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This building which began as a school house in Peterborough, NH was moved to Hudson in 1929. It was moved a second time in 1941 where it found a permanent use by our town Recreation Department until it was replaced in 1985.
In 1929 Hudson was in the midst of the depression and money was tight. Extensive repairs had been completed to the Webster school building as the result of the recent fire. These repairs placed the facility in a better condition than before the fire. Hudson’s total school enrollment was 457 students: 356 at Webster, 58 at Hudson Center, 23 at No. 1 District school at Musquash, and 20 at No 9 District on Derry Road (now Old Derry Road). Yes!! Two of our local district schools were still operating at that time. Also, there were almost 100 Hudson students who were attending private elementary schools. Despite the depression it was apparent to the school board that an additional classroom was needed at Webster. They were fortunate to locate an available portable school house from the district of Peterborough. This building was secured, moved to Hudson, and placed behind the Webster school house in time for the 1929 school year. This annex to Webster immediately acquired the nickname of the “portable”.
The “portable” served Hudson quite well. It provided a make-shift class room which could be used for any grade(s) until another school building and/or school room became available. One year the “portable” was used for grade 1 and grade 3. Another year, for example, for grade 2 and grade 3. And so it continued. The depression continued into the 1930’s. The school board continuously looked for ways to decrease the cost of the elementary grades. At the same time the number of students attending Nashua Junior and Senior High was increasing. In 1933 the No.1 school house was closed due to cost and enrollment. This saved the district over $800 but added to the congestion at Webster. This situation continued until Hudson obtained a federal grant and made plans for a Junior High school building. Land was purchased and The Hudson Junior High school was built on School Street at the corner of what is now First Street near Oakwood Street. In 1939 the junior high was completed and Hudson students in grades 7,8,9 were schooled there; thus reducing the tuition spent to Nashua. This also relieved the pressure at Webster and made possible the closing of the “portable”. At that time grades 1-6 attended either Webster or Hudson Center’ graded 7-9 attended Hudson Junior High, and grades 10-12 were tuition students at Nashua.
The “portable” was used as a Webster annex until the end of the 1938 school year; almost 10 years. At the School District meeting in March 1939 the “portable” building was made available to the youth of Hudson. A short time after the building was moved from the rear of Webster onto School District land at the corner of First Street and Oakwood Avenue. A Recreation Committee of 5 persons was formed and organized activities for the youth of Hudson during the weeks of school summer vacation began to take root.
By 1953 there were 300 children and teenagers participating in the 9 week schedule of supervised summer activities ranging from playground activities, little league, and crafts. One special event such as doll show, pet show, bicycle parade, father and son baseball, or a trip to Benson’s was scheduled for each week. These events were held at the Youth Center on Oakwood Street and area fields: the ball field behind the Junior High, tennis courts located at the Robinson playground on School Street, and the ball field at the corner of School and Library Streets. This last field is now the site of the Leonard Smith Fire Station. At the School District meeting March 1954 the so called “portable” lot at the intersection of First and Oakwood Streets was deeded by the School District deeded to the town of Hudson for use by the town Recreation Committee.
Our first photo shows the Youth Center aka the old “potable” facing Oakwook Street C 1975. This building remained in use through the summer program of 1984 at which time it was replaced as a project of the Lions Club. The new building was 2,160 square feet and contained a large meeting room, heating facilities, an office, and space for a kitchen. The Lions Club donated the cost of this building with the assistance of many tradesmen, suppliers, and individuals in town who worked on the project at or below cost. The building committee consisted of Alvin Rodgers, Gus Piantidosi, Richard Millard, and Phillip Rodgers as chairman. The keys to the new youth center were turned over to Recreation Commission Chairman Paul Hamilton and Selectman John Bednar who thanked the Lions for their contribution to the community. While making this presentation Lions Club President Roger Latulippe stated that the new recreation building was donated to the town and its citizens as a token of gratitude for the many years of support shown to the club. Credit was specifically given to Paul Dawkins who wired the building at no cost and to the Snowmen snowmobile club who hung sheetrock at no cost.
Our second photo shows the Rec Center at it appears in 2019. Under the direction of Dave Yates, Recreation Director our recreation department now includes activities at this location plus the facilities at Robinson Pond, the playground and ball field at Hudson Center, activities at the Community Center (previously Lions Hall), senior services at the North Barn, and numerous ball fields and playground distributed through town. The 1975 photo is from the collection at the historical society. The current photo was taken by the author.
Every once in a while we come upon a photo which tells it’s own story. In many ways this C 1922 photo of the World War I Memorial at Library Park is one of those photos. Library Park, that beautifully maintained triangular park bounded by Ferry, Derry, and Library streets was a gift to the Town of Hudson by Mary Field Creutzborg and the efforts of her son-in-law Dr. Alfred Hills. There is a granite boulder with a tablet at the park near the intersection of Ferry and Derry Streets The tablet reads: LIBRARY PARK – The gift of Mary Field Creutzborg 1911. Just prior to 1911, this parcel of land was owned by parties living in Nashua. It was sub-divided it into eleven house lots and offered for sale. Two had been sold and a house was being erected on one of them. The residents of Hudson were beginning to realize that a potential of eleven houses in that area would be of no real value. There had been earlier discussion about acquiring the land for a public park; but, no action had been taken. A special town meeting was called May 15, 1911 to see if the town would authorize the Selectmen to acquire this land by eminent domain for the purpose of a public park. Dr Hills offered a resolution: that the Selectmen be authorized to acquire the property for a public park, to be known as Library Park, at no expense to the town. The resolution passed unanimously. The owner of the house under construction was compensated with a much larger lot in a more desirable location.
The First World War began in Europe during July 1914 and for the first years the United States had a policy of non-involvement. After the sinking of the Lusitania and the killing of some 190 Americans and later attacks on US ships, the United Stated declared war on Germany April 1917. The Armistice which lead to the end of conflicts was signed November 11, 1918.
Between 1917 and 1919 some 71 young men from Hudson were engaged in the Armed Forces. A listing of these servicemen was maintained by historian Julia (Webster) Robinson. At the town meeting in March 1920 the town voted to construct a tablet to honor these men and by early 1922 this granite boulder and attached bronze tablet was placed on Library Park by at a cost of $977.65 to the town. The Dunklee Construction Co. was paid $647 to move this huge boulder onto the park and place it on a foundation. The Hillsborough Granite Co. was paid $30 to cut and shape the boulder for the bronze tablet. The William Highton & Sons Co, was paid $300 for the bronze tablet and setting it into the stone.
Of these 71 service men 3 lost their lives during the conflict. On June 25, 1922 three newly planted trees were formally designated as memorials to these three young men who paid the supreme sacrifice in the World War; a bronze marker was set at the base of each of these trees. These trees were a gift of a local member of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) Chapter. The dedication ceremony was shared between the GAR and the Town of Hudson. The three servicemen memorialized by these trees were Pvt. Leland H. Woods, Pvt. Carlton L. Petry, and Pvt. Harold M. Spalding.
Leland H. Woods was born February 1897 in Hollis, NH. His parents were Frank A. and Cora Anna Woods. Frank was employed as a brakeman for the Boston and Maine Railroad. Leland registered for the draft in Townsend, MA and entered the US Army via the draft board in Nashua. His death in February 1919 at Coblenz, Germany was the result of disease. He was laid to rest in the Hillside Cemetery, Townsend, MA.
Carlton L. Petry was born November 1888 in New York City. His parents were Alfred and Louisa Petry. When Carlton registered for the draft he was living in Hudson and employed as a farm worker by Paul Butter. He was killed in action while serving in France.
Harold M. Spalding was born July 1889 in Hudson. His parents were Charles Laton and Sarah (Merrill) Spalding. When Harold registered for the draft at the age of 27 he was employed as a locomotive fireman for the New England Gas and Coke Co, in Everett, MA. He passed away February 1919 at Noyems Loiset Cher, France. He was laid to rest in Sunnyside Cemetery here in Hudson.
This photo of the WW I memorial is the earliest I have seen of Library Park; being completely open, uncultivated, and with no landscaping. The pre-civil war cannon which we see there today was not placed at Library Park until May 1929. Looking beyond the boulder to the left we see the home of Harry Kendrik House (also knows as the G. O. Sanders and Lenny Smith House). Noticeable is the spire on the ell of this great victorial home. To the right of the boulder we see homes along Derry Road beyond what is now French Insurance Agency.
In sharp contrast to Library Park of 1922 our second photo was taken this past week from about the same location. You may ask Where are the memorial trees which were planted in 1922 as a memorial to Privates Woods, Petry, and Spalding? We have searched the park for the specific trees with the memorial markers, but these specific trees and their markers could not be located.
You are encouraged to keep your eyes open for changes comming to Library Park a couple of weeks prior to Memorial Day. This park will become the site of “Field of Honor” at Hudson Library Park. This is a local effort sponsored by the Hudson American Legion, Post #48 which offers area residents an opportunity to honor military veterans and first responders. A flag with the name of each honoree will be flying at Hudson’s Field of Honor until June 14th, Flag Day.
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.
Located on Highland Street the Merrimack Valley Co-operative Creamery existed from about September 1891 until September 1898. The co-op was started by members of the Hills family and other residents of Hudson and Nashua; most of whom had roots to homesteads along what is now Derry and Old Derry Roads. Some of the folks in Hudson know of the creamery’s existence but do not know the details. Today we will look into the story behind the creamery and the connection with the families of Alfred K. Hills, Justin E. Hill, and Charles E. Spalding.
Alfred K. Hills and his first cousin Justin E. Hill were natives of Hudson. Alfred was born in 1840 to Alden and Nancy (Kimball) Hills; he grew up on his ancestral farm which is now the Alvirne High School farm. Justin was born in 1844 to Warren and Mary (Chase) Hill; he grew up on his family’s farm located on what is now Old Derry Road. After the 1860’s Justin was a business man living in Nashua. It is noted that Warren had his name changed from Hills to Hill by act of NH Legislature in July 1846. Alfred married Martha Simmons and attended Harvard Medical school, after which he established a medical practice in New York. By 1887 Martha had passed and he was married a second time to Ida Virginia Creutzborg. Dr. Hills had a strong bond with his home town; a feeling his wife Ida Virginia soon shared. By 1890 they purchased the family homestead and built a summer home, which they called Alvirne, on the premise. In addition to his medical practice in New York he retained an interest in the family farm in Hudson; hiring a farm manager to oversee it’s operation.
Charles W. Spalding was born in Hudson to Willard and Sally (Marsh) in 1835; he grew up on his family’s farm located on the west side of Derry Road near Grand Avenue near the location of the present Continental Academia of Hair Design.
Between 1878 and 1886 there were three significant inventions in the dairy industry. The first of these was the continuous centrifugal cream separator invented in 1878. This machine was used to separate the cream from the whole milk; leaving cream for commercial use to make butter. This process left skimmed milk as a by-product. In the early years skimmed milk was not popular for human consumption and it was used as a supplement for growing and fattening pigs. The second invention occurred in 1884 with the invention of the milk bottle; the third occurred 2 years later when the automatic bottle filler and caper was patented. Together these three inventions would aid the formation of a co-op creamery.
By September of 1891 the Merrimack Valley Co-operative Creamery Association of Hudson was established and they had purchased land on Barrett Hill Road (now Highland Street) from Nellie and James Cummings of Nashua for $300. At the annual meeting of the co-op in September 1892 the outlook was encouraging and the creamery was ready for farmers to bring in their cream for processing. This established the build date of the 26 Highland Street property as 1982.
In September 1893 minutes of the next annual meeting of the creamery were reported in the Nashua Daily Telegraph. From these we learn of the success and challenges of the corporation. After being in business for two years they were beginning to see signs of progress. Local farmers were coming on board as patrons and the creamery was able to make butter on a paying basis and to the satisfaction of the consumer and with good profits for the creamery and the local farmers. They were confident of an increase in the supply of cream as more farmers wold come on board as patrons. Production of the creamery had increased and the board of directors was confident of continued growth. On the other hand there was concern that the dairy farmers were not supporting the co-operative as they should. Perhaps they lacked confidence in the organization. At this annual meeting we find the following local individuals as corporate officers: Justin E. Hill, President; Dr. Alfred k. Hills, Vice-President, Walter B. Chase, Secretary; Charles B. Spalding, Treasurer; Daniel Boyd, Auditor. The Board of Directors was Justin E. Hill, Alfred K. Hills, Walter B. Chase, Charles W. Spalding, Hon. W.N. Beasom, H.G. Bixby and Daniel Boyd.
Within a few years, by September 1897, at a meeting requested by a number of stockholders, it was clear that the creamery was having difficulty sustaining itself. The call to the meeting included a request to consider the advisability of selling and disposing of the property of the association and winding up its affairs. On September 15, 1898, by vote of the stockholders, the board of directors disposed of the property and equipment of the co-op. The creamery parcel and building was sold to Alfred K. Hills of New York. The deed was signed by Justin E. Hill and Charles W. Spalding on behalf of the creamery.
Dr. Hills converted the creamery into a tenement house and continued to own it until July 1919 at which time it was sold to Herbert L. Boynton. Mr. Boynton was a native of Maine then living in Hudson and employed by the Nashua Street Railway in the power house on Lowell Road. Mr. Boynton retained ownership of the property until October 1923 when he sold it to Raymond L. and his brother Frederick R. House of Hudson. Frederick (Fred) House passed in 1940 and his widow Helen House transferred her interest in the property to Raymond.
In January 1955 a subdivision plan was created by Ned Spaulding, Civil Engineer, resulting in a ‘creamery parcel’ and three additional land parcels. By November 1961 Ray House sold the creamery parcel to Elwin R. Moss of Nashua. Since 1961 ownership of the ‘creamery parcel’ has been transferred a few times. It is now owned by a Realty Trust; a 12 room building of 4 units on .455 acres.
Among the artifacts in the collection of the Historical Society is a half-pint cream bottle embossed with the word ALVIRNE. I would like to think that this bottle was used in the creamery to contain cream from the cows at Alvirne Farm! The 1975 photo of the Creamery was taken by the author and is a part of the photo collection at the Historical Society. My thanks to Dick Crosby for his help with the deed research for 26 Highland Street.
Last week as I drove south on Derry Road and passed Library Park I noticed crew from our Highway Department placing the toy soldiers on the north corner of the park. As I continued on my way to my appointment in Nashua I recalled some of the history behind these and other decorations on the park. Perhaps it is no surprise how much these decorations are intermixed with Arthur Provencher and his vision to develop Benson’s Animal Park into a theme park,
Each of these painted wooden soldiers stand 12 feet tall and they delight the holiday spirit in each of us with their red and blue uniforms with yellow diamond-shaped buttons. With their white belts they stand at parade rest with their bayonet-tipped rifles at their side. Each has the same plumed hat and facial expression. They can stand in any order but the soldier holding the flag should be in the center.
So you ask: What does all this have to do with Bensons Park? During the Christmas seasons of 1980 and 1981 Arthur Provencher, then owner of Benson’s Animal Park, decorated his park with hundreds of thousands of lights and decorations for the holiday season. These wooden toy soldiers were a part of that display. Even though some 35,000 came to enjoy these sights and activities, that elusive break even point could not be reached. His “Christmas in New England” lasted for only a few years. The tradition of holiday decorations at Library Park was started by Mr. Provencher as a way of advertising the holiday events at Benson’s Animal Park. Over time this tradition was continued by the town. The five toy soldiers were purchased by the Chamber of Commerce and donated to Hudson with a plaque “Dedicated to people of Hudson by the Hudson Chamber of Commerce December 1995. Our first photo shows a brochure, complete with a coupon of 50 cents, used by Mr. Provencher to advertise his ‘Christmas in New England” tradition during the 1891 season.
As time progressed the soldiers were in need of repairs and paint. In February 2004 the soldiers were delivered to the wood shop at Alvirne High School where, under the direction of John Conrad, the Building Trades class repaired and painted the soldiers. When completed they were stored by the Highway Department for use in many seasons to come. Our second photo shows the five toy soldiers standing guard over the 2018 holiday season at the north end of Library Park.
Another remnant of Benson’s is the traditional nativity scene tucked away behind Plexiglas in the old town trolley stop. This stop once provided a waiting place for travelers using the electric railroad from Nashua, through Hudson, to Hudson Center and on to Pelham. During the holiday season the stop is used to house the creche from Benson’s. The Christmas in New England brochure is a part of the Benson’s documentation at the Historical Society. The 2018 photo was taken by the author.