The farm homes and productive farm fields along Lowell Road, coupled with the street railroad (trolley) operating between Nashua and Lowell, bolstered a cottage industry of guest houses and country resorts along Lowell Road in Hudson during the early 1900’s. By 1895 the Lowell and Suburban Street Railway from Nashua was extended down Lowell Road to connect with the line at Lakeview in Tyngsborough. This provided inexpensive, pleasant, and relatively rapid public transportation from Nashua, through Hudson and on to Lowell and the Boston area. By 1913 this line was in its hayday and offered frequent travel daily along this route. Within a few years as more and more residents operated autos the use of the trolley diminished. Operating at a loss these lines were discontinued about 1931.
Some Hudson residents opened their homes as guest houses during the summer months; providing opportunities for city dwellers to spend vacation time where they could enjoy the rural, cooler farm life of Hudson and still have access to home and easy travel to Nashua, Manchester, and sites in the mountains. One such guest house “The Poplars” was operated by Mrs. Alfereta Joan (Batchelder) Dustin.
Alfereta was born in Hudson November 1853; her parents were Lydia (Steele) and Mark Batchelder. She married Washington Franklin Dustin of Antrim, NH February 1876 here in Hudson. They had three children, one of whom died young due to a heart condition. Sons Mark Willis and Carrol E. had families of their own; one family living near Boston and the other in western Massachusetts.
About 1900 Alfereta remodeled a house on the west side of Lowell Road which had been built by George Kuhn. She named it “The Poplars” and it became her residence and her place of business. She operated a summer guest house from about 1901 to 1910. “The Poplars” consisted of one acre of land with a two story house and an ell; 9 rooms, 2 piazzas, a grove of pines, and a small cottage which was called Camp Crescent. We at the Historical Society are fortunate to have this post card view of “The Poplars”. This postal was sent from Alfereta to one of her perspective boarders providing some details of her location and accommodations. By my research and research of others in the society I place “The Poplars” at or near 143 Lowell Road, just south of Fox Hollow Condominiums.
She was doing a flourishing business as early as 1903 and she continued in this business until 1909 and possible 1910. Her location was convenient to the trolly line thus providing transportation for her guests to/from Nashua, Lowell and even the Boston area. Guests would come to enjoy the cooler more rural setting for their vacation while still being accessible to sightseeing, entertainment, and their homes. The months of June, July, and August were the busiest. At one point in August 1906 there is a record of her having 20 and some days more persons registered at her guest house principally visiting from the Boston area and vicinity.
In 1911 Alfereta became ill and required mastoid surgery. She did not recover from this and passed July 1911. Her funeral service was held from her home “The Poplars” and she was laid to rest in Sunnyside Cemetery here in Hudson.
Following her death “The Poplars” was occupied by the family of William Hadley. In 1913 this family moved to Billerica and “The Poplars” was placed for sale at auction. After that it was owned by various families. At one point, about 1932, it was operated as a tearoom under the name of “The Green Lantern”.