridge connecting route 3A (Lowell Road) with route 3 in Nashua as part of the circumferential highway plans.

Even though the initial plan called for two bridges with one way traffic on each the design of the access roads were adaptable so that the new bridge could handle traffic in both directions should it become necessary; which it did! By March 1970 the state identified additional properties in both Hudson and the Nashua which were required for bridge access. On the Hudson side this included properties on Chase and Central Streets as well as on both sides of Ferry Street; including some frontage and the removal of trees on Library Park. The future of the old trolley stop was even in question!! The traffic pattern included the extension of Chase Street, which previously ended at School Street, through to Ferry Street. This week we will see the impact on the east side of Ferry Street and on the complex known as The White Cross Super Store.

We have two photos of the White Cross Store to share with you; one taken during the early years of the business and the second in 1968 during the last years of the business just prior to the state announcing that the building would be razed in order to accommodate access to and from the bridge(s).

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White Cross Super Store as seen from Webster Street 1968

The earliest reference to Roland’s White Cross appears in the 1948 Hudson Directory. According to an earlier directory Roland it is possible that Roland assumed operation of an earlier store on this site, Friendly Market with Raymond L. Jolley as Propietor. The store building was an existing Martin house which was renovated with a store front and signage. Apartments were available on the second floor.

By the early 1960’s Roland Levesque had partnered with Leo Noel and the business complex enlarged to include Hudson Pharmacy, Sherburne’s Restaurant, and Hudson Flower Shop. Leo Noel’s daughter was one of the early pharmacists and later Roland’s son, Richard was the pharmacist. Richard was the pharmacist when the business was closed. He later served as pharmacist at CVS on Derry Road. Robert Lynch, a Hudson resident and florist, opened his shop in the White Cross Super Store.

The state announced plans to purchase this complex in October 1970 and soon thereafter the building was razed. The 1970 Hudson Directory listed no buildings from the bridge to Campbell Avenue. The White Cross Super Store Complex was gone. Residents living in apartments were relocated elsewhere in town or to neighboring communities. The Pharmacy did relocate to Derry Road 20th Century Shopping Center.

The bid process for the Taylor Falls replacement bridge was completed by December 1972; construction began with a target completion date of November 1974. The Taylor Falls bridge replacement was in operation by January 1975. Today, as you travel from Nashua into Hudson you are greeted by the welcome to Hudson signage and plantings. There are few if any reminders of the White Cross Store.

Places to Eat Lowell Road … Blue Whale and now T-Bones!!

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Hudson Shopping Center C1977

This site is known for it’s popular restaurants … Gio’s Pizza, Blue Whale, and now T-Bones.

By the mid 1960’s business at the Hudson Shopping Center and their main store, The Hudson Super Market, was expanding and the Provencal Family would soon be expanding yet another time. In early 1968 the State of New Hampshire was searching for a site in Hudson for a State Liquor Store and this shopping center was soon selected as the site. By July of that year the ground breaking ceremony was held. Construction of a multi-unit building was started immediately and completed in November. By the first week in December what was slated as the most modern self service facility operated by the state was opened at the corner of Birch Street and Lowell Road and part of the Hudson Shopping Center. Our first photo shows the building as it appeared In 1977. At that time the building was the site of Gio’s Pizza on the Birch Street side with Giovanni’s Blue Whale Restaurant, Gosselin’s Pharmacy, and the NH State Liquor Store facing Lowell Road.

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TBones Plaza 2006

Today this is known as T-Bones Plaza. T-Bones moved into Hudson in 1991 and soon became a popular place for lunch and/or dinner. In 2006, when our second photo was taken, this was the location of T-Bones as well as Postal Center, Supercuts, Subway, a dance academy, tanning spa, and a dry cleaners. Both photos are from the Historical Society Collection.

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