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.