Each year as part of the Hudson History Tour students delight in ringing the bell located on the front lawn of the Hills House. This bell once hung high above Hudson Center in the tower of the old two room school house on Kimball Hill Road. A few rings from this bell would announce to all the beginning of classes or the end of recess or lunch period.
The Hudson Center School was built in 1908 as a replacement for the Smith School on Windham Road which had burned. Why this alternate site was selected rather than rebuilding on the original site is not entirely clear; but I suspect it had to to with the need for a reliable and safe water source. By the beginning of the school year 1908 this bell had been placed in the school tower where it would remain for over 65 years. The bell was given to the town by Henry C. Brown, a well known resident of Hudson Center. Mr. Brown served as Postmaster of the Hudson Center Post Office located in the train station which sat along side the tracks off Greeley Street and behind the Town Hall (not Wattannick Hall). His residence was on Kimball Hill Road opposite the Hudson Center Common and the Baptist Church. His house became part of the Benson Farm property and was demolished by the state prior to the town’s ownership.
From 1908 until 1956 students from the Hudson Center and even West Windham attended this two room school house for grades 1 thru 6. I myself remember attending grades 1-3 with Mrs. Marguarite Gilman as teacher; and then grades 4 and 5 with Miss Florence Parker. By my 6th year we were seeing the possibility of closing this school house due to small enrollment at Hudson Center and available space in the schools in the bridge area. I attended Webster School for the 6th grade and then on to Alvirne for grades 7 -12.
The old school closed in 1956 and remained unoccupied until mid 1970’s. By that time the property and school building were owned by Mr and Mrs Robert Thompson. In 1974 with the help of the Hudson Fire Department the bell was removed from the tower and placed in the bed of “Charlie” Parker’s pick-up truck. It was then transported by “Charlie” and his brother Eric to the Historical Society. The Society contracted with Adrien Labrie to construct the bell stand for $485.00. There the bell remains awaiting the occasional ringing by students or visitors to the grounds — especially during Old Home Days.