St John Elementary School
This week we continue with Library Street and look at St John’s Parish House and Elementary School. Two adjacent parcels of land were purchased by the diocese between Connell and School Streets for the elementary school. The first, adjacent to School Street, was purchased from Julia Robinson in July 1955. This parcel was next to the town owned tennis courts on School Street and was what remained of a larger parcel which extended up School Street. The second parcel, adjacent to Connell Street, consisted of land and buildings purchased from Arthur L. Crosscup in August 1956. This had been the home of Phyllis and Arthur Crosscup and their family.
Ground breaking for the school occurred on April 28, 1957. While construction was taking place the school actually began classes in the basement of the church under the supervision of Sisters of the Presentation of Mary. For the next year the Men’s Club and members of the parish pitched in every night to assist with the construction. As many as 17 men were there helping 2-3 hours each night to prepare for the opening of the school. In October 1858, after the dedication, the classes were moved into the newly completed school.
By 1962 an 8 room addition was built onto the school to accommodate the growing enrollment. The first graduation of a full eight years occurred in 1965. Into the 1970’s enrollment was on the decrease and in 1975 St John Parish announced the school would close as of June 1975. The St. John’s School Board and the School Board of Hudson worked together on a transition. A plan was devised whereby the town would lease the building for one year. After which the town purchased the property and it is now Library Street Elementary School. This school had made a lasting impression on our town.
St John Parish Center
Diagonally across Library Street from the elementary school and adjacent to the church building, the diocese purchased the former home of Charles and Marguerite Farmer in June 1955. By 1962 the home was converted into a convent for the Sisters of Presentation of Mary. It was used for that purpose about 12 years. By 1978 the building re purposed and enlarged as a Parish center. The Parish Center was dedicated May 7, 1978.
During it’s nearly 70 years in Hudson, St. John the Evangelist Church, the Parish, and their affiliated organizations continue to serve the Town of Hudson. I think of the Men’s Group (called Holy Name Society), Knights of Columbus an International Organization, Women’s Guild, ,Boy Scout Troop 252, Cub Scouts to name a few. At the present time and in today’s economy perhaps the most notable is St John XXIII Parish Food Pantry. Their service began about 1982 as St Vincent de Paul Food Pantry and has grown to providing food to some 300 different families in Hudson over the course of a year. The pantry is housed in a major portion of The Parish Center at 23 Library Street. One project of note is the ‘Feed Our Kids’ Program where the volunteers of the Food Pantry work with the students of Alvirne High School. This program supplies a backpack with food for eight meals, snacks, and drinks to provide nourishment over the weekend to a number of students. The food pantry provides the food and the students pack the backpacks and deliver them to the students. The food pantry receives support from the entire Hudson Community and their services are available to any family within our town. The photo of the elementary school is from the collection of the Historical Society. The photo of the Parish House is from the records of the Town of Hudson.
Prior to the mid 1940’s Hudson had no large industry. As World War II ended cars and gas were more obtainable and travel was easier. Families were moving into the area and finding employment in Nashua or other places, and choosing Hudson as their place of residence. Families with Catholic background traveled to Nashua for their religious connections. Those families of French descent would attend Infant Jesus (Crown Hill) or St. Francis Xavier (French Hill). Those of Irish descent attended St. Patricks; Polish descent to St. Stanislaus; and the Lithuanian families to St. Casimir.
By the mid to late 1940’s the Catholic population in Hudson neared 500 families. The Bishop of Manchester, Most Reverend Matthew F. Brady, decided that Hudson could well support and maintain it’s own Roman Catholic Church. In May of 1947 Articles of Agreement were written by Bishop Brady stating that the Diocese would establish a church in Hudson. Thomas J. O’Loughlin and Arthur L. Lougee were selected as trustees. The months which followed were spent planning, selecting a site, and procurement of land. By March 1949 the Diocese owned three contiguous land parcels. Two of these, the former Goddard Home and Connell Home, faced Library Street. The third parcel, formerly site of the town sheds, was to the rear of these parcels and had frontage on Chase Street. This third parcel would become the parking lot for the church. You may be asking, as I have, why this particular location was chosen? It is conveniently located, close to the bridge, and close to Town Services. Beyond that I have no additional insights. As you read this article, you may have some thoughts to share.
By March 17, 1949 the first pastor, Rev. John Belluscio, arrived in Hudson and took his residence at St. Patrick’s in Nashua. Within two days of his arrival the Rowell Family of Hudson offered the use of the old Ferryall farmhouse on Webster Street so he could be closer to his parish. Hudson had it’s first rectory! Father John held the first Mass in Hudson on April 3, 1949 in the gymnasium of the H.O. Smith School, then the Hudson Junior High School. Sunday Masses continued at the school until a building was ready for use on Library Street.
Work on the new church buildings began the very next day. The Goddard house on what is now 27 Library Street was razed to make room for the new rectory. By mid June the Harry Connell house on what is now 25 Library Street was moved across the street to 30 Library Street on land purchased for that purpose from Raymond Victor Lemery. The Connell house was converted into 4 apartments which were retained by the Diocese as income for the parish. This property was later sold to help with the purchase and building of St. John’s School.
In June 1949 Rev. Robert J. Faucher came to Hudson as the first curate to work with Father John and by August the new rectory was ready for occupancy. As the basement of the rectory had an altar; daily masses could now be held. It should be noted that a part of Father John’s task was to create an atmosphere compatible to parishioners of varied backgrounds. Tragically, in August 1950 the associate pastor, Rev Faucher was killed in an auto accident. Rev. Hector Lamontagne was appointed and he would serve 10 years.
Construction continued on the church building by Brideau Construction Co of Berlin. The first Christmas Midnight Mass was held in the basement of the new church in 1949. The following Easter morning the first Mass was held in the new sanctuary. The building was dedicated December 3, 1950. In the years which followed improvements were made to the building. By 1987 a 400 pipe Felgemaker Organ (built in 1886) was installed and dedicated. In the 1990’s stained glass windows were added to the sanctuary in addition to the stained glass windows overlooking the sanctuary which was given by St. John’s Women’s Guild. In 1999 St John The Evangelist Parish celebrated 50 years of service in and to the Town of Hudson. The plan of the Diocese was to merge the Infant Jesus Parish in Nashua and the St. John’s Parish in Hudson. In 2007, with the retirement of the priests in each of these parishes, these parishes merged together as Blessed John XXIII Parish (now St. John XXIII Parish) with Monsignor Paul Bouchard serving as Pastor in both.
The photos for this week are from the Historical Society Collection. They show the Rectory and St John Evangelist Church as photographed about 1975 in preparation of The Town in Transition. My thanks to Pauline Boisvant, Leona Shanholtz, and Don Smith for helping with he background information for this article. Comments or sharing of information can be by email to HudsonHistorical.com.
In 1892 there was but one house on the western side of Sanders Street (now Library Street) between Ferry Street and what is now Central Street. That house belonged to Joseph Fuller. The Hills Memorial Library had not been built and that corner lot was the location of an Ice House. In May 1910 Fred Blodgett transferred a parcel of land containing about 11,975 square feet on the west side of Sanders Street to The Congregational Society. This parcel was part of land previously owned by Joseph Fuller. The very next month the church contracted with Nashua Building Company to construct a parsonage house. Work began July 1 and was completed by October 1 of that same year. This was a major accomplishment for this Hudson Church and their new Pastor, the Reverend Lewis E. Perry formerly from Ayer, Mass. Rev. Perry delivered his first sermon in Hudson in July 1910 and was the first pastor to reside in the new parsonage on Library Street.
This residence at 31 Library served as parsonage for the Congregational pastors until the merger between that congregation and the Methodist church in 1930. It then served a parsonage of the Hudson Community Church until October 1970. The last pastor to reside there was Rev. J. Vernon Whittenburg who served the church from 1963 to 1970. At that time a decision was
made and the property was sold as a private dwelling. From 1970 to the present this home has had 4 owners, including the present owner, Mr. Walid Alhgoul, owner of Wally’s Pizza in Hudson Center.
The accompanying photo shows 31 Library as of the summer of 2016. The Historical Society does not have a good photo of the early parsonage; ff any of our readers can help locate such a photo; please send an email to Ruth at HudsonHistorical@Live.com. Also, special thanks to David Morin for helping with the research for this article.