Memorial Day May 30, 1949 Ferry Street
Mary ‘Mamie’ and Herbert Shephard
If you identified this week’s photo as an early picture of the Hudson Community Church, you are partially correct! This photo was taken circa 1910 and at that time this building was the Second Meeting House of the First Methodist Society of Hudson. It was built and dedicated in 1880. So, where was the First Methodist Meeting House and what happened to it?
The Methodist Episcopal Society in Hudson was organized in 1840. For about 10 years prior to that date a number of townspeople were embracing the religious opinions of the Methodists. Many were attending services in Nashua as there was no settled minister in this part of town; and from time to time a Methodist preacher would lecture in Hudson. The interest grew and in 1839 the Rev. Jared Perkins, the Methodist minister from Nashua came to Hudson and lectured in the No 4 schoolhouse, near Blodgett Cemetery. The interest was such that in 1840, at the Annual Methodist Conference, the Rev. Abraham Folsom was placed in charge. He was a man of energy and zeal and he quickly organized a church which would endure and continue for many years to come. Through his efforts $1,250 was raised or pledged for building a house of worship.
First Methodist Meeting House
On August 1, 1840 it was voted to build a meeting house on land donated by Abiather Winn. This plain, modest building 40 x 50 feet was dedicated December 2 of that year. Between Webster’s History and the 1858 map of Hudson; I place this First Methodist Meeting House to have been on the south side of Central Street near the intersection with Melandy Road. This meeting house had 44 pews which were sold at auction; the sale of which raised enough money to pay for the building. The $1,250 raised earlier was returned to the donors. A few years later a small parsonage was built near the south-west corner of the church a cost of $400. This location was inconvenient for the parsonage so a new parsonage lot was secured on the north side of Central Street, east of and adjacent to the Congregational Meeting House which had been build in 1842. Sometime close to 1848 the parsonage building was moved onto that lot and remodeled to include an ell and a small stable. So, the parsonage and church building were near each other on opposite sides of Central Street near Melandy Road.
In 1874 along came the Nashua and Rochester Railroad with the tracks running along Central Street separating the Methodist meeting House from the parsonage even more. This was not just inconvenient, it was dangerous. The church decided move the church to the north side of the highway near the parsonage and on the same lot. At that time the church building was enlarged and rededicated in January 1878.
Disaster struck in August of 1879, a little over 18 months after rededication. On Sunday, August 3, immediately after service a fire broke out in the stable.Both the church and the parsonage were reduced to ashes. If not for the efforts of the Nashua Fire Department, and local townspeople, a number of homes and possibly the Congregational church would have been lost. The buildings were insured for $1,500; less than 1/2 of their real value. This was a severe and nearly fatal blow to the devoted church and society.
Services were temporarily held in a small hall near the bridge owned by James Carnes. Discussions resulted regarding a satisfactory and suitable location for a new house of worship. There was much difference of opinion. Some wanted to rebuild in the same location; others wanted a location nearer the bridge. By this time a number of church members were living on the east side of Nashua. When put to a vote the location of the present brick church, now Hudson Community Church, was chosen. Plans were made and by December 7, 1880 The Second meeting House of the Methodist Episcopal Church was dedicated. It was a 40 x 70 ft building of wood and brick, two stories with a tower spire on the north-east corner.
The parsonage building, also destroyed in the 1879 fire, was not replaced at this time. The church provided whatever housing they could for their pastor. By 1888 a parsonage lot was secured by the church on Baker Street; by the fall of 1894 a parsonage was built. The church contracted with Isaac Newton Smith of Hudson Center as the builder. Cost: less that $2,500.
This church and the women’s organization were was very active in the Hudson Bridge community. During World War I the pastor, Rev. Roy Honneywell took a leave of absence from this church to serve as a chaplain in the US. Army. During the 18 months of his absence The Methodists and The congregationalists united for services in the Methodist Church. As time went on, there was more and more union between the two Protestant churches at the Bridge. As we have learned, the Congregation and the Methodist churches merged in 1930 to form the Hudson Community Church.
The photo of the Methodist Episcopal Church shown here is the one used by Kimball Webster in his History of Hudson. It is from the collection of the Historical Society.
Early Church Prior To 1842
Church at 76 Central Street
By 1842, under the Pastorate of Rev Willard Holbrook, the church building as shown in our first photo, was built at what is now 76 Central Street. Periods of growth and periods of inactivity continued until 1876 when the church became active with a spirit of growth and union.
Today we have many favorite places in town to enjoy breakfast or lunch: Cookies, Donna’s Place, North Side Grill, and Suzies to name a few. In the 1970’s one such favorite was Andre’s Restaurant located in the Hudson Grange Building at 76 Central Street, and shown in this photo.
Hudson Grange #11 was organized in December 1873 in the Number 6 Schoolhouse on Derry Road with Kimball Webster as the first Master. The grange, a ritualistic family fraternity originally based on rural and farm life, was one of the leading social organizations in town during the 1920’s. Meetings were quite late, beginning ‘after chores’ to permit farmers to attend to the evening milking and feeding before coming out for a meeting. A typical evening would include a crisply run business meeting, recognition of guests, a program, discussions for the good of the order and/or town, and a lunch. A program might be educational, some relevant agricultural topic, local events and/or politics, or entertaining. Often featuring local musical and/or literary talent.
Hudson Grange rented the Odd Fellows Hall (now the American Legion) for it’s meetings from 1903 to 1920. This arrangement proved satisfactory until the winter of 1920 when differences of opinion resulted between the tenants and landlord; as a result the grange looked into a change in meeting location. A large number of members were from the Hudson Center area and advocated using the Town Hall (now Wattannick Hall) in Hudson Center. The body agreed and meetings were moved to Hudson Center; an increase in membership mostly from the center area resulted almost immediately.
For the next 18 months meetings were held in the Town Hall with mixed success; depending upon your proximity to the meeting place. Members from The Bridge area did not want to travel to Hudson Center for meetings and visa versa. Meanwhile representatives from the grange were working to settle differences with the proprietors of the Odd Fellows Hall. Again the matter again came to a vote; and the body voted to return to the bridge area for their meetings.
At about the same time many members from the Center area requested withdrawal cards. This group soon obtained their own charter and Wattannick Grange #327 was organized. A smaller Hudson Grange returned to The Bridge and the Odd Fellows Building until 1935 when the building shown in this weeks photo, the former Hudson Congregational Church Building, became available due to a merger between the Congregational and the Methodist Congregations. Hudson Grange purchased the building from the newly formed Hudson Community Church. Soon after purchase the steeple was removed, the carpet was removed, and the grange held meetings and danced in what had been a church sanctuary.
In 1963 the grange entered into a lease agreement with Andrew Kinsville to establish a restaurant and a catering center; the grange retained ownership and use of the hall as a meeting place. This arrangement continued and Andre’s Restaurant and Antoinnes Catering grew in popularity with many service organizations holding their regular meetings here. Then, in the early morning hours of May 9, 1977 the building known as Hudson Grange (formerly the ‘White Church’ was destroyed by fire. A small group of young intruders were held responsible for the fire as an act to cover up a robbery. At the time of the fire the premises were used for regular meetings by Hudson Rotary, Hudson Lions, chamber of Commerce, Kiwanis Club, and United Commercial Travel. Each of these organizations quickly had to make arrangements to meet elsewhere.
Hudson Grange also made arrangements to meet elsewhere in town and the building was never replaced. By the mid 1980’s the property was sold. A private residence is now located at 76 Central Street. A few years ago in 2001 members of Hudson Grange and Wattannick Grange merged back into the charter of Hudson Grange. Meetings are now held in Wattannick Hall in Hudson Center.