From Lowell Road take a left onto Wason Road which is between Market Basket and Goodwill. Stay on Wason and then take a right onto Musquash Road. In less than 1/4 mile, the observent traveler will see a relic of Hudson’s history – a cellar hole on the left at 20 Musquash Road; a reminder of an ancient homestead for many Hudson families.
The last family to live here was that of Leslie and Florence (Chadwick) Barrett. They moved to Hudson from Bowdoinham, Maine in 1938 with their family of 2 boys and 2 girls. By 1941 the family moved to “Happy Hills Farm” at 20 Musquash Road. Mr Barrett was employed at Bensons Animal Farm and later as a maintenance person in Nashua. After moving to Hudson the family grew to include 7 sons, one of whom died young; and 3 daughters. They all attended Hudson Schools. Mrs. Barrett passed in 1951 at the age of 40. In 1965 Mr Barrett retired and by July of that year had sold the farm. Members of his family were living elsewhere, working or attending college at UNH, or serving in the armed forces.
Today’s photo shows the charred remains of this landmark home after the unoccupied house was destroyed by fire in April 1966. The Hudson Fire Department used 5 pieces of equipment under the direction of Chief Campbell to fight the fire over a 3 hour period. This building had been a landmark in town for over 170 years. Local legend says this house was a stagecoach stop during the early days — entirely possible when you consider that before 1746 Musquash Road (then called Back Road) was the main road through the center of town!
From this photo and memories offered by family members we can imagine the homestead. The barn was on the opposite side of the unpaved road from the house, with a faded painted sign over the barn door “HAPPY HILLS FARM”. Mr Barrett used a team of work horses around the place. The farm included a few fruit trees, apple, pears, peaches; cows, a few goats, a sheep, pigs, and chickens. The barn was large with a central aisle and stanchions for cows on one side and pigs, sheep, and goats on the other. The Barrett children would play in the hay and on the barn floor during cold and rainy days.
It was a 3 story house with 4 large rooms on each floor, 2 massive chimneys and 8 fireplaces. Looking at the photo, you can see the details of the fireplaces and the separation of each of the floors. There were secret places to hide in the house with large closets accessible from the bedrooms. On the first floor, between the kitchen and living room, there was a small room with an 8 foot dutch oven built into the base of the large chimney, all brick faced, with iron doors for 2 large ovens. This dutch oven was not used by the Barrett family but it was the centerpiece of the house. The house was wired for electricity in the 1940’s and the family had a radio in the living room and an electric washer with a ringer for the laundry. The children helped with the household and farm chores; baking bread, pies, cakes, canning vegetables and fruits, jams and pickles. All these were stored in the cellar along with potatoes, squash, and cabbage for the winter. After helping with the chores the children would explore and play in the woods nearby.
Attached to the front and side of the house was a large porch about 8 feet deep. There were at least 6 pillars in the front of the house and 3 along the side. The lawn contained a large tree and a circular driveway.
The earliest family to occupy this house that we know much about was that of Zaccheus Colburn, born 1765 the youngest son of Thomas and Mary Colburn. He married Rachel Hills in 1788 and they purchased this home from Ebenezer Dakin. Little is known of Ebenezer except that he was on the tax list from 1745 to 1793. Zaccheus and Rachel has a family of three sons and two daughters. One son died young. The other two sons, Elijah and Zaccheus, studied for and became medical doctors. Dr Elijah began his medical career in Hudson about 1823 and by 1825 had settled in Nashua where he had a long and useful career. Dr. Zaccheus began his career with his brother Elijah in Nashua until 1831; then returned to Hudson and practiced until 1838 at which time he moved to Manchester. The youngest daughter, Molly, married Thomas B. Wason and they remained on the farm with her parents. Thomas was active in town affairs; serving as a selectman and representative to state legislature. In fact, it was Thomas who presented the motion to the NH Lesiglature in 1830 to change the name of Nottingham West to Hudson.
Title of the Thomas B. Wason place passed to their son-in-law Obadiah F. Smith who married their youngest daughter, Philena. In June 1891, James F(ranklin) Wilson purchased the farm of 190 acres. James Wilson was a farmer, in fact his father Franklin had owned a farm at the very southern end of Dracut Road. By 1909 James transfered title of his homestead farm to his son, Frank A. Wilson. By June 1917 the farm was sold to Matilda Parker. Ownership remained with this Parker family until 1941 when it was purchased by Leslie Barrett.
In 1988 a tax lien was placed on the property and in 1990 it was conveyed to the Town of Hudson and is near or part of the Musquash Conservation Area. Photo from the Historical Society Collection.
188 Central Street at the corner with Burnham Road was home to Ivan Robinson Smith and his family of Mary (Manning) and their son Donald. Ivan was employed as a molder in Nashua; retiring from White Mountain Freezer Company. This Smith family homestead was a family farm on about 3 acres of land. Ivan was born in Hudson in 1897 and lived the better part of his life on this farm. Our first photo shows the Smith home in 1942 shortly after it was reconstructed and reduced in size following a fire. The fire started in the house and destroyed about 50% of the house and the entire barn. The house, white with shutters, had a doorway and driveway onto Central Street. After Ivan’s death in 1966, Mary and Donald continued to live here until the property was sold to the Cloutier Brothers for commercial purposes in 1972. A few years prior to this final sale two other parcels had been sold. The first was sold as a residential lot to Mr and Mrs George Tetler who became good and faithful neighbors to the Smiths, living at what is now 21 Burnham Road until 1979. The second parcel was for commercial purposes and gave rise to the commercial building at 23 Burnham Road. After the sale of their home Mary and son Donald moved to a house on Tessier Street here in Hudson. Mary passed in 1990; known for her gentle disposition despite being bed ridden for over 20 years with arthritis. Donald attended Hudson schools, graduated Alvirne and Andover Institute of Business. He retired from The Telegraph as Business Manager after 45 years of service. He remains in Hudson, living on Glasgow Circle.
Prior to Ivan this was home to his father Marcel and his grandfather William. William moved here from Massachusets with his family in the 1800’s. Hudson has a number of Smith families; and as far as we know, there is no known connection between this Smith line and the others in our town.
Our second photo shows the corner of Central and Burnham C 1977 as photographed for the “Town in Transition”. In the foreground is Hudson Professional Building built by Cloutier Brothers; now the location of Family Vision Care, Sapphire Salon, Julies, Merry Maids, and Electrolysys. At the time traffic flow at the corner was controlled by a stop sign – no traffic light!
Further along on Burnhad Road we see the private residence at 21 Burnham; originally home to Mr and Mrs George Tetler. In between is the commercial building at 23 Burnham; the location of Hudson Hair Design and Veteran Chimney. Two other commercial sites, not shown on this photo,were built on the Smith Homestead. They are Hudson Endodontic and Clean Monster Car Wash at 182 and 184 Central Street.
Thanks to Don Smith for the early photo and information about his family home. The 1977 photo is from the Historical Society collection.
Any story about Centronics Data Computer begins with Robert Howard. Earlier in his career Howard worked with An Wang (Wang Laboratories) on computer systems for the casino industry. This led Howard to invent the dot-matrix printer, and soon after he started Centronics Data Computer with 7 employees in Hudson, NH about 1968. Centronics commercialized the small dot-matrix printer which helped fuel the explosion and popularity of personal computers. From this small start-up the company grew to more than 6,000 workers worldwide, including 3,000 in NH. Robert Howard passed in 2014 and is remembered for his curiosity and his generosity. He is credited with the invention and popularity of the dot-matrix printer and the parallel interface. During his lifetime he formed more than two dozen companies. After Centronics he later founded Presstek and Howtek in Hudson during the 1980’s.
Centronics purchased a 3 acre land parcel from Clement Industrial Park on Route 111 in 1969 with an agreement to begin construction of a commercial building costing no less that $70,000 within 6 months. Clement Industrial Associates was formed in the 1960’s by a group of Hudson residents desiring to foster the growth of industry within town. This park was built on a portion of the farmland of Harry and Mildred Clement. The old Clement Farmhouse which burned in 1935, was located on the corner of what is now Clement Road and Route #111, about where Tip Top Tree Service is now located.
By 1971 Centronics was operating from this building on Route #111, The company reached a prime about 1979 with annual revenues over $100 million. The business of small printers became very competitive; plus there were product problems and lawsuits. By 1982 Control Data Corporation (CDC) merged their printer business into Centronics; invested $25 million in the company and took the business control away from Howard. By 1987 Control Data sold the printer business to GENICON. Using the proceeds from this sale, Centronics purchassed EKCO Housewares in 1988 and the company was renamed EKCO.
This commercial property is located at 1 Wall Street in Hudson and shown in this C 1977 photo from the Historical Society Collection. This building is now a part of Century Park, LLC and is home to Nutfield Technology, Princeton Technical Corporation, American Infrared Solutions, and possibly others.
This week we look north from Birch and Lowell onto 74 and 76 Lowell Road. Prior to 1966 74 Lowell Road was home to Xavier and Exillia Gagnon and their family. At that time they moved to a house on B Street in Hudson. Xavier was employed and later retired from Johns Manville Products Corp of Nashua. He passed in 1969 after living in Hudson for 43 years. His family included his wife, Exillia, 2 sons, 2 daughters, and 4 grandchildren. By 1966 the house at 74 Lowell was removed and soon replaced with The Hudson ’66’ Service Station; it is now a Sunoco Station.
By 1970 76 Lowell was under construction and it became the home of Star Dry Cleaners, later Anton’s Cleaners. By 1977, as shown in this weeks photo, it was the location of Halls Market. By 1980 the site expanded to include Halls Market, Prime Graphics, Superior Floor Company, and Suzies Donut and Coffee Shop. Over time Halls Market transitioned to Palmer’s Market, Suzies Diner became Kay’s, and other business transitioned to Shear Paradise and Kay’s Laundry, more recently D+D Laundry.
Contrast this photo with the busy intersection at Birch Street we see today and the filled parking lot across the way. Photo taken for publication in the Town in Transition and is part of the Historical Society Collection.