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For years 87 Lowell Road was the home of Etienne J. and Rose Levesque. This couple raised a family of 2 boys (Leo Paul and Robert) and 3 girls (Marie Anne, Eva, and Cecil). He was employed at and later retired from John Mansville in Nashua. Mr. Levesque passed in November 1968 with a family of some 17 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren. During these years the family saw many changes along Lowell Road. Prior to 1962 Birch Street did not exist; by 1962 Birch Street connected Lowell Road with Winnhaven Drive.
Soon after his passing this “fine commercial site” at the southern corner of Birch and Lowell was cleared for development. A stately willow tree was sectioned and hauled away. The former Levesque home was raised off its foundation and moved 1/4 mile down Birch Street by local contractor, John Lester. This home remains today at 13 Birch Street as a private residence and the home of Richard and Shirley Nason and their family.
By 1970 a 3-store front building was constructed on this corner and occupied by Cumberland Farms, Anton’s Cleaners, and Russel and Son’s Carpets. Within a few years Anton’s relocated and Cumberland expanded into their space. The carpet place was replaced by Cardinal Reality and later by Hudson House of Pizza. This week’s photo, from the collection of the Historical Society, was taken about 1977 for publication in the history update, Town In Transition. Cumberland Farms and Hudson House of Pizza remained at this location until just a few years ago. This location is now occupied by Veria Pizza and Hudson Mini Mart. Written by Ruth Parker.
As early as the mid 1950’s the ‘go-to’ grocery store for many Hudson residents, especially those living on or near Lowell Road, was the Hudson Super Market owned and operated by Robert “Bob” and Doris Provencal. Hudson was a fast growing town and business expanded so that by September 1970 the Provencal family held the grand opening of The Hudson Super Duper as shown in this week’s first photo. This event included onsite broadcasting of a local radio station, door prize of 18 inch portable TV, and special sale prices from all departments within the store.
The story of The Hudson Super Market, The Super Duper, and later The Piggly Wiggly, is also the story of Bob and Doris Provencal and their family. It began as early as 1936. Bob, then 16, lived with his family a short distance from what would later become the Super Duper. Bob needed extra money to buy a car. He had the idea of making bleach water and selling it for .20 a gallon to neighbors and friends. His efforts were profitable enough so he could purchase his first car. At 18 he took over his father’s filling station in Hudson as a mechanic. Again he was successful and needed to hire extra people.
After our country became involved with World War II, Bob wanted to enlist in the Army. His classification made him not eligible. Wanting to do something to help, he closed the gas station and went to work at Fort Devens where he ran a dynamometer and tested White Engines. By 1945 he met and married Doris Ledoux, also of Hudson. Soon thereafter he resigned from Fort Devens and re-opened the gas station, hoping to settle in Hudson; but there was a lack of housing in town so they settled in Nashua while making plans for and building an apartment building in Hudson. The rent they received would help pay the mortgage plus they would have a place to live in Hudson. As things were looking bright for the young couple, they were saddened by the loss of their first born son at the age of 10 days.
For her own health Doris knew she should keep busy. She suggested they put an extension onto their house so she could open a small store. This they did, and Doris ran the store where she met people while Bob ran the business of his own across the street. They added a grill and soda fountain and the endeavor became an immediate success. When not busy in the station he would help Doris in the store. One could say ‘the rest is history’.
The Hudson Super Market was opened in October 1952. Business grew and the store was expanded. A few years later the family realized the existing store could not accommodate the growing demands. On September 2, 1970 the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Hudson Super Duper took place. That same year Bob Provencal was named Grocer of the Year by The NH Grocers Association. Doris and Bob had a family of 2 sons (Greg and Donald) and 1 daughter (Charlene). The family grew up with the grocery business; and by 1970 Charlene was studying floral arrangement in Boston. She would later open her own Charlene’s Flower Shoppe nearby on Lowell Road. Donald was managing the frozen food department in the family store; and Greg was studying business in a local college.
By 1972 the Provencal family aligned their Super Duper Market with the Piggly Wiggly enterprise. This Super Market, along with Shop and Wash, and Richard Coiffures were located on Lowell Road, a major part of The Super Duper Shopping Center in Hudson.
By 1977 The Nashua Trust Company, which held the mortgage, foreclosed on the Piggly Wiggly building. Two business remained there as tenants: Richard Coiffures and the Shop and Wash Laundromat and Dry Cleaners. In 1979 Nashua Trust announced its plans to build a new banking facility on this location and the two remaining tenants had to vacate. By 1980 construction was completed and The Nashua Trust moved from its location at 1 Derry Street to open its Hudson Community Banking Center at 71 Lowell Road. Since that time due to bank mergers and closures the Nashua Trust became The First NH Bank and later Citizens Bank. Our second photo shows this site in 2006 – home to Brooks Pharmacy, Citizens Bank, and Hudson Chamber of Commerce. Written by Ruth Parker.
We revisit 74 and 76 Lowell Road! Since the mid 1960’s we have seen major growth and change occur along Lowell Road. This site at 74 and 76 Lowell is no exception!!
This week we look north from Birch and Lowell onto 74 and 76 Lowell Road. Prior to 1966 74 Lowell Road was home to Xavier and Exillia Gagnon and their family. At that time they moved to a house on B Street in Hudson. Xavier was employed and later retired from Johns Manville Products Corp of Nashua. He passed in 1969 after living in Hudson for 43 years. His family included his wife, Exillia, 2 sons, 2 daughters, and 4 grandchildren. By 1966 the house at 74 Lowell was removed and soon replaced with The Hudson ’66’ Service Station; it is now a Sunoco Station.
By 1970 76 Lowell was under construction and it became the home of Star Dry Cleaners, later Anton’s Cleaners. By 1977, as shown in this weeks photo, it was the location of Halls Market. By 1980 the site expanded to include Halls Market, Prime Graphics, Superior Floor Company, and Suzies Donut and Coffee Shop. Over time Halls Market transitioned to Palmer’s Market and Kay’s Diner along with other business like Shear Paradise and Kay’s Laundry. Today this is the location of the popular Suzie’s Diner.
Contrast this photo with the busy intersection at Birch Street we see today and the filled parking lot across the way. Photo taken for publication in the Town in Transition and is part of the Historical Society Collection.
Tiny’s Garage was a legendary source for towing wrecked cars and salvaging and recycling usable parts. To find Tiny’s you traveled south on Lowell Road and took a right turn onto Atwood Avenue and stopped at number 7. Many remember the man called ‘Tiny’, his business, and the family who worked with him.
Chester ‘Tiny’ Sojka grew up in Derby, CN and joined the Civilian Conservation Corps as a young man. After Pearl Harbor he enlisted in the Army and served as a tank mechanic; being stationed in North Africa and Italy. He met his wife Mary while on leave and they were married in December 1944. After his discharge in 1945 he started a garage repairing and towing cars. They settled in Nashua and later moved to Hudson and opened his business here. Over time the business evolved to include salvaging and selling used car parts, especially those which were hard to find. His business included the entire cycle: towing wrecked cars, recycling automotive liquids (gas, oil, antifreeze), breaking down the wrecked vehicle for usable parts, maintaining an inventory of these parts, and selling them to other mechanics and ‘do it yourselfers’ as they repaired vehicles of the same or comparable model. I’m sure many mechanics or DIYers remember going to or calling ‘Tiny’ to see if he had the needed part in stock. I myself recall an ad for Tiny’s that said: Please Drive Safely – We Don’t Need your Business.
Now a dealership for previously owned cars this was the childhood home of John Simo. John was a member of the first graduation class of Alvirne High in 1951. John passed a short while ago but is fondly remembered by people in town and some of his Alvirne classmates.
By 1935 Nicolae and Cornelia Simo with their young family of Victoria and John moved from Nashua to this house at 57 Lowell Road in Hudson. The trolley and later bus services made it possible for Nicolae to commute to his job as a shoe worker at J. F. McElwain Shoe Company in Nashua. Cornelia held a position at Fort Devens in Mass. Daughter Victoria attended Hudson schools and graduated from Nashua High. She was active in 4-H, Scouts, and the youth activities of the Hudson Community Church. After High School she attended the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence. She later married and lived in Conn. John was able to complete his high school in Hudson; being a member of the first class to graduate from Alvirne in 1951. He was also active in 4-H and the youth activities of the Community Church.
This weeks photo shows the Simo home about 1947; the woman seated on the front steps has been identified as Cornelia.
John was one of many Hudson teenagers who worked at Bensons Animal Farm during the summer months. Upon graduation from Alvirne, John and a high school friend of his traveled to Seattle, WA for summer work at The Jolly Green Giant Factory. His friend returned to Hudson to attend college. John remained on the west coast, traveling and working in various states for several years. When he did return to New Hampshire he married Glenda Pratt of Milford and made his home in Milford.
Cornelia passed in 1965; Nicolae continued to live in this house until about 1984 when he moved to Milford with his son John. Nicolae passed in 1989. John remembers his mother as an intelligent woman who was fluent in many languages. His dad had musical abilities with the violin; being able to repeat a tune after hearing it a single time.
By 1984 Lowell Road was becoming a busy commercial road; no longer the rural and residential road of the previous decades. As with many homes along Lowell Road this one at number 57 would transition into commercial use. Many of our readers may recall Dunkin Dogs, a self service dog shampoo parlor and grooming establishment. Today this site is the location of Stellar Motors, a used automobile mart. Thanks to John Simo of Milford for the memories; photo from the Hudson Historical Society collection.
As we continue down Lowell Road one of the earlier industries to establish itself was Scottie Industries; a manufacturer of sneakers and custom neckwear. Offered employment to many folks from Hudson.
Researching the history of an area makes one aware of the changes which occur over time. This is as true with Hudson as perhaps any other town; particularly along our major roadways like Lowell Road where we have seen a major shift from agricultural use to industrial use. By the 1960’s land use was changing and land values were on the increase. As a result taxes were also on the increase and local farm families were finding it harder and harder to earn a living. Younger generations were attracted to good jobs and professions off the farm. At the same time the older generations were of retirement age and were attracted to selling their land at what was, for that time, a good profit.
By 1969 a small industrial area off of Lowell Road on Roosevelt Avenue was under construction. By the summer of 1970 Scottie Industries, Inc was operating a plant for manufacturing canvas footwear. The facility included a warehouse, office area, and an outlet store. For the employees and their families Scottie’s also had a 42×18 foot indoor swimming pool maintained by reliable personnel. New Hampshire and Hudson offered an excellent business climate: lower acquisition costs, lower taxes, and an available labor force. Many from Hudson, particularly women, were employed here. In time full operation was moved to Hudson from Lowell, MA. Scottie’s also had a line of custom neck ware.
Scottie Industries remained in operation into the 1990’s when once again we see changes brought on from competition from larger shoe/sneaker manufacturers. The building at 8 Roosevelt Avenue is currently used as a warehouse for Ashley/Ashbrook Furniture.
This photo of Scottie Industries on Roosevelt Avenue was taken c1975 for use in preparation of “Town In Transition”.
As we continue to travel down Lowell Road and revisit historical sites we come to the power house; used to convert electricity for use by the Nashua Street Railway Company. Electric car service on Lowell Road was discontinued by 1931. A short time after that 48 Lowell Road was repurposed into a private dwelling. This article was first published in August 2016. Since that time the dwelling house remains and the surrounding area re-configured for commercial usage, including a barber shop/salon.
The trolley or electric street cars provided a cheap, pleasant, and relatively rapid form of public transportation in Hudson from 1895-1931. There was a trolley line from Nashua’s Tremont Square (corner of Main and Pearl Street) that proceeded east over the Taylor Falls Bridge thru Hudson via Central Street, Lowell Road, and on to Lakeview and Lowell, MA. The New Hampshire portion of this line was owned by the Nashua Street Railway, but operated under a lease by the Lowell and Suburban Street Railway Company (later known as Bay State Street Railway Company). The power to operate this line was provided by a Bay State owned substation on what is now River Road adjacent to Aeyers Pond.
In 1918 the Bay State Company discontinued service and turned the line back to Nashua Street Railway Company. The Nashua Company chose to operate the line and picked up the previously discontinued service down Lowell Road to Stewerts Corner (junction of Lowell with Dracut and River Roads) making 2-3 trips a day to accommodate workers, students, and week-end picnickers. The needed electric service was no longer provided by the Bay State powerhouse; it was supplied by the Nashua Light, Heat, and Power Company and converted to DC type at 600 volts in Nashua and Hudson. In Hudson, a powerhouse was constructed for this purpose at what is now 48 Lowell Road. This building was of sturdy construction as evidenced by the large beams and crossbeams used in the basement to shore up the main floor of the building.
The end of the electric cars occurred gradually as the auto became more and more affordable and popular. By 1924 they were operating at a loss and by 1931 they were discontinued in Hudson. Soon thereafter, the Powerhouse on Lowell Road was re-purposed into a private residence.
For nearly 50 years, beginning in 1956, this was home to Vincent J. Zelonis and his wife Mary (Wisneski) and their large family. Vincent was a man of many interests and talents – a devoted gardner and accordian player. He worked in the culinary field at a number of resort hotels. He attended technical school and received his diploma in refrigeration and air conditioning. During WWII he served in the Army and maintained HVAC-R equipment at a base in Puerto Rico. After the war he worked for J. Lawrence Hall Co. of Nashua and in 1953 started his own HVAC-R business, Hudson Service Company, where he worked with his sons William, Charles, and Daniel and his brother Richard. Vincent passed in 2005. Son Daniel and his wife Gayle and family continued to reside at 48 Lowell Road until a few years ago when the property was offered for sale. Daniel was a CPA and established his accounting and bookkeeping services here about 1979 until his retirement. Daniel and Gayle continue to live in Hudson and are active in various church and community organizations.
Within the past 2 weeks this property has been sold. After almost 85 years as a private residence, nearly 60 of them with the same family, we are about to witness a new era for this property. Will it be used for residential or will it be re-purposed again?
We share two photos of this property. The first shows the house and business of Vincent Zelonis C 1983 as seen from Lowell Road. The second shows the house as seen from the south side, looking north about two weeks ago. Both photos are from the Historical Society Collection.