Home » Derry Rd
Category Archives: Derry Rd
Greetings of the Season and Happy New Year to all
Even though plans for the ‘in-person’ Seasonal Open House did not develop as planned, we are pleased to share this virtual Open House with you.
Sit back, relax, and take a few moments to enjoy this video prepared by The Hudson Cable Committee and narrated by Society President, Len Lathrop:
Thanks to Anne Country Florals, Sue Hill of Flowers on the Hill and her class at Alvirne, members of the Society who decorated inside and outside he House. And special thanks to Diane Cannava, Grace Lemay, Jacquie Lemay, and Michael Johnson of HudsonCTV.
Hudson residents in many neighborhoods have access to trail systems following along and adjacent to cleared spaces beneath power transmission lines. These have been used for decades by children on adventures, pleasure hikers and off-roaders (legally and otherwise.) There is a particular spot where a combination of power lines, cow paths, and discontinued routes from older times branch out from a century-old granite quarry the locals call “The Ledges”.
The Ledges are located in the woods northeast beyond Ledge Rd, but trail access was cut off by development long ago. It is well off the power line trails from the substation at the end of Power St. (road gated) where these transmission towers head off in multiple directions to bring electricity to the region. A trail, once a road, from Ledge Rd. to Power St. is in living memory of a few locals. The quarry as it remains today is hard to conceive a more thrilling, if unsafe, playground for youngsters. Stone steps for scrambling up and down 20 feet or more, natural and man-made features inspire the imagination into a pretend house, or a hero’s hideout. A frog pond at the base of a cliff where throughout the spring one can see eggs become tadpoles, then frogs year after year.
Modern quarry operations cleave monstrous slabs of granite with house-sized chainsaws, and leave tall, smooth cliffs. When in operation from the1800s until the beginning of the 20th century, the technology involved a series of holes likely by steam drill, then splitting off large pieces with what’s known as “feather and wedge”. Of course explosives were also used, scattering large chunks all to be carried away by wagon. Their destination or ultimate use is unfortunately unknown. Granite was and remains a sought-after commodity primarily for building. Foundations to entire structures, seawalls, retaining walls as well as monuments and markers. In viewing, one can see The Ledges was a small operation with its output probably used up locally. What remains are irregular stair-step remnants of stone in an amphitheater arrangement.
In searching for its history, not a whole lot remains. The Historical Society turned its attention here in response to an inquiry concerning a turn of the century map. As is shown below, when operating, the quarry was referred to as ”Lappre’s Ledge” (1889), then later (1908) “Mcqueston property – Duncklee’s Ledge”. What follows are largely verbatim reported accounts from the Nashua Telegraph. These concern the quarry and surrounding areas, (minimally edited to preserve the character of the original accounts). Excerpts in Italics, Warning: There are some graphic descriptions of accidents:
Jun 6, 1889 – Hudson – NH – Explosion – Lappre’s Ledge -A man in the act of discharging a blast when a gust of wind blew some of the loose powder upon the fuse and a premature explosion followed. The man with a ton or more of fragments stone, was thrown more than 20 feet into the air. He fell within a few feet of the place where he was standing at the time of the discharge, and strange to say, was not killed. These injuries, however, were of a very serious character. His face badly burned and blistered is a eye so badly injured that the doctor feared he will lose it. His left leg and arm were badly burned and blistered, and the skin pierced and torn by stone. In fact, pieces of stone forced into his leg in several places. Besides this, this watch, which stop at 10:40 AM is rendered worthless, and his clothes torn and set on fire. The man was brought to his home in Nashua where he was attended by a doctor who had no occasion for alarm concerning the patient’s recovery.
Apr 11, 1894 – Hudson – NH – Wagon accident – Ledge Road – a man was drawing stone from the ledge and loaded his wagon and was on the way out in route to Nashua. The road out of the pit was steep up the hill. His wagon jumped over a large stone and he was thrown from the wagon. He fell under the wheels and died on the scene.
Nov 14, 1907 – Hudson – NH – Explosion with injury – A man working at the LP Dunklee ledge suffered numerous fractures, burns and cuts when he was placing explosives to clear rock and a secondary explosion took place. He died from his injuries 8 days later.
Apr 11, 1908 – Hudson – NH – Large brush fire – Mcqueston property – Duncklee’s Ledge – The fire was started by brush fire being burned and was spread by the wind. Ten acres were burned before the fire was controlled around noon. At 2pm the flames again reignited and were spreading fast. Over 100 acres burned being the largest fire in (town) history up to that time. Dec 1, 1962 – Hudson – NH – House fire – Ledge Road -Firefighters responded to the vacant unoccupied home and they when arrived heavy fire was showing from the small building. Before crews could bring the blaze under control the home was destroyed.END Excerpt
This last item, the house fire was unique in that its location was not on a conventional street, rather a lot immediately adjacent to the quarry. It was inhabited by a reclusive woman until 1959 and abandoned a few years before it burned. As it turned out, this woman owned the quarry site and a considerable amount of the associated land which she sold when she vacated. First hand accounts describe the building as “a shanty” with one witness claiming it was built around a large boulder up through the floor. Plausible speculation is that it was the field office during the quarry’s operation (where a boulder might only make sense). A brief mention in the Dec. 3 ’62 Telegraph states the cause as arson. Ample land in a central area of town can only remain untouched for so long. In the 1980s, the quarry site and surroundings combined for a land sale where over one hundred homes stand today. Preservation efforts are fortunately unnecessary for the Ledges remaining rugged stone in the Granite State.
Written by Steve Kopiski. Acknowledgements for research assistance to Ruth Parker, Peter Lindsay and Dave Morin; (HFD Call Records from the Nashua Telegraph.)
The first proposal to build an elementary school on Derry Road was presented to the voters in March 1988 when they were asked to approve the construction of two 600 pupil elementary schools of identical design; one on the Pelham Road and one on Derry Road opposite Alvirne High School. Included within this plan was 1/2 day Kindergarten, the conversion of Webster School to SAU office space, and transferring Library Street School to the town for their use. The cost of this plan was $12.57 million. There was also an option to enlarge each school to 800 pupils for an additional $1.23 million. This school meeting was the largest and liveliest on record. After much heated discussion the plan was amended and later approved. The result being to build one 800 pupil school on the Pelham Road at a cost of $7.3 million; later this new school was officially named Nottingham West Elementary.
Proposals for the Derry Road elementary school came before the voters again in March 1998 with a $7.5 million bond issue to build on land adjacent and south of Alvirne High School. A separate warrant article proposed 1/2 day Kindergarten at a cost of $1.8 million for 10 classrooms, with 75% being funded by the state. The voters of Hudson rejected both articles.
Long term Superintendent Peter Dolloff retired and within three years Randy Bell was hired as Superintendent. With this new leadership the School Board, School Administration, parents and individuals of Hudson worked together in order to solve the problems of space and class sizes within our schools. Focusing on the building issues a $17.6 million warrant article was presented to the deliberative session on February 2000 which included the cost of the land plus construction of a new elementary school on land adjacent to Alvirne as well as renovations and an addition to Memorial school. When the votes were counted in March this proposal was approved. This was a landmark decision by Hudson voters. The School Board gave credit to the community and various committees working together. Under the direction of the Building Committee Chairman, Bernard C. Manor, the new school was scheduled for completion for September 2001. The improvements at Memorial School were scheduled for Spring 2002.
By the beginning of the 2001 school year Hills Garrison was completed so as to provide elementary education for 512 students in grades 1-5 plus facilities for pre-school. The total school enrollment for Hudson that year was 4,100. The photo of the Hills Garrison School is courtesy of the Hudson School District.
On October 6, 2001 Hills Garrison school was officially dedicated to the citizens of Hudson for their generosity, support, and devotion to the students of Hudson. The school was named for the long standing contribution to the town by the Hills Family. A brief history of the Hills family was a part of this dedication. Paul Hills, a direct descendent of Joseph Hills, and members of his family were present for this event. The photo of the dedication plaque is provided courtesy of the Hills Garrison School staff.
A short time later the Hills Garrison marker was relocated onto the grounds of this school from it’s Webster Street location where it had been placed by Kimball Webster in 1901. Photo of garrison marker on school ground is courtesy of the author.
Public kindergarten and more specifically the responsibility for funding continued as a discussion point until 2009 when, after years of debate and discussion the Hudson school system provided 1/2 day Kindergarten.
8George O. Sanders began his career as a carpenter, builder, and architect. He left the area for a few years working under contract designing and constructing for the railroad. Returning to the Hudson/Nashua area he immediately established himself as a manufacturer and soon became one of the more progressive businessmen in the area.
George O. Sanders was born in 1851, the oldest son of Abi and Palmyra (Whittemore) Sanders who were married in Hudson January 1850. Their early married life was spent in Hudson and Windham moving to Nashua when George was six years old. Abi established himself as a carpenter and builder. George attended the public schools of Nashua and finished his education at Crosby’s Literary Institution. At the age of 17 he apprenticed the carpenter trade with his father who had become a well known builder in Nashua. George had two younger brothers; James born in 1854, and Fred born in 1869.
By 1872 21-year old George had purchased property in Hudson from Kimball Webster and within a year started building his own residence on the west side of Derry Street at the corner of what is now Haverhill Street. He finished his fine Victorian residence in two years. This residence was immediately recognized for it’s splendor, being one of the finest homes built in Hudson. By means of a windmill he provided a water source for his home from a well in his front yard. The George O. Sanders home, later owned by Harry Kenrick, is today listed on the National Register of Historic Places and known to us as the Lenny Smith House.
By 1878, George having proven his capabilities as a builder acquired ‘go west’ fever and followed the railroad to Atchison, KS where for the next four years he built bridges, stations, stores and engine houses on contract for Atchison, Topeka and Sante Fe and the Union Pacific railroads. He even printed a brochure to advertise his building expertise to the Atchison area. He returned to Hudson and married Linda Thomas, a Hudson native, in November 1882. They settled in his Victorian home on Derry Street. Linda’s wedding outfit is a part of the collection of the Historical Society.
Using his knowledge and experience he immediately started a wood product business which within 8 years would be one of the most successful and growing industries in the Nashua area. Working quietly and efficiently George began to clear and grade a 7 acre tract located in Nashua near the junction of the Nashua and the Merrimack rivers. He then erected a steam saw mill and box factory. He quietly and shrewdly kept developing his plant for the best and most productive result. He added a planning operation which was connected directly to the railroad by a private track which he layed at his own expense and for his exclusive use. His facility was totally destroyed by fire in October 1889. Despite the heavy loss he set about rebuilding and within 7 days part of his mill was up and running and completely rebuilt by January 1890. His new mill was lighted by electricity, heated, and equipped with a sprinkler system. From this facility he produced a variety of wood based products and offered the sale of fine lumber. He was able to offer employment to over 60 men.
Expanding his manufacturing interests into Hudson George purchased several acres and water rights from the old Hadley-Willoughby site on Tarnic Brook (Melendy Brook). He build al box shop and operated it for a few years when it was wiped out by a fire in December 1892. This was yet another big financial loss for George. He rebuilt it and sold to Mr. Melendy; retaining the water rites and much of the land.
In the spring of 1891 George purchased land from Nathan Cummings at the height of land on Highland Street. Here he erected a stand pipe and began to install water works in a small way; mainly to supple his own buildings; but, at the request of some of his neighbors he was induced to enlarge the facility to serve them as well. He extended a pipe through the river to his plant in Nashua. By 1893 the Hudson Water Works Company was incorporated with George as president and his wife Linda as Treasurer. Water from this source was used for only a few years as it was of poor quality. This was about the time he had purchased the water rights at Tarnic Brook. He conveyed land and water rites to the water company for use as large wells and pumping station. Sometime before June 1901 the water works was sold to parties in Boston. They failed to be successful and George again became principal stock holder. By July 1903 ownership had been transferred to parties in Maine and incorporated as Hudson Water Company.
During this time period George combined his manufacturing interests in Nashua and Hudson with the American Bobbin Syndicate which was similar to a conglomerate of many businesses brought together to form one larger company. Given his current losses resulting from recent fires and his need to meet payroll and show a profit, this may have appealed to him as a wise business decision. He received stock and bonds in the new company in exchange for the property and business. In addition George became a director and manager of the box department of this new venture. The American Bobbin Syndicate found it more and more difficult to make a profit, resulting in George assuming more and more responsibility for these losses. Ultimately his property was subject to foreclosure; including his residence on Derry Road. By October 1904 his fine Victorian home was sold at public auction for $3,540. It was purchased by Harry Kendrick, the sole bidder. Kendrick owned the property until the mid 1940’s when it was purchased by Lenny Smith.
Soon after this George moved from Hudson. Little else is known about his activities until February 1915 when he established a new company to produce an additive for cement to keep it from freezing. George passed in October 1921 at the age of 70 while living in Boston. He was laid to rest in Sunnyside Cemetery in Hudson.
Before leaving the story of the Sanders family in Hudson there are a few side points to make. In 1885 brother James began to build a row of houses on the south side of Ferry Street. By 1889 he had built 3; by 1890 he had 5; and by 1892 we see there were 9. To this date some 5 of these homes remain. James is known to have retired as a farmer in the south part of Hudson near the ‘limit’ or the five cent limit on the trolley.
By 1891 George had come into possession of the triangular piece of land we now know of as Library Park. He paid a large price for this land, about $1.300. He had it plotted into several building lots and offered them for sale but did not sell any. Several years later the title was acquired by parties in Nashua who again offered lots for sale. Two of these were sold and one house started before the Hills Family arraigned for its purchase for Library Park.
George did purchase land for and built the block, Sanders Block, as five tenements at the corner of Highland and Sanders (now Library) street in 1891.
In 1890 Abi Sanders built himself a home on Baker Street where he and his wife resided until June 1905 when it was sold. Abi passed December 1907 in Nashua at which time he and his wife Palymyra were residents of the Hunt Community in Nashua. Researched and written by Ruth Parker.
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.
Construction of a 400 pupil high school on Hills estate began in October 1949 with up to $350,000 from the estates of Alfred K. Hills and Mary F. Creutzborg, the mother of Ida Virginia Hills set aside or that purpose. Alvirne was opened September 1950 as a combined Junior and Senior High School. Course of study included college preparatory, commercial, domestic science, shop, and agricultural courses.
The vision of Dr. Hills which began in the 1920’s became a reality in November 1950 when Alvirne High School was dedicated and the keys presented by the chairman of the Building Committee, Eugene Leslie, to Dr. John Quigley, chairman of the Hudson School Board. During an open house over 1,000 people toured the new school. As a part of these ceremonies a scroll of appreciation was presented to Jesse Norwell Hills by members of the School Board for her invaluable service in helping to make possible the wishes of Dr. Hills and Mrs Creutzborg.
On June 14, 1951 the auditorium of Alvirne was filled with friends and family of 25 seniors, the first graduating class of Alvirne High School. They entered to the processional, “Pomp and Circumstance” wearing the traditional maroon cap and gown. The diplomas were presented alphabetically by Henry Hastings, Superintendent of Schools. So the very first diploma issued from Alvirne High School was presented to George W. Abbott. These diplomas were a metal certificate mounted onto a wooden board as shown in the accompanying photo. On behalf of the senior class, John Simo presented a corsage to Jesse Norwell Hills.
During this first year many gifts were made to Alvirne. Among them the framed and lighted picture of Dr. Hills for the school lobby, presented by his widow, Jesse Norwell Hills. The School Board noted in their annual report that the per student cost to the taxpayer to send a student to Alvirne was $200 vs the tuition cost of $253 to Nashua. That year there were 764 students enrolled in Hudson schools; 308 of these attending Junior-Senior high school at Alvirne.
In the next few years continuous improvements were made to the programs and curriculum at Alvirne, particularly in the area of vocational agriculture (Voc-Ag). The Trustees set aside money to help with the farm. To assist the School Board with opportunities arising from operating of a farm, an Advisory Committee consisting of local farmers, Earnest Chalifoux, Robert Jasper, Albert Kashulines, and Henry Smith was put in place. One of their recommendations was to change from a beef herd to a dairy herd. The beef critters were sold and equipment changed to the needs of a dairy herd. A milking parlor and milk room were added. A fine herd of milkers was put in place and a silo added to the barn. By 1957 Alvirne was accepted as an area Vocational Agricultural School.
As the educational opportunities at Alvirne increased so did the enrollment. This increase was due to the population increase in Hudson as well as neighboring towns who did not have their own high school and opted to send their students to Alvirne on a tuition basis. At the school district meeting of 1958 voters agreed to proceed with an 8 room addition to Alvirne. The firm of Irving W. Hersey Associates was again hired as architects. This addition was added to the south end of the building with a new combination cafeteria/auditorium in the basement. Plans also included the construction of a stand alone Voc-Ag building between the north end of the existing building and the farm. The expenditure of $182,850 for the school addition and $33,150 for the Voc-Ag building were approved at the school meeting held in March 1959. Based upon enrollments this addition would be needed by September 1960 and was expected to meet student needs for the next 5 years. Sepalla & Aho Construction Company was contracted for this project. and the new addition available September 1960.
By the school year ending 1963 the student population of Hudson continued to grown as did the population in neighboring towns including Pelham, Windham, Londonderry, and Litchfield. Alvirne was accepting tuition students from each of these towns. It became apparent that additional high school space would again be needed by September 1965.
At the 1964 School District meeting the School Broad was authorized to negotiate a long term contract with Pelham for their tuition students. At the same meeting voters approved the design, construction, and equipment of a 16 room addition to Alvirne. Final approval of this $500,000 addition came at a special meeting in July 1964. The addition would be to the north end of then existing building.
In order to alleviate overcrowding at Alvirne a quarterly program was suggested by then Principal Chester Steckeviczl thus using the school facilities year round. This plan was put into place by the school year 1970-71, The community was saddened in June 1972 when just days before the graduation, Cheste Steckevicz passed away of a heart attack after serving as principal of Alvirne for 15 years. Robert Bettencourt, then principal at Memorial School filled the vacancy.
1973 was a banner year for Alvirne. A new greenhouse for the Vo-Ag was completed. Alvirne was evaluated under the quarter plan and granted full re-accreditation. There were 223 seniors graduating and we had a championship soccer team!
However, September 1974 the school year began in tragedy when, just 2 days after the beginning of the school year, Alvirne was 80% destroyed by fire. Upon arrival at the high school Deputy Fire Chief Robert Buxton saw that the gymnasium-auditorium and the center of the school were totally engulfed in flames. Help from other towns under mutual aid arrived within minutes. A mile of hose was used to connect to the nearest hydrant. In addition 6 pieces of apparatus were used to relay and pump water. The farm pond as well as the cistern located on the hill across the street was drained of well over 23,000 gallons of water. Alvirne was destroyed and 1200 students were displaced by the fire. After investigating Fire Chief Frank Nutting disclosed that the blaze had been set.
Within a few days and for the next year what resulted was a huge effort on the part of the School Board and many, many volunteers within town. To continue the class requirements the then empty St. Francis Exavier school building in Nashua was leased for the year and students for Grades 4 and 5 were bused to Nashua where they were taught by their regular teachers. Dual sessions were held at Memorial for grades 7 – 12. This all occurred within a two week period. Volunteers worked to salvage books, desks, etc. Other items were borrowed from neighboring school districts.
At a special school district meeting in November 1974 the school district voted to rebuild Alvirne at a cost of $4.3 million or $28.16 per square foot. Cost was covered by the insurance money, money from Alvirne Trustees, and a 2 million bond issue. By September 9, 1975 one year and one day after the fire, Alvirne was again in session in a new building located at the old historic site.
The vision for Alvirne High School began with Dr. Alfred K. Hills and was set in motion by his last will and testament written in December 1918, less than two years before his death in May 1920. However, there were two pivotal events in 1948 which, in the final analysis, permitted the Town of Hudson to establish Alvirne High School on the former Hills Estate on Derry Road.
The first of these was the legendary Alvirne Summer School which took place at the Alvirne Summer Home and the surrounding field and forest; the purpose being to show that a high school which satisfied the conditions of Dr. Hills’ will was feasable in Hudson. This school was established by town and school officials upon the suggestion of Attorney Robert B. Hamblett, representing the estate of Dr. Hills.
The second, and less public event, was the role played by Mrs. Alfred Hills (Jesse) in the final negotiations and litigation of the estates of Dr. Hills and his mother-in-law Mary Creutzborg.
First some background. Alfred K. Hills was a Hudson native, born October 1840 on the farm of his Hills ancestors. By the age of 22 Alfred had graduated from Harvard College and by age 25 had married Martha Simmond in Boston. In the years to follow he studied medicine and established his 40 year medical profession in New York City. In 1885 his wife Martha passed away after 20 years of marriage.
In 1887 Alfred married Ida Virginia Creutzborg of Philadelphia and they purchased the old homestead and acreage on Derry Road. In 1890 they built their “Alvirne” summer home in a field across the road from the farmhouse. Alfred and Virginia had two daughters; Gladys born 1891 and Mary born 1895. Both children died in infancy. In May 1908 Ida Virginia passed away suddenly.
The generousity of the Hills/Creutzborg family to our town is well known. Alfred and Ida Virginia donated a bell and belfrey for the Chapel of the Holy Angels on Lowell Road. Soon after Ida Virginia’s death in 1908 he built the Alvirne Memorial Chapel in her memory. Alfred and his mother-in-law Mary Creutzborg provided the funding for the Hills Memorial Library and for Library Park.
In 1910 Alfred Hills and Jessie Norwell of Nashua were married. When Dr. Hills passed in May 1920 he was interred within the Alvirne Chapel along side his wife Virginia and their daughters.
In his will Dr. Hills left lifetime income to a number of beneficiaries with the remainder of his estate to the Town of Hudson for the purpose of establishing an “industrial school” containing the name Alvirne. In May 1928 Mary Creutzborg passed at the age of 102. By her will she also provided funding for the Alvirne school envisioned by her son-in-law Alfred. In the 19 years which followed no funds from either estate were made available to Hudson. During this time the beneficiaries were being paid, the Hills farm continued operation by a farm manager, our country was in a depression, the intent of an “industrial school” was unclear and the wills were being contested in the courts by family members.
In August 1947 the court did rule that the trust money could be used by Hudson. The problems were the appeal of this decision and a continuing battle with some of the heirs to retain a percentage of the money. This brings us up to the spring/summer of 1948.
Local school officials, attorneys for the Town of Hudson and the Hills Estate organized a school to be known as Alvirne High School on June 7, 1948 at 4:00 pm at the Hills summer home. There was a public gathering including parents, school and town officials and some 22 girls and 10 boys who registered classes. Mrs. Harold (Maude) French, a local 4-H leader, was designated to teach sewing to the girls. By the end of the session these girls learned basic sewing techniques and had made 12 playsuits, 15 dresses, 20 shorts and pedal-pushers, 9 blouses, and had remodeled several garments. Kenneth Gibbs who had recently retired as county 4-H agent was designated to teach a session for the boys; including foresty, soil testing, basic dairy and barn maintenance as well poultry raising. Mr. Gibbs served as the first principal of Alvirne. In the end this summer program lasted 6 weeks with diplomas issued at a closing graduation. The first photo was taken June 1948 in the Library of the Alvirne Summer Home during one of Jesse Hills’ visits to the school.
These sessions and activities of the summer school were watched by several individuals including lawyers representing various parties. The lawyers for the heirs were hoping to show that the conditions of the will had not been met. Following the graduation several individuals, including Mrs. French, Jesse Norwell Hills, Principal Gibbs, and members of the school board, were served court summons to give depositions to prove that the legal requirements of the will were met and that the school was established. Testimonies were made before 6 lawyers; 4 representing the heirs and 2 defending Alvirne. Mrs. French was questioned for a period of 2 hours.
Even when word came that the conditions of the will were met the appeal process and litigations continued. As late as January 1949 there were prospects of further costly litigation and appeals. In an effort the ‘buy peace’ with the family and proceed with the design and building of a high school a settlement was negotiated for $25,000. The school board, Mrs. Hills as trustee of the estates, and their councils agreed.
Following this decision Architect Irving Hersey and Trustees of the Alvirne School worked on plans and drawings for Alvirne High School. Ground breaking was scheduled for the spring 1949. Our second photo shows the architect’s drawing of Alvirne High School from the cover of the first school yearbook entitled “SATYR” in June 1951.
In reality the Jasper Farm Stand on Derry Road, opposite Connies, was not a restaurant. The stand did offer B B Q chicken, dairy products, and farm fresh eggs! A place which few of us remember!!
By the late 1950’s the State of New Hampshire had re-routed Route 102 (Derry Road) just north of the Hills House to proceed north through parts of Litchfield, then back into Hudson, then forward to Londonderry and Derry. Before that time Route 102 followed what is now Old Derry Road; past Jasper Farms, Nadeau Farm, the Hudson speedway and on to Londonderry and Derry. This new highway removed much of the traffic from Old Derry Road; at the same time the new highway created business and retail opportunities on previously undeveloped land.
In March 1960 Jasper Farms under the management of Robert Jasper purchased 5 1/4 acres of land on the new highway opposite what is now Connie’s Plaza. Shortly after, in an effort to expand local retail presence and take advantage of the new highway, Jasper Farms open their farm stand at what is now 296 Derry Road. By looking at our first photo we see one could purchase farm fresh eggs, Bar B Q chicken, ready to cook chicken, as well as some Hoods dairy products.
This retail store did not survive for long. By June 1968 the 5 1/4 acre parcel was sold to Bernie and Phyllis McArdle. Bernie established his Home Decorating Center where he sold wallpaper, paint, and provided paint contracting services.
As time went on the property was subdivided and the building expanded to accommodate two businesses. The building has been used for R + S Supply by Bob St Onge, K + M Trailer Sales by The Kierstead Family, and One Stop Auto Parts. By February 1981 it was purchased by Gerald Desrocher for D’s Auto Body; a business which continues to this day under the management of his son, Scott.
Our first photo is compliments of the Jasper Family and the second was taken by the author. Both photos are part of the Historical Society Collection.
Let’s meet at Connie’s!! A widely popular spot for Hudson and Litchfield folks is shown in this 1977 photo. As you enter the building you had Connie’s Country Store and Restaurant on your right and the Garden Center and Green House on the left. By the late 1950’s the State of New Hampshire re-routed Route 102 (Derry Road), just north of the Hills House, to proceed north through parts of Litchfield, then back into Hudson, then forward to Londonderry and Derry. Before this time Route 102 followed the route of what is now Old Derry Road. The construction of this New Derry Highway extended traffic onto much previously undeveloped land in Litchfield and Hudson.
In 1959 Connie and Amadee “Midee” Desmarais purchased property at the corner of Derry and Cutler Roads and went into business. In the early years they had a fruit and vegetable stand and soon expanded to include a variety of products, food, and services. In 1965 fire destroyed the Desmarais home and business. Connie’s was rebuilt as shown in this week’s photo.
The Desmarais family operated Connie’s for over 25 years until 1985 when they considered retirement and sold the business; only to be ‘called’ out of retirement. This occured not just once, but twice!! They finally sold again in 2002.
Still known to some as Connie’s Plaza this site at 297 Derry Road is now home to Rocco’s Pizza, Klemm’s Bakery, Findeisen’s Ice Cream, Second Look Consignment, Rhino Tax preparer, and Moonlight nails. Photo from the Historical Society Collection.
Good food at a reasonable price and entertainment!! That was the marketing plan Fred and Annimae Goodwin used for their popular restaurant on Derry Road.
By 1931 Fred T. Goodwin and his wife Annimae had moved to Hudson; and by May of that year Fred , a well known amateur actor, opened a place of business on Derry Road. This was located at what was then the Abbott property and directly across from Saint Patrick’ s Cemetery. He specialized in Ipswich fried clams which he obtained fresh from the flats. Fred. and Annimae had the idea that if they served a good meal at a reasonable price, people would come. And they did! After the first week there were reports that business was so great, many were turned away, and more equipment was quickly added. By 1935 free entertainment to the clam emporium was added in order to attract even more people.
Thanks to the Goodwin/Marshall family we have these early photos of the stand. The first, C1938, shows the cars packed into the lot and along Derry Road. You see the band stand for entertainment on the left and the clam stand on the right. The cars to the right, opposite the stand, are backed up against the stone wall of Saint Patrick’s Cemetery in order to enjoy the entertainment. The second photo of about the same time shows a close-up of the front of the stand. Notice the prices!!
Fred was also very active in local theater and politics; serving as selectman and in the state legislature. His approach to the fried clam business gave him great notoriety as people came from all over to the stand. Over the years the front of the stand did not change except for addition of an ell on the right side which served as a soda and ice cream fountain. Also by the 1950’s traffic on Derry Road was such that parking was not allowed in front of the stand.
Fred, Annimae, and later their family operated the stand for over 20 years. After Fred passed in 1952 Annimae ran the stand with her family. Annimae (Grammy) worked the kitchen, Francis (Bud) worked the grill and fryers, Elsie Marshall was the cashier. Fred, Jr had his own business in Nashua and would come to the stand when he could. He routinely balanced the cash and made nightly deposits.
By the late 1950’s into the early 60’s Fred III (Butch) oversaw much of the operation of the stand. The stand employed about 15 people; some of these were high schoolers working a summer job to save for college expenses. In 1961 the stand had a bank of 11 fryers (perhaps the largest in New England), a long mixing bench where all fried foods were prepared, a chef table for preparing salads, lobster, chicken, coleslaw, and tartar sauce.
By the mid 1960’s business slowed and ownership passed from the Goodwin family and soon after closed. By 1969 this property and adjacent acreage was sold by the Abbott family to Phil Lamoy for the 20th Century Shopping Center.