The subject of today’s photo is well known to most of our readers; the Alvirne High School barn. Hudson is fortunate to have a working farm as part of it’s educational program and also to have an historic farm which dates back for several generations in the Hills Family.
Alfred Kimball Hills, Hudson benefactor, was born on this farm in 1840. This was his father Alden’s, farm, and his grandfather Elijah before that; going back to James. James was the youngest of three brothers who established the Hills Garrison about 1710. Their grandfather, Joseph Hills of Malden, MA received a grant of some 500 acres of land within the boundaries of the present town of Hudson from the Commonwealth in 1661.
Alfred married Martha Simmons of Rhode Island, studied medicine at Harvard, and established his medical career in New York City. Martha passed while he was still a young man. He married a second time to Ida Virginia Creutzborg of Pennsylvania. Alfred and Virginia purchased The Hills Family farm and built a summer home on the premises. He called the farm and his summer home Alvirne. Today we refer to the High School and farm as Alvirne; the summer home is called The Hills House. Dr. Hills continued the operation of the farm by a farm manager. Ida Virginia passed in 1908. A short time later he married Jessie Norwell, a Nashua native. Dr. Hill passed in 1920 and by his will he established the funding for an ‘industrial school’ to be called Alvirne. His will was met with many challenges; but, on June 7, 1948 Alvirne High School opened it’s doors for the first time. A six week summer session was held for 22 girls and 15 boys. Classes were held within the Hills House and on the surrounding farm land. This brief session, taught by Maude French and KennethGibbs, was sufficient to secure the funds for the town of Hudson. Through the encouragement Jessie Norwell Hills Alvirne High was built on the site of the Hills family estate and the Alvirne farm became part of the educational program of Hudson. The first graduation was held in June 1950.
This photo was taken C 1970, before the expansion of Alvirne to include the Palmer Vocational Technical Center. It was taken from a roadway which led from the north end of the high school to the farm. We can see the herd, barn, and some of the students.
As most readers recall, Alvirne suffered a severe fire in 1974 and was rebuilt one year later. What may have been forgotton or not realized is that the Alvirne barn was also destroyed by fire on the last day of March 1993.
The new barn, very similar to the original, is shown in the second photo. One sure way of distinguishing photos of the barn is the weather vane (called by many a ‘Web vane”) on the new barn. This vane was placed upon the cupola of the barn in honor of Web “Wilbur” Palmer, long time Vot-tec director and agricultural teacher of Alvirne. Both photos are from the Historical Society collection.