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.