In the late 1940’s traffic along the Route 111 corridor known as Central Street in Hudson Center was on the increase. This was the result of the popularity of Benson’s Wild Animal Farm as well as the convenience of automobile travel for business and pleasure. Businesses were beginning to open up or relocate to this section of the highway. One of these that holds a permanent place in our memories is “The Meadows”, a seafood restaurant.
In September 1947 John Wollen, founder and long time owner of The Meadows, purchased about 20 acres on the east side of Central Street from Perley B. and Clara E. Smith. The Smith’s lived in the area and Perley operated a Cider Mill just a few lots south towards Belknap Road. By the spring and summer of 1949 The Meadows opened for business and soon became a popular eating place for the locals as well as the tourists visiting Benson’s. Their menu included fried clams, haddock, scallops, and sandwiches along with onion rings, french fries, and cold slaw. A soda fountain was added for drinks and ice cream based deserts. In 1962 a miniature golf course and a shuffle board court were added just north of the restaurant and near the meadow around Merrill Brook.
John Wollen was born in Hudson and educated in Nashua Schools. He was the founder and owner of Meadows until a short time prior to his passing in November 1985. He also operated the McNulty and Foley catering and function hall when it was located on Amherst Street in Nashua.
The Meadows was destroyed by fire on November 23,1992 after business was closed for the day. A neighbor across Central Street noticed the flames and called the fire department. The fire was fought by the Hudson department with assistance from Londonderry, Windham, Nashua, and Litchfield. At the time the building was owned by Arthur Bursey of Manchester and the restaurant operated by George Apostolopoulas of Wilmington, MA. The Meadows did not re-open following the fire.
Many Hudson residents remember Berk and Son Farm Stand and Scott’s Wood craft which operated on the northern end of The Meadows parking lot adjacent to Merrill Brook. Little remains of The Meadows except our own memories of the delicious seafood and the summer evenings playing miniature golf. The 20 plus acres with 500 feet of frontage onto Central Street which Mr Wollen purchased in 1947 has been idle for many years and is on the commercial real estate market.
Today’s photo of “The Meadows” was taken about 1975 at the time of the preparation of “The Town In Transition” an update to Hudson’s History.