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Monthly Archives: March 2016

Bronze Tablet Donated by Webster School Students in 1933


Bronze Tablet Donated by Webster School Students in 1933

While giving tours and talking town history we at the Historical Society frequently hear the question “When was our town established?  The bronze tablet  pictured here  identifies the five birthdays, or founding dates, for our town.
Dunstable, Mass was founded in 1673.  Most of the land contained within the present boundaries of Hudson was included within that town, with the exception of about 4,600 acres in  the northeast part of Hudson which was then a part of Londonderry.  The geography of Dunstable included land on both sides of the river including all or parts of some 14 towns in present day Mass and NH.  In the early days of Dunstable land had been granted on the east side of the river but no real settlements occurred until about 1710.  We remained a part of Dunstable, Mass until 1733.
As the number of settlers on this side of the river increased  they petitioned Mass to be set off as a separate town.  This petition was answered on January 4, 1733 when the  charter for Nottingham, Mass was granted  This town included  all Dunstable lands on the east side of the river.  The General Court ordered that a Town Meeting be held within 3 months and a minister be settled within 3 years.    After survey and much debate the center of the town of Nottingham, Mass  was agreed upon and a meeting house built on what is now Musquash Road.  The town of Nottingham, Mass remained as such for only 9 years, until 1741.
The ancient  boundary between the provinces of NH and Mass was based upon the Merrimack River and the misconception that the river flowed from west to east;  with no  idea of the abrupt bend northward the river made near Chelmsford.  This resulted in some dual grants by the rival provinces of NH and Mass and a boundary dispute which was not settled until 1741.  At that time the line was established to run 3 miles north  of the Merrimack River from the ocean until reaching a specific point north of Pawtuckett Falls; after that the line ran due west to the Connecticut River.  All land south of this line was in Mass.  Land to the  north was in Nottingham,NH;  called by many historians as the District of Nottingham as towns had not yet been incorporated under the laws of The State of NH.
During the time after 1741 a number of smaller New Hampshire towns were spun off from Nottingham and were incorporated within NH.  One of these, Nottingham West was incorporated in 1746 and a charter issued July 5, 1746.  Nottingham West contained most of the lands of the present town of Hudson, except for those  acres  in Londonderry and minor adjustments to the boundaries with Windham and Pelham.
We remained as Nottingham West until 1830.  At the annual town meeting of 1830 the voters of Nottingham West adopted an article to petition the General Court of NH to alter the name to Auburn  or to designate some other name.  The name was changed to Hudson July 1, 1830.
Our town has 5 founding dates or birthdays.  In 1672 we were established as Dunstable, MA; 1733 as  Nottingham, MASS; 1741 as Nottingham, NH; 1740 as Nottingham West, NH; and in 1830 as Hudson, NH.  This confuses our celebrations!   In 1933 we celebrated the 200th birthday of incorporation of Nottingham, Mass; in 1972, some 39 years later, we celebrated the 300 birthday of the founding of Dunstable!  To my knowledge there was never a centennial or bi-centennial celebration for Nottingham West and no centennial celebration for changing name to Hudson in 1830.  So, when will our next celebration be?  perhaps in the year 2022, some six years from now, when we celebrate the 250th anniversary of Nottingham West?
 This tablet is located within the School Administration Building,  aka Kimball Webster School, and was donated to the Town by the students of Webster School as part of our 1933 bi-centennial celebration. Photo taken for publication of Town in Transition and is part of the Historical Society collection.



Organ Concert

 Organ Concert
on 19th Century Mason & Hamlin Organ
Presented by the Hudson Historical Society


When: Sunday, April 10

Time:  Doors open at 3 p.m.                                          1850 organ comp

 Where: Alvirne Hills House 

                   211 Derry Road


The Hudson Historical Society is proud to present an afternoon of music on the recently restored Mason and Hamlin Organ. Bruce Stevens, of Ryegate, Vermont, who completed the restoration, will perform selections from a variety of composers – Bach, Joplin, Gershwin and more- as well as some musical surprises to demonstrate the versatility of the organ. The historic organ was the organ at the Hudson Baptist Church for many years.

Doors will open at 3:00 p.m. and concert will begin at 3:30 p.m. Refreshments will be served. Admission is free, but donations will be gratefully accepted.


Town Office Building C 1965


Breaking Ground for Town Office March 1965

At the Annual Town Meeting in March 1964 we appropriated $50,000 for a Town Office Building.  Soon thereafter Leonard Smith was selected as the designer.  Plans and specifications moved forward and the required public hearing was scheduled for December 8, 1964 at the  H.O. Smith School.   The plans provided about 4,800 square feet of floor space which  would accommodate the Selectmen’s office, Police Department, Town Clerk and Tax collector, Planning Board, Board of Adjustment. the Building Inspector, as well as a meeting hall for officials and civic groups.   The School Street site was selected because the town owned the property and the playground facilities located there could be transferred to the H O Smith playground.   Bids were asked for and all  bids received were above the appropriation.  This resulted in negotiations between the Board of Selectmen and the lowest bidder.   The contract was signed and ground was broken in early spring 1965.  Our first photo shows the first ‘swipe’ of ground taken by the bulldozer to prepare the former playground on School Street for the foundation for this office building. In the background we see the old fire alarm and the rear of the  row houses along Ferry Street.
Adrien Labrie of Nashua was the General Contractor for the project.  This company was also the contractor for the Alvirne High School addition, in process at the same time.    Because of  pressures to have the school addition ready for September, construction of the Office Building received several setbacks. Originally the  schedule hoped for occupancy during summer of 1965; actual occupancy was delayed until late December of that year.At that time the Police Department and town officers mentioned above moved into this new facility.

Town Office Building C 1970

In 1974 a 30 x 60 foot addition was made; and in 1985 a second addition was approved by the town.  This latter addition included the addition of a porch-style life and ramps for handicap accessibility.  Photos from Historical Society Collection.

Ferry Street Fire Station C 1926

Ferry st fire station  c 1926 comp

Ferry Street Station and Crew C 1926

The Hudson Fire Department takes its origin back to 1892 when the Hudson Hose Company was founded by a group of volunteers.  This independent company raised their own funds for equipment and expenses.  Individuals paid dues, were fined for missed meetings, and engaged in fund raisers.  Their first project was the building of the Old Hose House on Central Street just above the Methodist (now Community) Church.  Individuals pledged time in order to supply the necessary labor.  This building was sufficient to house early equipment and provide a place for volunteers to meet.
In 1913 this group purchased the Kelly Springfield truck by public subscription at a cost of $1,030.  Individuals signed a note at The Nashua Trust Company.  This vehicle is said to be the first piece of motorized fire equipment used in New Hampshire.  The next year this truck and the balance of payments was turned over to the town with the understanding that the truck would be housed near the bridge.  Prior to this time the town had not formerly helped the department.  Through this action and payment of a small salary our early firefighters were able to join the State’s Firemen’s Relief Association.  The Kelly was housed in a  garage on Campbell Avenue donated by Charles Norton.  As the department expanded and more equipment purchased, the move was made to to the House Brothers’ Garage on Ferry Street.
In April 20, 1926 The Osgood Construction company of Nashua was awarded the contract for a new fire house for the Hudson Department; built for Raymond House.  Details were finalized and work started .immediately.  The press release in the local paper April 20, 1926 stated that part of the old garage was moved to make room for the new engine house.  The Town of Hudson had signed a five year lease with Mr House for this new station which had two vehicle stalls, an office and lounging room for members of the department as well as a sleeping room.  It was a bungalow style building made of brick and  concrete blocks.  Brick on the front and concrete blocks on the sides.  The new building was expected to be ready for occupancy in a few months. This station was located on Ferry Street, opposite and slightly north of the intersection with Campbell Avenue; about where the Gulf Station is now located.
A vote was recorded to have a photograph of department members in front of the newly completed station in the mid 1920’s.  The photo of the Ferry Street Station C 1926 seen here could be the result of that motion.  The photo shows the two stall station, the Reo firetrucks used at the time, along with drivers and members of the department.  Charles Reynonds and Ray House are in the driver;s seat of the left engine.  Harry Emerson and Fred House are in the right engine.  Standing between the engines from left to right are:  Ornam Campbell, Bill Edgley, Charles Farmer, Edward Robinson, Sidney Baker, Earl Alexander, Chief Harry Connell, John Pearson, Allen Andrews, Joseph Fuller, Walace Baker, Paul Buxton (arrow), and Roland Abbott.
This Ferry Street station served the department and the community until some time after World War II when it was expanded to a four stall station.  Then, as town growth occurred  in the early 1950’s the Central Fire station (now Leonard Smith station) was built on corner of Library and School Streets.  In time the Ferry Street building was razed to make way for the access roads leading to and from the bridges. Photo from the Historical Society collection.

Central Fire Station C 1955


Central Fire Station C 1955

The year was 1951 and Hudson’s population was rapidly growing.  The Town’s four-stalled rented fire station on Ferry Street was already overcrowded.  The problem was simple:  how could the town build a larger fire station without raising the already high tax rate?  The Selectmen, the then volunteer fire department, and Frank Nutting had a plan.  They would borrow $40,000.  The  yearly cost to repay  this loan would be about the same as what the town was already paying for the rented station.  This money would be used for materials; the labor to build the station would come from volunteers.  At the town meeting in March 1952, the town voted to build a firehouse at a cost not exceeding $40,000.
The planning and architectural work was done by Leonard Smith, a local builder and member of the volunteer fire department.  Ground was broken May 1, 1952 on town owned land at the corner of Library and School Streets, opposite Webster School;  utilizing about one-half of the approximately 1.3 acres of the old ball field. Community spirit was high; volunteers came from within the department, the town, town organizations, and even from surrounding towns.  Engineers, builders, merchants, and laborers came forward to help.  The result was this fire station of typical New England architecture with housing for nine trucks, offices, rest rooms, kitchen, future sleeping area, and an assembly hall.  There was also room for expansion.  By fall of 1952 the building was enclosed for winter work and by summer of 1953 the new station was put into service.  One work session occurred on April 3, 1953 with 24 men and 16 members of the fire department.  Following work they were rewarded by a ham and bean supper prepared by Leon Hammond, Norman Crosby, and Lewis Reynolds.
This facility housed the fire and police departments.  Later the upstairs was used for temporary classrooms, then for meetings and classes for both departments with space for supplies.  The Board of Selectmen moved their office from the basement of the Hills Library into the fire station, remaining here until the town office building was built next door  on the corner of School and what is now Chase Street.  At that time Chase Street ended at School Street and did not extend to Ferry Street.
As town growth  and needs of the fire department continued an addition to this station has occurred as well as the addition of satellite stations on Burns Hill and Robinson Roads.  Shortly after the passing of Leonard Smith in  2002, the Central Fire station was renamed The Leonard  E. Smith Fire Station” in his memory.  Photo from the Historical Society collection.