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Hudson’s western boundary is marked by a delightful section of the Merrimack River; stretching from Litchfield on the north, some 6.5 miles south to the state line with Ma. River crossings to Nashua occur at the Sagamore Bridge at the south near Walmart and at the Taylor’s Falls Bridge and Veterans Memorial Bridge near the Nashua River. There has been a Taylor’s Falls Bridge in this area since 1811. Initially a wooden toll bridge, then an iron bridge, a concrete bridge, and now the southern bridge of the twin span which dates to the 1970’s. So, the question is: Where were the Taylor Falls and what became of them?
The Pawtucket Falls in the Merrimack River at Lowell, MA was an important fishing ground for the Pennacook Indians during the pre-colonial times. “Pawtucket” is an Algonkian word meaning “at the falls in the river”. These falls were a barrier to commercial travel along the river to the early settlers, leading to the construction of the canal in the late 1700’s. In order to maximize the hydro-power and control the flow to the canal, a dam was built at the top of the falls in 1820 and expanded in 1840. The final structure exists in much to same form today, consisting of a stone dam topped with five foot wooded flash boards, This dam had the effect of raising the level of the river some 8 feet near the dam to 4 feet as far north as Cromwell Falls in Merrimack; eliminating any falls or rapids in the river from Lowell to Litchfield/Merrimack.
Besides the Pawtucket Falls there were three sets of rapids or waterfalls of significance to the early settlers; The Wicasuck Falls in Tyngsboro, the Taylor’s Falls in Hudson, and Cromwell’s Falls in Merrimack. The building of the Pawtucket Dam displaced each of these falls.
The Wicasuck Falls were about 4 miles north of Pawtucket where the river swept around a considerable island of the same name. This offered good fishing for the Indians and early settlers. The island played a significant part during King Philip’s War when Captain Jonathan Tyng “overlooked” a party of praying Indians that lived on this island for some 10 years thus keeping them out of the strife. In consideration of this the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony granted this island to him in December 1693, It became known as Tyng’s Inland.
A series of rapids known as Taylor’s Falls were located some 8 miles north of Tyng’s Island and one mile south of the junction of the Nashua and the Merrimack Rivers which is located just north of the Taylor’s Falls Bridge; placing them a little over 1/2 mile below the bridge. John Taylor built a garrison on that part of the Joseph Hills grant that was deeded to Gershom Hills and later the Charles W. Spalding farm. This garrison was built behind the house toward the river. The Spalding farm house is now the site of Continental Academie on Derry Road. Little is known of this John Taylor except that the Taylor’s falls were most likely named for him and clearly the Taylor’s Falls Bridge was name for the falls.
Joseph Cromwell was an early fur trader in Old Dunstable on the Merrimack side of the river. The site of his trading post is identified by a marker between the Anheuser-Bush brewery and the Clydesdale Hamblet in Merrimack. Cromwell Falls was visited by Henry David Thorreau and his brother John in September 1839 and this visit chronicled in his book “A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers”. In this book he stated that the Cromwell Falls were the first falls they met while traveling on the Merrimack; thus indicating that the river level had been raised by that date.
Today the smooth surface of the Merrimack gives no indication of the underlaying rapids and falls were eliminated between Pawtuck and Cromwell Falls. Most of the information in this brief article is from Webster’s History of Hudson. The photo of the Taylor’s Falls bridge in moonlight is from a post card within the collection of the Hudson Historical Society. Researched and written by Ruth Parker. This story was printed in the Nashua Telegraph April 5, 2020.
Baker Street was laid out July 23, 1889 on land owned or previously owned by Kimball Webster. This street went from Main Street (now Ferry Street) near Derry Road and proceeded northward to land set aside for the Methodist Church parsonage and then eastward to Derry Road (now a part of Highland Street). By 1892 when the Hurd Atlas of New Hampshire towns was published there were only four houses on Baker Street; corresponding to 4, 6, 8, and 10 Baker Street of today. Each of these four homes were built between 1889 and 1892 by/for John H. Baker, Ezra A. Martin, Gerry Walker, and Abi A. Sanders restively. . A short time after 1892 a house was built on what is now 12 Baker Street and land at 13 Baker Street (now the corner with Highland Avenue) had been designated as the site of Methodist Church parsonage, replacing their parsonage which was destroyed by fire on Central Street a few years earlier.
Lovisa Underwood (Webster) and John Henry Baker moved from the Pembroke, NH area between 1856 and 1858 with their son John Julian. A daughter Mittie and a son William Wallace were later born in Hudson. John Henry was a stone cutter and a farmer. In October 1888 he purchased a 22,800 square foot lot from his brother-in-law, Kimball Webster. This lot was located near Derry Road on a proposed street to be named Baker Street. His Victorian style home was the first to be built on that street and it became the family home for 3 generations of Bakers. John Henry lived here for the duration of his life; passing in January 1916. His wife, Lovisa pre-deceased him in March 1900. They were laid to rest in Sunnyside Cemetery. This house became home to siblings Mittie and John Julian. Their other sibling, William Wallace, also resided here until his marriage to Sarah Lee Oldell in December 1899 about which time he secured the lot at 6 Baker Street.
After receiving their education John Jullian and William Wallace each spent a few years working for their uncle, Nathan Webster, in his grocery and grain business on Central Street. In 1890 these brothers became business partners as they took over the operation and ownership of the store.
John Julian passed in February 1942 at the age of 89 and Mittie passed in July 1949 at the age of 89. After settling the estate of Mittie Baker title for the home at 4 Baker Street went to her nephew, John Earl. John Earl lived there until August 1965 when the home was sold outside the Baker family to Fred and Hazel Felber. who owned it for 28 years until it was sold from her estate in 1993. In the intervening 26 years to the present time this property had had 3 owners. At the present time it is a 3 family complex.
The first home at 6 Baker Street was built by Ezra A. Martin about 1889 and unfortunately destroyed by fire by in 1890. There is no evidence he rebuilt as the lot was taken over by William Wallace Baker and he built his own residence there in 1899. From this home William Wallace and Sarah (Oldall) Baker raised their family of 3 sons; John Earl (B:1901), Sidney (B:1902), and Walace Grant (B:1907). William Wallace and Sarah continued to reside here. He passed in December 1932 and by October 1941 the house was purchased by James and Ethel Hopwood. James was employed in Wilton, NH and Ethel was teacher in the Hudson School System; teaching primarily at Webster School. By the mid 1950’s they had retired. The Baker Street house was then sold to George A. Fuller and Roland Levesque in November 1961. It was converted to a multi-family residence and has since been owned by members of the Cassavaugh Family and now by Alexander Croker.
Our first photo is from an early 1900 post card of the John Henry residence. The second shows the William Wallace home decorated for the 1933 town bi-centennial. Researched and written by Ruth Parker and published May 3, 2020 in Nashua Telegraph.
This is the first of two articles recalling the family of John Henry Baker and the ‘laying out’ and early development of Baker Street. This week we look at the descendants of John Henry and some of the contributions they made to our town.
John Henry was the first Baker of this line to move to Hudson. He was born in Manchester, NH November 1822 to Jesse and Sally (Howard) Baker. Jesse was a stone mason and a farmer and he resided in a number of places including Pelham, Windham, Manchester, and lastly Hudson.
By December 1846 John Henry married Lovisa Underwood Webster in Hudson. She was born in Pelham January 1824 a daughter of John and Hannah (Cummings) Webster and a sister to Nathan, Moses, and Kimball Webster. At the time of their marriage he was living in the Manchester area and after their marriage they remained until some time between 1856 and 1859. Like his father John Henry was a stone cutter. John and Livisa had two sons and two daughters. Their first child, Ida Ella, was born in Pembroke September 1853 and passed before her second birthday. Their second child, John Julian, was born in Pembroke August 1856. The remainder of their family was born in Hudson; a daughter Mittie born December 1859 and a son William Wallace born September 1865. After moving to Hudson John Henry continued his occupation as a stone cutter. In 1863 he registered for the Civil War draft as a stone cutter. By 1870 he was listed as a farmer. He attended the Methodist Episcopal Church here in Hudson and was on the committee to build the brick church in 1880 after fire had destroyed the church and parsonage on Central Street near Melendy Road. John Henry lived out the remainder of his 93 years as a farmer in Hudson. He passed in January 1916 and was laid to rest in Sunnyside Cemetery.
After moving to Hudson with his parents as a young child John Julian received his early education in the local district school, perhaps attending school at #8 District on Derry Road. His higher education was at the Nashua Literary Institution and Pembroke Academy. In 1876, at the age of 20, he began working for his uncle, Nathan Webster, as a clerk in his grocery and grain business. This employment lasted until 1885 when he was appointed to the U.S. railway mail service running between Boston and Keene, NH. Four year later he returned to Hudson.
William Wallace received his early education in the local district school, perhaps attending the same #8 as his older brother John. William’s higher education was from the McGraw Institute in Reeds Ferry. In 1885, at the age of 20, he likewise entered the employ of his Uncle Nathan as a clerk and was soon appointed Assistant Post Master, a position he held until 1890.
In October 1890 brothers John Julian and William Wallace Baker took over and expanded the building and grocery business from their uncle. The Baker Brothers’ building was the location of the early post office at Hudson bridge when the Democrats were in office. When the Republicans were in office the Post Office would re-locate across the square in Daniels and Gilbert. The Bakers’ Building had a long history dating back to the 1860’s. Owners were James Carnes, then Nathan P. Webster, and then John J. and William W. Baker and later Sidney. After operating for two generations it was sold to the Rodgers Family of Hudson prior to being demolished as part of the bridge revitalization.
John Julian was elected town clerk and treasurer in 1892 and continued for 3 years. He was elected again in 1903 and continued as clerk and treasurer, with the exception of 1 year, until 1940. His total years of service as clerk and treasurer were over 40 years! In March 1940 he was honored by his town with a formal resolution for his service. John Julian passed February 1942 and was laid to rest with his family in Sunnyside Cemetery,
William Wallace and Sarah Lee (Oldall) Baker were married in Hudson December 1899. Their family consisted of three sons; John Earl (born February 1903), Sidney F. (born May 1905), and Wallace Grant (born February 1907). William Wallace passed December 1932 at the age of 67.
In the mid 1920’s John Earl took a trip to California and visited Hollywood. After returning home he started a theatrical production group called Hudson Players. He and Vera Tieiney married in November 1927. After his uncle, John Julian, retired as town clerk and treasurer, John Earl was elected. He converted an old roadside farm stand used by Vertner Fogg for the sale of veggies into an office from which he conducted his insurance business as well as his business as Town Clerk. He served as town clerk and tax collector until he passed in 1966, a total of 25 years!
Sidney F. was educated in Hudson and Nashua, graduating from Nashua High. He married Frances M. Slavin om June 1928. Sidney took on the operation of the family grocery store from his father, William Wallace. As a young man Sidney was active in the affairs of the town serving on Police and Fire Departments. After the passing of her brother-in-law Frances served as town clerk for 6 years and as tax collector for 4 years; after which time these positions were held by John P. Lawrence. Sidney and his family resided on Cutler Street in Hudson. Sidney passed May 1888 and was laid to rest in Hills Farm Cemetery.
Between John J., John E. and Frances the Baker family occupied the office of town clerk for 71 years from 1892 to 1972. Researched and written by Ruth M. Parker.
So..you want to ride the trolley to Manchester, Lowell, or Salem?
By 1893 tracks for the street railway (trolley) were in place from Nashua down East Hollis Street to and over the iron Taylor Falls Bridge into Hudson ending near the east end of the bridge. For two years this was a horse drawn trolley which provided fairly good service between Hudson and Nashua.
By 1895 it was re-organized as an electric railway and the tracks extended from the bridge up Central Street and down Lowell Road with a popular stop at the ‘five cent limit’ where Lowell Road branches into Dracut and River Roads (aka Stewert’s Coner). The tracks went beyond this point down River Road to the state line. The infrastructure of the iron Taylor Falls bridge was improved to handle the heavier trolley cars and the increase in both trolley and automotive traffic. This line provided service from Nashua to Lowell via Hudson. Hourly trips were made during the winter months and every 30 minutes in the summer. Running time from Nashua to Lowell was about 1 hour 10 minutes at a fare of 20 cents. The fare from Hudson to Lowell was 10 cents. If you had 10 cents in your pocket you could ride to ‘the limit’, enjoy a picnic lunch, and return home later in the day.
The Hudson, Pelham, and Salem street railway was incorporated by the state legislature March 7, 1889 with the authority to construct and maintain tracks from the bridge through Hudson Center and on to Pelham, Salem and the state line. This line was opened September 8, 1902. The tracks went from the bridge over Ferry Street. At the end of Ferry Street (near Burnham Road) the tracks went “off road” behind Westview Cemetery taking a sharp right turn crossing Central Street near what is now Burger King. From there it continued “off road” through wooded areas and behind the Haselton Barn on to Pelham. Relics of these tracks can be seen off to the right along parts of Speare road and again when it crossed the Gibson Road before entering Pelham. The speeds required to maintain good travel time were often times considered reckless on parts of this line. I have read that some folks even refused to ride this line and some predicted disaster.
Disaster did occur on Sunday afternoon September 6, 1903. Two cars collided on a section of track in Pelham, each car traveling around 25 miles per hour with about 70 travelers on both cars. Many of the passengers on the west bound car were returning home after a visit to Canobie Lake. The crash occurred on a hilly curve where visibility was poor. This accident resulted in 6 fatalities; and more than 40 injuries, many serious. Of those killed was Hudson Postmaster George C. Andrews. His wife Anabel received serious injuries from which she never completely recovered. The cause of the accident was a misunderstanding of the start-up orders for the train leaving Nashua and heading east. Once discovered, it was too late to stop either of the cars.
Between the huge damages and the safety factor this line was forced into receivership late 1904, was reorganized in 1907 and 5 years later consolidated into another company. The tracks for the Salem, Pelham, and Nashua line were abandoned in March 1924.
A trolley line from Taylor Falls bridge traveling north along Webster Street, through Litchfield, Goffs Falls, and Manchester was incorporated in 1905. The line opened for public travel January 1, 1907 with a 12 mile trip from the bridge to Goffs Falls at a cost of 20 cents and a running time of 45 minutes. Trips were made every hour in winter months and every 1/2 hour during the summer months.
These three trolley lines and the concrete Taylor Falls bridge built in 1909 did much to expand the growth of Hudson especially in the bridge area, causing the business center of town to shift from Hudson Center to the bridge area. The area around the intersection of the three trolley lines near the bridge became known as ‘railroad square’; so named for the street railroads as opposed to the steam railroad.
Before the popularity of the automobile residents could rely on the trolley for transportation to/from their jobs;for travel to Nashua and/or Lowell for shopping; and for recreation!! The owners of each of these trolley lines, in an effort to increase ridership invested in destination recreation facilities on each line. Just beyond the state line on River Road was Lake View Park; on the Pelham and Salem line was Canobie Lake Park; and on the Litchfield to Goffs Falls run thee was Pine Island Park.
The 1920’s with the rise of the automobline was tough on the trolley. Ridership dropped, safety vs speed became an issue. By 1932 all trolley traffic in Hudson had ceased. Researched and written by Ruth Parker.
Some of our readers will recognize this as the first location of the Greeley Public Library; others may identify it as the home of Marjorie and Natalie Merrill. Both memories are correct!!
George A(nderson) Merrill was bon in Hudson July 1862 the youngest son of James B. and Persis (Winn) Merrill. James B. was a farmer and a carpenter. He built houses in the Hudson, Nashua, and Lowell areas. James was the great grandson of Rev. Nathaniel Merrill, the first settled minister of Nottingham, MA (now Hudson, NH). George A. attended the local rural schools. worked as a farm laborer, and developed his skills as a carpenter; likely from working with his father. By 1889, at the age of 27, he began to build his house on Maple Avenue upon a lot of land deeded to him by his father. In October of the following year George A. and Emma Blanche Winn were married. Emma, also a Hudson native, had experience as a rural school teacher here in Hudson prior to their marriage. This house at 8 Maple Avenue became their family home. About the time of their marriage George A. began his 45 year career as a woodworker and carpenter for the Cumming Brothers of Hudson. Early in his career he worked on horse drawn carriages, transitioning to auto and truck bodies as the industry changed. In 1896 George A. was a member of the building committee for the construction of Webster School. A few years later he served in the Board of Selectmen.
In June 1894 Emma was appointed as librarian of the Greeley Public Library by the newly formed Board of Library Trustees. The first free public library of Hudson was opened to the towns people at the Merrill residence on Maple Avenue. By April of 1895 she resigned as librarian, most likely because her first child was due within a few months. The library was moved to the Baker Brothers’ building on Central Street. George A. and Emma’s family consisted of three sons (Winn b:June 1895, Maurice Chester b:June 1902, and Fred Rounseval b:June 1904) and two daughters (Marjorie b:September 1900 and Natalie Evelyn b: August 1907). As their family matured the three sons relocated outside of New Hampshire and the two daughters remained in Hudson. Winn served in World War I from April 1918 until his discharge in March 1919, By August of that year he was married and residing near Syracuse, NY; later moving to Hamden, CN where he passed in September 1656. He and his wife, Maude Arthur, had three children and several grand children. Maurice and Fred likewise married and relocated elsewhere. Maurice and his wife Ruth Dove resided in northern California and had two children and several grand children. He passed in June 1982. Fred and his wife Grace Johnson resided in Alabama and had three children and grand children. Fred passed in July 1960.
Marjorie and Natalie remained in the Maple Avenue home taking over the responsibility of it after their parents passed. Marjorie attended Webster school in Hudson and later graduated from Nashua High in 1919. She was a member of the Hudson Congregational Church on Central Street and later a member of the Hudson Community Church when the Congregational and Methodist Churches merged in 1930. She was a life-long member when she passed in October 1982. Marjorie has a 55 year career as a bookkeeper with a variety of businesses in Nashua; the last one being the Memorial Hospital business office.
Natalie likewise attended Webster school in Hudson, then Nashua High; she then attended Plymouth Normal School for a teaching degree. She had teaching experience with the rural school of Wentworth, NH. She returned to her Hudson home and traveled to Nashua where she worked as a clerk and later as a bank teller for Nashua Trust. I remember Natalie as a quiet, but fun loving individual with a strong interest in Hudson and it’s history. She, like her sister Marjorie, was a life-long member of the Hudson Congregational Church and later the Hudson Community Church. She was a 50 year member of the Hudson Fortnightly Club, a Federated Women’s Club; serving prominently on their Historical Committee. She later became a charter member of the Hudson Historical Society.
The records of the Church of Christ in Nottingham, MA were maintained by the pastor, Rev. Nathaniel Merrill as early as 1737. When he passed these records were passed down with his estate to his family. In 1930 these records were amongst the family heirlooms at 8 Maple Avenue. Natalie made a handwritten copy of these records. This copy is now a part of the collection of the Historical Society. The original records are in the archives at the New Hampshire Historical Society in Concord. With the assistance of Dr. H.O. Smith these records (christenings and marriages) were published by the New England Historic and Genealogical Society in their Register.
Natalie remained in her Maple Avenue home until the early 1980’s when she moved into to the Hunt Community in Nashua. The Hudson home was sold to Nancy Lee Boyer. The exterior of the home looks much like this 1970’s photo but the interior has been reconfigured into apartments. It is currently owned by a gentleman in Milford, MA. Photo from the collection of the Hudson Historical Society. Researched and written by Ruth Parker.
Hills Memorial Library at the corner of Library and Ferry Streets was dedicated June 11, 1909 and opened for the first day on June 12. Let’s look at the history behind the planning and construction of the library which served our town for over 100 years.
Prior to June 1909 our town library, The Greeley Public Library, was located on the third floor (Webster Hall) of the Baker Brothers Building on Central Street; named for Dr. Adoniran Judson Greeley a Hudson native. By his will and the generosity of his heirs some 1,878 books from his private collection were selected for the library. This library was organized in 1894 and was located at the home of George A. Merrill on Maple Avenue for about one year. The books were then moved to the third floor of the Baker Building on Central Street where it remained for some 14 years. During these years the ‘bridge section’ of our town was growing! The bridge to Nashua plus three trolley lines were transforming the Bridge Area into the business center of Hudson.
In July 1903, almost 6 years before the opening of the Hills Library, Kimball Webster purchased land at the corner of Ferry and Sanders (now Library) Streets from the Nashua Coal and Ice Company. Yes, an icehouse did exist on the lot at the time. Webster realized the need for a permanent and centrally located building and realized that suitable sites were being taken up for other purposes and prices were increasing. He purchased this lot with the intent of having it for a library building when the time came. He gifted it to the town in September 1904 with well considered stipulations. The lot was for a library building facing Sanders Street with no buildings between it and the street. The town had the obligation to erect a reasonable and respectable building. In no case was the town ever to sell, dispose or convey these premises or any part to any person or corporation. If sold or attempted to sell the land would immediately revert to the donor or his estate.
With this gift the town was assured of a prime location for a library and waited for a proper building!! Hudson did not have long to wait. The right people were Dr. Alfred K. Hills, his wife Ida Virginia, and her mother Mary Creutzborg.
Dr. Hills was born in Hudson, October 1840, to Alden and Nancy (Currier) Kimball Hills. Alden was a direct descendent of James Hills who, with his brothers, were the first settlers of this town. Dr. Hills married Martha P. Simmons, June 1865. She passed in June 1885; they had no children. Soon thereafter in June 1887 he married Ida Virginia Creutzborg of Philadelphia. Dr. Hills purchased his family homestead on Derry Road, where he built their summer residence which he named “Alvirne”. It was here that he and his wife spent the summer seasons for many years, residing in New York during the winter. They had two daughters who passed in infancy. Mrs. Hills passed I May 1908.
Mrs. Hills was an educated and refined lady with a happy and cheerful disposition with a generous, philanthropic nature and prominent in town for more than 20 years. Dr. and Mrs. Hills had a vision to erect a building for a town library. His own library at “Alvirne”, a product of Mrs. Hills’ brain in conjunction with their architect Hubert Ripley, was a working model for such a building.
Soon after her passing Dr. Hills proceeded with her wishes. Working with the architect plans were made for a building of stone which would be ornamental and convenient. A plan was presented to the selectmen with the request they call a special town meeting for its consideration. Here, on September 1, 1908 the town voted to accept the gift from Dr. Hills. In essence he would build the library at his expense which would be essentially like the sketch presented at the meeting. This sketch is a part of the collection of the Historical Society. Named “Hills Memorial Library”, it would be built on the lot previously donated by the Honorable Kimball Webster, house the collection of the Greeley library and be maintained by the town as long as it exists. Construction began in October of 1908.
In a report to the town in early November 1908 Dr. Hills acknowledged the thanks and well wishes of the people. With the passing of his wife that same year, their planned gift would occur earlier than expected. He also announced that he would be joined in the endeavor by Ids Virginia’s mother. With solid progress so early it was his hope that the roof would be on by the end of the fall so that interior work could occur during the winter months. On June 11, 1909, the twenty-second anniversary of Dr. Alfred Hills and Ida Virginia Creutzborg, the Hills Memorial Library was dedicated. It was opened for the first exchange of books on June 12, 1909.
The second photo shows the construction crew on the unfinished steps of the library. The roof is complete or nearly completed. I date this photo as late all 1908.
By the early 1980’s the expansion of the library services began to outgrow the capacity of the building. These pressures were eased by a bookmobile in 1977 and later with two satellite buildings in the rear of the main building. Attempts were made to expand the building but the plans did not get the approval of the voters. In 2007 a donation from the Rodgers Brothers was made and graciously accepted for a new library facility in memory of their parents, George and Ella M. Rodgers.
In 1984 the Hills Memorial Library Building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places and in 2012 added to the New Hampshire Register of Historic Places.
In preparing this article I have relied upon various sources: History of Hudson, Documentation presented for inclusion on the National Register, Library history prepared by Laurie Jasper, and newspaper articles from the Nashua Telegraph. Written by Ruth Parker and edited by Steve Kopiski.
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.