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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.
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.