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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.
The revitalization of the business center at the bridge which occurred during the decade of the 1960’s impacted Central Street as well as Ferry and Webster Streets. Demolition of buildings occurred by both private and public enterprises; this week we look at the significant changes along Central Street near Post Office Square.
Our early 1900’s photo of P.O. Square at Central Street shows two landmark buildings which were still present in 1960; the old Baker Block (originally Carnes Block) on the right and the Martin House opposite and on the left at the corner with Ferry Street.
James Carnes came to Hudson about 1840 from his native Vermont. In 1844 he bought the old south meeting house near Blodgett Cemetery for $100. He took it down and proceeded to build a house from the resulting lumber and material in 1845. This house he built on a small triangular lot of land which was conveyed to him by the proprietors of Taylors Falls Bridge. The date 1798 was plainly seen carved upon the stone underpinning of the front of the house indicating the date of the building of the meeting house. This is the same house later owned by Elisha A. and Susan (Steele) Martin. After the death of Elisha his widow Susan and daughter Etta continued to reside here. It was later the home of Etta’s sister Anna Woodbury. Etta sold notions, newspapers, ice cream, etc. Nearby children were delighted by her glass candy case and penny ice cream cones.
At the time of his arrival to Hudson James Carnes wasl a wheelwright and blacksmith by trade. He gave up smithing and turned to the more lucrative business of manufacturing “Paddy” wheelbarrows for the growing railroad business during the pre-civil war days; a business he operated successfully for several years. He then converted to the general wheelwright business which he was operating when he constructed his combined store and assembly hall. He ran his business and rented his hall to various town organizations until his death in 1883. From 1874 to 1876 the newly organize Hudson Grange No 11 held meetings here. In 1879 after the Methodist Church was destroyed by fire the congregation held services in “Carnes Hall” until the new brick church was built in 1890.
After Carnes death in 1883 the store was occupied for short intervals by Francis Marden, Waldo Waldon, and Willard Webster. in 1890 Nathan Webster, a brother to Willard, enlarged and remodeled the building and the Baker brothers, John J.and William, took over the building and operated the store for many years until three sons of William, John E, Sidney, and Wallace took over the store and continued the business until just before World War II. From the Bakers Store one could purchase meats, groceries, feed, hay, and hard goods. Upon occasion, depending who was appointed postmaster, this served as the town post office. When the building was enlarged a third floor auditorium was added. A number of interesting events occurred in this auditorium including silent movies, magicians and strong men of traveling medicine shows. This third floor even served as the town library before the Hills Memorial library was built in 1909.
The revitalization of the area began with the destruction of the Baker Block in 1964. Originally known as the Carnes Block built in the early 1860’s. Some of the principal owners of this building were James Carnes, Nathan Webster, the Baker Brothers for two generations, and finally at the time of demolition the Rodgers Family. By 1964 when this building was demolished it was considered by many as a firetrap and an eyesore as one entered the town.
By 1969 the State of NH identified those properties needed for access roads. This included the Martin House, then owned by the Rodgers Family, and land frontage up to and including the Community Church. Our second photo shows the Martin Home in the late 1960’s shortly before it was demolished. Both photos are from the collection of the Hudson Historical Society.
One additional landmark building which disappeared in this time frame was the old transfer station for the three electric railway lines which met at Post Office Square. It was later the site of Joe Temple’s drug stone and, according to the memory of some residents, used as a residential dwelling before leaving our landscape alongside the concrete Taylor Falls Bridge. It is not clear to me when and how this building disappeared.
The plan to address the heavy traffic and congestion which had developed on the Taylor Falls Bridge between Hudson and Nashua by the early 1960’s was to have two bridges with one way traffic on each. A new bridge, The Veterans Memorial Bridge, north of the concrete Taylor Falls Bridge would handle west bound traffic from Hudson to Nashua. The existing concrete bridge would handle the east bound traffic from Nashua to Hudson. By July 1969 the bid process was completed and construction had began. The Veterans Memorial Bridge was dedicated and opened for traffic by September 1970.
During the five plus years before the opening of The Veterans Memorial Bridge, traffic increased further to the point that this became one of the busiest, if not the heaviest traveled bridge in the state. As early as March 1969 the search was on for funding to replace the ailing concrete bridge and in January 1970 the state announced it would be necessary to close the concrete bridge permanently once the new bridge was completed. The new bridge would be used for two-way traffic until plans were completed for a replacement to the Taylor Falls concrete bridge. There was competition for funding as plans were also being made to build the southern bridge connecting route 3A (Lowell Road) with route 3 in Nashua as part of the circumferential highway plans.
Even though the initial plan called for two bridges with one way traffic on each the design of the access roads were adaptable so that the new bridge could handle traffic in both directions should it become necessary; which it did! By March 1970 the state identified additional properties in both Hudson and the Nashua which were required for bridge access. On the Hudson side this included properties on Chase and Central Streets as well as on both sides of Ferry Street; including some frontage and the removal of trees on Library Park. The future of the old trolley stop was even in question!! The traffic pattern included the extension of Chase Street, which previously ended at School Street, through to Ferry Street. This week we will see the impact on the east side of Ferry Street and on the complex known as The White Cross Super Store.
We have two photos of the White Cross Store to share with you; one taken during the early years of the business and the second in 1968 during the last years of the business just prior to the state announcing that the building would be razed in order to accommodate access to and from the bridge(s).
The earliest reference to Roland’s White Cross appears in the 1948 Hudson Directory. According to an earlier directory Roland it is possible that Roland assumed operation of an earlier store on this site, Friendly Market with Raymond L. Jolley as Propietor. The store building was an existing Martin house which was renovated with a store front and signage. Apartments were available on the second floor.
By the early 1960’s Roland Levesque had partnered with Leo Noel and the business complex enlarged to include Hudson Pharmacy, Sherburne’s Restaurant, and Hudson Flower Shop. Leo Noel’s daughter was one of the early pharmacists and later Roland’s son, Richard was the pharmacist. Richard was the pharmacist when the business was closed. He later served as pharmacist at CVS on Derry Road. Robert Lynch, a Hudson resident and florist, opened his shop in the White Cross Super Store.
The state announced plans to purchase this complex in October 1970 and soon thereafter the building was razed. The 1970 Hudson Directory listed no buildings from the bridge to Campbell Avenue. The White Cross Super Store Complex was gone. Residents living in apartments were relocated elsewhere in town or to neighboring communities. The Pharmacy did relocate to Derry Road 20th Century Shopping Center.
The bid process for the Taylor Falls replacement bridge was completed by December 1972; construction began with a target completion date of November 1974. The Taylor Falls bridge replacement was in operation by January 1975. Today, as you travel from Nashua into Hudson you are greeted by the welcome to Hudson signage and plantings. There are few if any reminders of the White Cross Store.
The construction of the Veterans Memorial bridge in the late 1960’s and the Taylor Falls Replacement bridge in the early 1970’s completely altered the landscape of and virtually ‘wiped out’ what many Hudson residents knew of as the business center of Hudson. This week we look at how this construction affected one of Hudson’s landmarks, the 20th Century Store.
The 20th Century Building “at the bridge” on the corner of Ferry and Webster Streets dated to 1877. Mr. Elisha Z. Martin purchased the property (land and building) about 1876. Shortly after that the building was destroyed by fire and he rebuilt it the following year. After he passed in 1879, Mrs Martin married a Mr Sherman from Connecticut. Together they continued to make changes and improvements to the building.This site has a long history of being occupied by a grocery or general store. At the time of the fire in 1876 it was the location of Nathan Webster’s store, and following reconstruction his business returned and continued until about 1892. George Andrews succeeded Mr. Webster and continued the business until his death in 1903. Mr Elijah Reed ran the business for about 1 year after which Mr Charles Daniels in partnership with Charles B. Gilbert took it over and continued until about 1925.
Changes occurred through the years. By 1928 it was owned by Mrs. Jennie Connell and known as the Connell Block. The left side was washed away during the 1936 flood. The livery and barn were removed from the right side and remodeled into a grocery store. As early as 1926 the right side of the Connell Block was home to Sal’s Cash Market; with Harry Salvail as proprietor. By 1940 this was the location of the 20th Century Store and building which was owned by Phil Lamoy of Nashua.
The problem of adequate and safe travel over the Merrimack River between Hudson and Nashua came to a head in 1960. Hudson’s population was approaching 6,000 and expected to be near 11,000 by 1970! A comparable increase in Nashua’s growth was also expected. The State of New Hampshire commissioned the consulting engineering firm of Bruce Campbell of Boston to study the already heavy traffic situation and make recommendations. The resulting report, published at the end of 1960, kicked off a controversy which would span more than 10 years. This report made two recommendations. The first that a new, two lane bridge be built about 350 feet north of the Taylor Falls Bridge. This bridge would be used for traffic traveling westward into Nashua. The concrete Taylor Falls bridge would be retained for eastward bound traffic from Nashua. The second recommendation was that in the 1975-1980 time frame a circumferential belt highway be built be built to further ease the flow of traffic!!
This report stimulated much discussion between the two communities and the state. We could not agree on where to place the new bridge and the corresponding access roads. The initial plan was rejected. Another idea was a new span to the south, crossing the river about where the B+M bridge abutments exist. A third was to place the new bridge just north of the Taylor Falls bridge with traffic ovals on each side of the bridge for access/egress. 1966 became the year of compromise.
In March 1967 voters of Hudson agreed on a plan. This was followed by agreement by the Board of Aldermen in Nashua. By October 1967 the State issued this map showing the proposed bridge and approaches at Taylor’s Falls between Nashua and Hudson as shown. Access to the proposed bridge would go through the 20th Century Building and eliminate part of Webster Street. This plan did include a rotary on the Hudson side; which was later eliminated with plans to extend Chase Street from School Street to Ferry. With all of these discussions taking so long to resolve; traffic flow on the existing concrete bridge was increasing and the bridge was deteriorating.
In September 1968 it became necessary to make repairs to the concrete bridge to shore it up and prolong it’s life. The bridge was closed to vehicular traffic. Foot traffic (and bicycle) were permitted. Vehicle traffic was detoured to the bridge at Tyngsborough or Manchester to the north. Residents on both sides of the river would team up with neighbors and have two cars; one on each side of the bridge.
In the spring of 1969 the state relocation assistant expressed concern over the re-location of some 37 Hudson falmilies resulting from bridge construction. Many of these were families of 1 or 2 people living in apartments in the 20th Century Complex. The average rent paid by these families for a three room apartment was $16 per week. Comparable housing for a comparable amount of money did not exist in Hudson. The closest they could get for decent and safe conditions were going for $25 per week; over a 50% increase. The zoning ordinances of Hudson encouraged the construction of better homes without considering the needs of low cost housing.
By June 1969 the state offered $158,000 for the 20th building including the 20th century market. $38,000 for the purchase of a building on Webster Street, adjacent to the 20th Century which was used as a laundromat.
Construction was awarded to Cianchette Brothers of Maine and work on the new bridge began in July 1969 with forms for the first pier on the Nashua side by the construction The bridge was slated for completion September 1970. Meanwhile the Taylor Falls bridge to the south continues to be the work horse for traffic between the two communities.
In October 1969 we would see the end of the 20th Century store at the bridge in Hudson. On October 8 there was the ‘Sale of the Century”; designed to empty the store of all items as the building was scheduled for demolision within a few days. A new store at the 20th Century Shopping Center (now 102 Plaza) on the Derry Road was being readied. The “Welcome to Hudson, NH” sign which sat atop the building was removed. In less than two weeks the 20th Century building was gone.
September 1970 the Veterans Memorial Bridge opened for two-way traffic. State and local officials were present on September 16 for a ribbon cutting ceremony. Mrs. Georgianna Manter, a 99 year old resident of Londonderry was given the honor of cutting the ribbon. She had outlived all previous bridges. She had driven a horse and buggy over the wooden bridge and driven an auto over each of the later bridges. Finally our traffic needs no long depended on the old, crumbling concrete bridge.
In 1960 as you traveled eastward from Nashua into Hudson on the concrete Taylor Falls Bridge you would have the impression you had entered a blighted and economically depressed area. The bridge itself was sagging and straining the reinforcements. The load limit was reduced to prolong it’s life. You entered the Hudson business district. The businesses included a large chain grocery supermarket, a combined variety and pharmacy, two small restaurants, several small businesses, a multitude of rental apartments buildings, and a number of single family homes. The area was dominated by wooden structures dating back a century or more. As the future of this area had been in limbo due to the prolonged planning for a new bridge, many of these buildings were in need of repair.
Once the bridge plans became clear the “revitalization” of the bridge area began. Demolition of buildings was done by both private (business) and public enterprises. Some properties were purchased by the state for the bridge itself or for access roads to the bridge. Private enterprises purchased older properties with the vision of a commercial opportunity once the bridge project was completed. This “revitalization” began in 1964 and by 1970 all of the old landmarks had fallen to the bulldozer. With new bridges and access routes the area had the appearance of a growing and progressive community.
One such home which disappeared from the landscape was this victorian home on Ferry Street near the intersection with Baker Street. Yes! Baker Street did flow into Ferry Street near the intersection of Derry and Ferry. This fine Victorian home was built in 1887 by George Gilman Andrews on land he had previousiy purchased from Kimball Webster. Our first photo shows the Andrews House from the side. Ferry Street is on the left.
A Hudson native, George Gilman was born tin 1847 to Gilman and Sophia J. (Senter) Andrews . Their family homestead was located at what is now 53 Old Derry Road. George and Anabel Follansbee of Manchester were married in 1870. They had one daughter, Maude, born 1871. George was one of Hudson’s more prominent businessmen; postmaster, merchant, former town clerk, selectman, and representative. He succeeded Nathan Webster in the operation of his store in Post Office Square.
On Sunday afternoon September 7, 1903 George and Anabel were passengers on an electric car (trolley) making a return trip from Canobie Lake to Hudson. Perhaps they had taken a Sunday afternoon excursion to the park. Their westbound car crashed with another car coming from Nashua. As a result of the serious accident George was killed. His wife, Anabel, who was seated adjacent to him in the car, was seriously injured and was transported to the Lowell Hospital. She was in dangerous condition but within 24 hours showed sign of improvement. After a long recovery she ultimately regained health to be comfortable but was never entirely well again. With our second photo Anabel (Mrs George) Andrews is greeting guests in her dining room.
Anabel and her daughter Maude continued to live in this home following the accident. Mrs. Andrews passed in 1930 at the age of 81; a well known and respected resident of Hudson. Her daughter, Maude continued to live at this address until she passed in 1963 at the age of 92. Despite her advanced years Maude took a keen interest in town affairs. She had served as librarian early on when the library was located in the Baker Block on Central Street.
At some point prior to 1948 the Andrews home and attached barn on Ferry Street was converted to a multi-family. In 1948 Maude sold the property to Hudson resident Winthrop Hannaford. This sale took place subject to the following; Maude had the option to lease the ell (her living quarters) for $50 per month for the duration of her natural life. Also, there could be no alterations or additions to the building except to the foundations. Garages could be erected in the read for use by occupants of the building.
In 1955, eight years after Maude’s passing, the property was sold to Oswald H and Adrienne H. Boilard and in 1967 it was transferred to Gerald and Patricia Boilard. By June 1970 the property was sold to the Humble Oil Company. In September of that year the house was demolished to make room for a new three-bay service station to by operated by Carl Roberts and known as Carl’s Esso. A photo of this demolishion appeared in the Hudson News, September 30, 1970.
Many of us remember Carl’s Esso with the tiger mascot perched on the building roof. It is now the site of the Gulf station. Photos are from the collection of the Hudson Historical Society.