The Cumming Brothers began their business in 1882 as a blacksmith and wheelwright shop, later expanding to the manufacture of carriages. With the advent of the auto they transitioned to building truck bodies. This building at what is now 15 Central Street was built about 1930 as a garage and repair shop for their business. In 1950, after the business closed, it was sold to C&R furniture of Nashua and used by them for a warehouse for several years. In 2017, after remaining idle for some time, this 21/2 story wood frame building was purchased by Peter DeSalvo and has been remodeled both inside and out to current building codes. This building will soon be used for the headquarters for the Peter DeSalvo Construction Company. Lets explore the history surrounding this location.
The Cummings Brothers was not the first business on this site nor was it the first blacksmith in Hudson Village near the bridge. About 1842 James Carnes moved to Hudson from Henniker, NH and built his home at the corner of Main Street (now Ferry Street) and Lowell Road (now Central Street) using materials from the old South Meeting house which was located near Blodgett Cemetery on Lowell Road. Using additional materials from the old meeting house he built a store building on the opposite side of Central Street and uphill from his home. He operated a grocery store for some years with little success. About 1851 he closed the grocery and immediately began to manufacture wheelbarrows; later he changed the business to a wheelwright. Unfortunately, by 1859 this building with all contents and tools was destroyed by fire. Mr. Carnes rebuilt re-established the wheelwright business.
In 1882, Willis P. Cummings purchased the shop, tools, and business from James Carnes. He and his younger brother Charles E. became partners in the Cumming Brothers. This was the beginning of a business which expanded and changed with the times until sometime after 1946.
Willis was 32 years of age when he partnered with his 19 year old brother in 1882. He was born 1850 in Lowell, MA the oldest son and child of Hiram and Abby (Clark) Cummings. He came to Hudson at the age of 6 with his parents. He was educated in public schools of Lowell, Hudson, and later at the Nashua Literary Institute.
In 1869, when he was nearly 20 years of age and soon after the completion of the railroad to the Pacific Coast, he went to California to assist his uncle with the supervision of his herd of 10,000 sheep! Willis remained for 2 years and then returned home; after which he established a carpenter and building business at North Chelmsford, MA. In 1873 he married Hattie D. Lawrence, daughter of Hartwell and Sarah (Blood). Their daughter Bertha Ella was born 1875. He moved his family to Hudson in 1876. Meanwhile his uncle in California passed away. At the request of the executor he returned to California in 1877 to assist with settlement of the estate. He returned to Hudson after 3 months.
In 1885 his wife Hattie passed and he married a second time in 1885 to Francis M. Clement. Willis continued with his building business until September 1880 when he established a wheelwright and carriage business near the bridge in Hudson. Then in 1881 he and his younger brother Charles became partners and purchased the wheelwright shop, tools, and lot from James Carnes.
From 1881 until the mid 1940’s the Cumming Brothers operated in Hudson Village; first as a blacksmith and wheelwright and expanding to a carriage manufacturer. When the automobile became of age the business transitioned to the manufacture of truck bodies. Willis P. passed in June 1939 at which time he was the holder of the gold headed Boston Post Cane as the oldest male resident of Hudson. He was particularly proud of this as his father Hiram, some years earlier also held the cane. Following his passing his daughter Bertha (Cummings) Nokes became active along with her uncle, Charles, in the management of the business. Poor health forced Charles to retire from the business in the early 1940’s. By 1948 the Cumming Brothers was no longer in business and in December 1950 the land and buildings of 15 Central was sold to C&R furniture of Nashua. Charles passed in February 1953
C&R Furniture was a three generation, family owned business of the Hebert family with a retail store on Elm Street in Nahsua. They used this building as a warehouse. In 1954 the Hudson Community Church had plans to build a parish house on property they owned between their present building and the driveway to the C&R warehouse. C&R sold a triangular piece of land of about 980 square feet which enabled them to erect the parish house. C&R retained to right to pass over by foot or vehicle, any portion of this piece not used by the church.
Our first photo of the warehouse was taken about 1975.. The building could be entered from the driveway into the first floor. It was also possible to enter the building via a bridge from the high point of the driveway into the second floor.
In March 2017, after a number of years of no-use, the old C&R warehouse was sold by the Herbert family to Peter Desalvo. Since that time the building and driveway have undergone extensive modifications to meet current building codes. Basement walls were restored, original beams were retained but structurally enhanced. The interior has been reconfigured to include a reception area, conference room, office space, and a break room for the employees. The exterior has a new roof, dormers, windows, and siding; all with low maintenance in mind.
In recognition of his this project to retrofit and re-purpose this facility of the past, Peter DeSalvo was the recipient of the Third Annual Hudson Historical Society Community and Cultural Service Award. This award was presented to Peter during the Annual Charity Auction to benefit the Historical Society held at the Hills House grounds this past Sunday June 24. Peter and his workmen can be justly proud of the transformation to this building. Desalvo Construction recently passed their 10th anniversary. Peter and his young family reside in Hudson. Our second photo, complements of Zach Piotrowicz (ZMP Photography) shows the 15 Central Street property soon to be home to Peter Desalvo Construction.