In July 1966 the Roman Catholic Diocese purchased approximately 4.9 acres and the former Blanchette home on the corner of Wason and Lowell Road from Armand Blanchette. Back through history this intersection was called Gowings’ Corner; in part because of this home, but also due to the large Gowing homestead located across from this house on Lowell Road. Samuel Gowing (born 1842) built this home around 1885 and lived here until his death in 1933 after which it remained in the Gowing family until sold to the Blanchette’s in 1942. In August 1966 the Catholic Diocese announced plans to establish a mission chapel in south Hudson as part of the parish of St. John Evangelist. The chapel was built on this site and the building blessed in June 1968.
The chapel was built by Caron Construction Co. of Manchester. The result was a modern, unusual, and graceful building. The roof reached to the ground at each of the 4 corners; known to be a favorite climbing spot for a number of unidentified young folks! Inside the windows flanked the altar and reached from the floor to the domed wooden ceiling. Beams stretched from the center of this dome to the middle of each side. The overall affect was one of simplicity, augmented by natural materials used in construction. The free standing bell tower, which some may remember, was added in December 1993.
In June 1969 the Parish of St. Kathryn’s in Hudson was dedicated and Rev. Gerald Chalifour named as the first pastor. The name St. Kathryn was chosen for St. Catherine of Siena (using the Gaelic spelling of her name) and in recognition of a gift of money made to the church by William Henry of Exeter in memory of his wife Kathryn.
The white farmhouse shown in our first photo became the first rectory of the newly dedicated parish. This farmhouse was used as the rectory until early 1970’s at which time the pastor moved to a house at 5 Wason Road just beyond the church. The farmhouse was rented for various purposes and ultimately became home to the Christian Life Center.
In June 1973 the church purchased a 1.8 acre parcel of land including a house from the estate of Brenton Morgan. This parcel encircled the existing property on the east and south. This was a portion of what remained of his farm after a large part had been taken by the State of New Hampshire for the circumferential highway. The house was soon used as the rectory. Shortly afterwards a former chicken coop in Hookset was purchased and moved in sections to Hudson and reconstructed into St Kathryn’s Hall by October 1974.
Father Gary J. Beliveau came to St Kathryn Parish in 1993. At age 34 he was the youngest pastor in the Manchester Diocese. When he arrived the plan was to build up the parish but also to realize the parish may merge with another or potentially be closed. Under his leadership the parish grew from a small dedicated and enthusiastic parish to a vibrant, larger parish.
Within two years of his arrival the parish embarked upon Project 2000 – to become a growing and going church. The congregation outgrew it’s present site by June 1999 and land was purchased on Dracut road for a new church. Approximately 1 year later the old buildings at the corner of Lowell and Wason were formally closed. For a few months Sunday masses were held in the cafeteria of Presentation of Mary. Weekday masses were held at the former Oblate Retreat house. The new St Kathryn’s church on Dracut Road was constructed and dedicated by August 12, 2000.
Changes occur so quickly in Hudson that it may be difficult to remember the St Kathryn’s buildings at Lowell and Wason. The property was sold to Manny Sousa in May 2000. The old farmhouse was used as a training site by the Hudson Fire Department. The church building itself was dismantled. The site was then developed into a retail center; the first tenant being Shop and Shop Supermarket. Over the past few years Shop and Shop closed their operation and the buildings have been re-purposed into a Goodwilll store and donation center. Both photos are from the Historical Society Collection.