We watch with curiosity at the site work near 77 Central Street and 10 Lowell Road as Sousa Realty and Development prepares this section of town future development. Today we revisit the March 12, 2015 article and this area as photographed in the 1960’s.
In this c1960 aerial photo of Lowell Road and Central Street there are no signs of the traffic or of the traffic lights of today. Central Street runs horizontally along the middle of the photo with Lowell Road coming down towards the right. Just above this intersection is Hurley Street which appears as an unpaved road. In the upper left is the Lions Club Community swimming pool between Library and Hurley Streets. This pool operated between 1954 and 1968, at which time increased operating costs required it be closed. The overpass for the B&M Railroad right of way crossed Lowell Road and proceeded along Central Street towards Hudson Center. The tracks and metal connected with this overpass were removed for scrap metal in 1942; but, the abutments on either side of Lowell Road remained into the 1950’s. By the time of this photo, these abutments had also been removed. The triangular piece of land at the intersection of Central and Lowell is now Hammond Park, The Fire Department Memorial. It is interesting to see the open space around many of the homes with their family or community gardens. I would like to hear from any of our readers who can add to the detail to help date this photo. If you have any ideas please send email to my attention at HudsonHistorical@live.com Photo was donated to the society by the family of Leon and Gerri Hammond.
In the early 1930’s Hudson students were educated in Webster (grades 1-8) and Hudson Center (grades 1-6) schools. For grades 9-12 they attended Nashua High school and out town paid the tuition. The per pupil cost for grades 1-8 in 1935 was about $52.00; tuition to Nashua High was about $101.00 per student with about 130 students attending. Hudson’s annual school budget for grades 1-8 was $28,110 of which $15,975 was for salaries; the remainder was text books, supplies, transportation, janitor, and utilities. The cost for tuition to Nashua was $15,150. Nashua was entertaining the concept of a 6-3-3 plan which would require Hudson students to make two adjustments. The first to a Junior High for grade 9 the second to the High School for grades 9-12.
The depression hit Hudson and our schools in full force. Budgets were submitted in light of these economics. The school administration did not feel they could push for a land purchase or a building program for a new school. Then Nashua postponed the implementation of the 9-3-3 plan because of the depression. So our own building program became less of a problem.
Enrollment at Webster School was at a maximum. A portable classroom called ‘The Portable’ was used at Webster for extra students in grades 3 and 4; also a classroom was established at the IOOF building (now the American Legion) for grades and 5 and 6. With these issues in mind and the increasing cost of tuition to Nashua schools, Hudson voters were asked to consider the construction of a high school or a junior high school.
Warrant articles for an additional school began as early as March 1935; including one in 1937 to build using money from the A.K. Hills Estate. None of these early attempts were approved. In 1938 it did became possible to build a long needed junior high school. Federal funds were available under the Public Works Administration (PWA) which could be used for materials and labor. Plans and justifications for a proposed building were put in place and submitted for a grant. Upon approval of the grant a special school district meeting was held on the Odd Fellows building August 1938 to accept a grant of $38,250 from PWA. Newspaper accounts reported it as a lively meeting. The grant was accepted. The junior high would consist of 6 classrooms, an auditorium-gym, manual and domestic arts, an office, and a large study room. Total cost $85,000 including price of a land located on School and First Street for which the school district had an option. The district meeting also approved a bond issue of $46,670 to complete the payment of the school.
The school opened September 1939 and was formerly dedicated November 7, 1939, Members of the building committee were Herbert Canfield, Mrs. Ida Gatz, Robert Hardy, Reuben Groves, Amedee Paul, Louis Spalding, and Mildred Fuller. Dr. H.O. Smith, well known physician and 24 year member of the School Board, spoke at the dedication. His topic was the educational history of Hudson dating into the 1700’s. In June 1940 a group of citizens donated a portrait of Dr. Smith. This portrait hangs in the upper hallway to this day.
With the completion of the junior High overflow classes in the IOOF Building and ‘The Portables’ were no longer needed. These classes returned to Webster. The Portables, along with a piece of land on Oakwood between First and Second Streets were made available to the town recreation department.
The Hudson Junior High remained in use with grades 10-12 attending Nashua High until the completion of Alvirne as a Junior/Senior High School in 1950. At which time Hudson students completed high school in their home town. After the completion of Alvirne High School the junior high building was renamed and re-dedicated as the Dr. H.O. Smith Elementary School in 1950. Grades 1-3 occupied that school with grades 4-6 at Webster.
Expansion was again necessary and in 1956 the H.O.Smith annex on the west side of the building was approved by the voters. Today, with 80 years of service, this building is an integral part of the campus for Hudson’s Early Learning Center. Our photo shows the Dr. H.O. Smith Elementary School c1976 as photographed for the Town In Transition.
This is one of the most popular post cards of Hudson.
From this early post card of Webster School, Hills Memorial Library, and the surrounding area we get an idea of what this section of town looked like about 1910. Kimball Webster School (right) had been in use since it’s completion in 1896. The new Hills Memorial Library (left) was completed in 1908. The photo for this post card was taken from an open field across the street from Webster School at the corner of School and Library Streets. In fact, what is now Library Street was barely a dirt road in this picture. One can locate the road by following the utility pole. An 1892 map of Hudson shows an ice house where the Hills Library is located and what is now Library Street was called Sanders Street.
Looking beyond these buildings and along Ferry Street we see very little construction. On Ferry Street and opposite the library is the home at what is now 42 Ferry Street; known by many as the Cunningham home and now owned by Kurt Smith. On the knoll behind the library and the school we see another early home; most likely the home at what is now 55 Ferry Street.
Today this open field is the site of the Leonard Smith Fire Station and the Town Office Building; built in the the 1950’s and 1960s respectively. Before these buildings this field was a popular playground; used during pre-school,recess, and after school activities for Webster School. During the spring and summer months this field was used by the Recreation Department for a ball field, basketball court, and playground for the younger kids. As a point of memory, Hudson resident Dan O’Brien has fond memories of little league games played here, as early as 1950 or 51,under the direction of Manager Brown. These may have been some of the earliest little league games in Hudson. The year construction was underway for the new fire station Dan recalls breaking a window in the station while throwing rocks. Yes! He was busted by Chief Andy Polak. In Andy’s way all he did was report Dan to his parents. But, that was enough! Photo from the Historical Society collection.
Where could you stand and have one foot in Hudson and one in Nashua? Many folks remember walking along the sidewalk of the concrete bridge (north side of the bridge); halfway across we would see this pink granite marker commemorating the building of the bridge and identifying the principals from Nashua and Hudson who served on a joint committee to oversee the construction of the bridge in 1910. Turning to face the plaque one could easily stand so as to have one foot in each municipality!
Prior to 1910 the bridge between Nashua and Hudson was an iron bridge built in 1882. At that time there were no electric cars (trolleys) crossing between the two villages. In 1895 the bridge was strengthened in order to allow electric cars in addition to horse drawn vehicles to use this bridge. By 1909 safety of the bridge became an issue; especially in regard to the weight of the trolleys which was now twice the weight previously planned for. The bridge was deemed unsafe by two different engineers. An article in the 1910 town warrant to replace the iron bridge with a new steel bridge was indefinitely postponed. The recently elected Board of Selectmen, Jesse S. Wesson, George N. Dooley, and Guy A. Hopkins were authorized to confer with managers of the street railway and representatives from Nashua to decide what should be done.
By May 1910 the plans were revised to build a bridge of reinforced concrete, consisting of 5 arches with 4 piers in the river and abutments at each end. A special town meeting was called and this plan was voted on: 194 votes cast with 192 in favor!! The three recently elected selectmen along with Kimball Webster and Nathaniel Wentworth were authorized to serve on a joint committee with the Mayor of Nashua and members of the Nashua public works department. The committee acted promptly; by June a contract was signed with Fred T. Ley and Co. of Springfield, MA. The bridge was 36 feet wide plus a 6 foot raised sidewalk on the north side. Construction proceeded quickly and the first horse drawn vehicle crossed the new bridge on November 17. A few days later on November 23 the first electric car was able to cross into Hudson on the new bridge. Work was soon completed on the bridge except for the need of additional reinforcement of pier #4 which was completed in 1912. The final meeting of the joint committee was held at the Nashua City Hall October 13, 1912. The final payment was made to the construction company. The total cost was $74,480. The only remaining issue was how to apportion this cost between the two communities. The photo of an early trolley on the new concrete bridge into Hudson was taken from the roof of the Old Baker building. This photo is part of our Historical Society collection, complements of Don Himsel.
This concrete bridge remained in service until 1971, despite repairs and work on the pilings to prolong it’s usefulness, when it was destroyed to allow for the construction of the present southern span. Just prior to the destruction of the bridge this granite marker was removed and placed on display at the Historical Society.
I have not heard or read of any particular dedication of this bridge; nor to I know exactly when the pink granite plaque identifying the names of the individuals on the joint bridge committee. Let’s look at who represented Hudson on this committee. First the three selectmen: Jesse Weston, George N. Dooley, and Guy A. Hopkins.
Jesse Weston was born February 1862 in Nashua; moving to Hudson about 1880. He married Agnes Willoughby in Nashua June 1891. While in Hudson he lived on Barretts Hill and worked as a mason. He served as a selectman and Representative to General Court. After the bridge was completed he returned to Nashua where he was employed as a foreman for Osgood Construction Co. and later engaged in the contracting business as Weston and Could. He passed in April 1941 and was buried in Nashua’s Woodlawn Cemetery.
George N Dooley was a Hudson native who owned and operated a farm on Old Derry Road previously owned by his father, Stephen. Father and son were active in town affairs. Each served as selectman and in the state legislature. George and his wife Ella (Hadley) Dooley had 4 sons. George N. passed in 1928 at the age of 57 from complications resulting from a farm accident.
Guy Hopkins, a bookkeeper, moved to Hudson from Nashua sometime between 1880 and 1909. He lived on the Lowell Road near Wason Road and continued to work as a bookkeeper in Nashua. While in Hudson he served as a selectman and on the joint bridge committee. He returned to Nashua about 1920.
Born in December 1843 in MA, Nathaniel Wentworth, enlisted with the 1st Mass Calvary in 1864 at the age of 21 and was discharged about a year later. He married Edwina Greeley in May 1870 and soon thereafter moved to Hudson. He spent most, if not all, of his remaining 53 years living in Hudson Center on Greeley street near the railroad depot. As a young man we was a mason, later he became the fish and game commissioner; a position he held for many years. He was active in town affairs; serving on the committee to build the D.O. Smith School in 1896. Later, after that school was destroyed by fire, he served on the committee to build it’s replacement. the Hudson Center School. In 1910 he was selected to serve on the joint committee between Nashua and Hudson to build the concrete Taylor Falls Bridge. He passed August 1923 and is burried in Westview Cemetery in Hudson Center.
Kimball Webster was born in Pelham November 1828; grow up on a farm he was used to hard work. In April 1849 at the age of 20 he left home and traveled to Independence, MO. There he joined a company of 28 men fitted out with pack mules and horses. He traveled over the trail to California in pursuit of the great gold discovery. He worked the mines for a while and then traveled to the territory of Oregon where he began a career as a land surveyor; first with public lands and later as an employee of the railroad. Mr. Webster married Abiah Cutter of Pelham and they settled on a portion of his grandfather’s farm in Hudson. Their adult family consisted of 5 daughters each of whom married and remained in the Hudson/Nashua area. Kimball had an extensive career as a surveyor, civil engineer, Justice of the Peace, writer, and historian. We are reminded daily of the contribution his ‘History of Hudson, NH’ has made to our knowledge of our past.
Researched and written by Ruth Parker. This article was published in the HLN on February 2, 2019 and as a revisit in the Nashua Telegraph on April 19, 2020