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.