As early as 1956 boys and girls between the ages of 7 and 14 were bused, transported by car, or walked to Camp Cayuga on the Lowell Road in Hudson. Camp Cayuga, a summer day camp, was operated by John S. Groves on his family’s 265 acre farm. The camp activities started at 9 am and ended at 4 pm. Each camper brought their own lunch except on Thursdays when there was a noonday cookout. The camping season was 8 weeks, during the months of July and August. As many as 125 plus children came from towns like Milford, Amherst, Merrimack. Lowell, Chelmsford, Nashua and Hudson. Camp facilities included a large barn for a place of assembly, a swimming pond on the property which was recently dug by a bulldozer along a brook which ran thru the property, bath houses, Indian camps where campers divided into tribes, playing fields, horseback riding rinks, and woods for nature study. Horse back riding was one of the more popular events. special events,such as horse shows, carnivals, and fishing derbys, were often held.
The Groves farm was located on the western side of Lowell Road and extended to the Merrimack River. Until 1955 Mr. Groves had farmed the land and operated an automobile sales agency on the premises. He then turned from auto sales to teaching school. The idea of using the farm as a summer camp was suggested to him by a friend a few years earlier. The possibilities for expansion were considered as tremendous as within a 15 mile area there were 200,000 people and only 2 other day camps in the area.
Within a few years growth came to Lowell Road and with it an increase in property values. The State of New Hampshire had plans for a Circumferential Highway. By the early 1970’s the northern portion of this farm was used for the access road to the Sagamore Bridge. Of the remaining acres, the part abutting Lowell Road is the location of Sam’s Club; the back portion toward the river is part of The Green Meadows Golf Course, Photo courtesy of Leo Demers and now a part of the Historical Society Collection. (Published HLN June 26, 2015)
On a beautiful fall day in October 1956 Saint Anthon’y Friary on the Lowell Road was dedicated. By that time the building was complete, landscaped, and the access road from Lowell Road paved. Bishop Brady of Manchester was the celebrant. Of the many sites considered in 1954, this 148 acre property with 2,700 feet on the banks of the Merrimack River far excelled others. It was 3 miles from the Nashua train station with 10 trains to and from Boston on weekdays, 6 on Sundays. The property was purchased from Laurette Jacques, The site was blessed and groundbreaking began March 26, 1954. Careful and professional design resulted in a 3 storey quadrangular building with 115 private rooms plus rooms for visitors, suites for staff, an infirmary, a 2 story choir, and a library on the third floor. The Province received much professional help for which they were grateful.
For nearly 25 years The Friary served to educate young men for the priesthood. By 1979 the Friary building and then 172 acres was put on the market and the Town of Hudson was offered first refusal. After 25 years of landscaping by the Capuchin monks the property had pine and fir forests, red and white oaks, maple, birch, ash, hickory, and other trees. There were also handball courts, tennis courts, a swimming pool, and self contained water ans septic systems.The 3 story building was served by 4 stairways and an elevator.
The town received permission for a special town meeting on October 19, 1979 in order to decide on the acquisition of the Friary at a cost of $2.8 million. Many were in favor and many were opposed. A majority of the voters favored the the purchase but; a 2/3 vote was needed. The purchase was defeated by 22 votes.
Moving forward to present time, a part of the site has been commercially developed by extending Executative Drive. The Lowell Road frontage at 161 Lowell Road has not been developed. Information and photo courtesy of Brother Roger and now a part of the Historical Society collection. (Published HLN June 19, 2015)
The Oblates purchased the Wilson Farm on the Lowell Road in 1922 and established a novitiate for young men entering the priest hood. The initial wooden building burned in 1935 and was replaced by this brick building in 1936. The novitiate closed and the building was used as a retreat house beginning about 1941. Many religious based retreats were held here for religious leaders, lay persons, teens, and individuals with special needs. A large lecture hall and chapel were added later. In the first photo we see the Oblate Retreat House as it appeared in 1976.
Some of our readers may recall attending a weekly or weekend retreat at the OMI (Oblates of Mary Immaculate) Retreat House; many more will remember the magnificent display of Christmas lights as early as 1952. In 1960 as many as 300,000 lights were used in the special display which caused a glow in the sky for many to see! Travelers were lined up and down Lowell Road to catch a look at the display which was visible from the road. The second photo shows one of these exhibits. These exhibits left fond memories with many residents; the magnificent displays on the building and grounds and the enchanted village inside. All open to the public.
Local residents remember, and miss, the friendly, welcoming atmosphere extended by the brothers of OMI to the kids and families living in the area. Hudson resident Leo Demers and his childhood friend Fran would spend summer/winter days helping the resident brothers and priests with chores such as weeding, raking and general clean-up, decorating for Christmas. For this they were paid a dish of ice-cream!!
After the retreat house closed the property was placed in a holding company and purchased by Etchstone Properties in 2005. This building and the acres around it are now the location of Mission Pointe, residences for age 60+, at 200 Lowell Road.
The Oblate of Mary Immaculate were one of 3 religious organizations who purchased large pieces of farmland along Lowell Road; using the property in their own mission, keeping fields/forests maintained and unused for commercial purposes. Photo from the collection of the Hudson Historical Society. Published HLN June 12, 2015.
The bungalow style home, shown in the first picture, on Ferry Street was built of stone blocks with a metal roof after the previous family home was destroyed by fire in 1913. A careful look will show the electric car tracks on Ferry Street. The previous home, in the same location, was a two story clapboard house. It is shown here in 1913 fire as the firemen from
Hudson were battling the blaze which destroyed the house. We see the men on the porch roof with hoses in an attempt to contain the fire. These houses were the home of the Bassett/Johnson family from about 1890 until the mid 1970’s. The first Indian Head bank building in Hudson which opened in November 1965 was to the right of this home. By the mid 1970’s the bank had expansion plans and this property was purchased, the building razed, and the enlarged bank building constructed by 1976. The original bank building was moved to the corner of Ferry and Library Streets and is now in use by the Hudson Fire Department.
Almeda (Bassett) Johnson was a Hudson native. She married Charles Harold Johnson of Portsmouth in 1925. They spent most, if not all of their married life in the bungalow on 15 Ferry Street. He worked as a foreman in Nashua. Almeda was active in the Community Church, women’s organizations, and in the mid to late 1950 was the proprietor of Wee Wisdom Kindergarten which she operated from her home. Almeda’s father, Joseph Bassett was a painter of high end carriages and automobiles.
This location is now the site of Sandander bank. The photos were a donation to the Hudson Historical Society from Mrs. Almeda (Bassett) Johnson. (Published HLN June 5, 2015)