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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.
As we travel down Lowell Road our first stop will be at the Clover Farm Store.
By 1930 Alphonse and Eleanor Steckevicz with their family of 3 boys (Edwin, Alfred, and Chester) and 1 girl (Emma) had moved into their house on Riverside Avenue in Hudson. Alphonse established the Clover Farms Store, a neighborhood grocery, attached to the family home and facing Lowell Road. This C 1935 photo shows the Clover Farm Store and the Shell gasoline pumps taken from Lowell Road. Members of the Steckevicz family who were working at the store are in front. The 1935 Pontiac sedan on the left most likely belongs to one of the customers; if it belonged to the family it would not be parked so as to block customer access to the gas pump!
Alphonse owned and operated this store for about 25 years at which time ho sold to his son, Edwin. Edwin was a 1935 graduate of Nashua High School, a WWII veteran serving in the Army Air Corps. The Clover Farm Store remained under his management until he sold to Ray Lefebvre about 1961. Edwin also served his town as selectman for many years. His store on Lowell Road became a community gathering place. He knew his customers by name. Edwin was often known to open his store at all hours to help a customer in need. Edwin married Josephine Wolen with whom he had 60 plus years of marriage before passing in 2007.
This store continued under the ownership of Ray Lefebvre for many years. This building at the corner of Lowell and Riverside remains to this day; it is currently not used. Most recently it was Cheemas Supermarket. Photo from the Hudson Historical Society collection.
We watch with curiosity at the site work near 77 Central Street and 10 Lowell Road as Sousa Realty and Development prepares this section of town future development. Today we revisit the March 12, 2015 article and this area as photographed in the 1960’s.
In this c1960 aerial photo of Lowell Road and Central Street there are no signs of the traffic or of the traffic lights of today. Central Street runs horizontally along the middle of the photo with Lowell Road coming down towards the right. Just above this intersection is Hurley Street which appears as an unpaved road. In the upper left is the Lions Club Community swimming pool between Library and Hurley Streets. This pool operated between 1954 and 1968, at which time increased operating costs required it be closed. The overpass for the B&M Railroad right of way crossed Lowell Road and proceeded along Central Street towards Hudson Center. The tracks and metal connected with this overpass were removed for scrap metal in 1942; but, the abutments on either side of Lowell Road remained into the 1950’s. By the time of this photo, these abutments had also been removed. The triangular piece of land at the intersection of Central and Lowell is now Hammond Park, The Fire Department Memorial. It is interesting to see the open space around many of the homes with their family or community gardens. I would like to hear from any of our readers who can add to the detail to help date this photo. If you have any ideas please send email to my attention at HudsonHistorical@live.com Photo was donated to the society by the family of Leon and Gerri Hammond.
It is not possible to determine where or at what time the early mills were established in Hudson. From early maps, deeds, and family history we do know that Edward Foster Eayrs operated a mill on Eayrs Pond near the intersection of River and Chalifoux Roads as early 1877. Edward maintained the dam on Eayrs brook to control the water level of the pond and to generate sufficient power for the mill. After his death in 1913 members of his family operated the mill for a while.
Edward Foster Eayrs was born March 1840 in Nashua, a son to John and Lucy (Hartwell) Eayrs. The history of the Hartwell family can be traced to the early 1700’s of NH and MA. Likewise the Eayrs (also spelled Ayers) has a history into the 1600’s. The Eayrs family, John and his brother James, operated a mill in northern Nashua, likely along the Pennichuck brook. Census records credit John as owning a ‘drug mill’ in Nashua; a name which has a different connotation from today. This mill was used to grind herbs and roots which were then used for medicine. Some of these were used by relatives in Lowell for Ayers Sasprillia and other medicines.
Edward worked as a ‘drug grinder’ until his father passed in 1861; after which he worked with his Uncle James. In September 1864 Edward enlisted in the Union Army, serving in Company F, New Hampshire 1st Heavy Artillery. He was mustered out on 15 June 1865 at Washington, DC. Returning to New Hampshire he returned work with his uncle in the mill and later later became a partner. After his uncle passed Edward moved the mill machinery to Hudson, between 1877 and 1880, and began operating the mill at Eayrs Pond.
By 1860 there was a coronet band of about 20 young men under the direction of Edwin T. Baldwin of Manchester and later of Nashua. The Republican Party hired his band during the 1860 presidential campaign for Abraham Lincoln. After the war broke out most members of this band enlisted for four months as musicians in the First NH Regiment. The name of this band was changed to the Nashua Coronet Band. At some point Edward Foster was a member of this band as he was chosen as their president in 1877.
The farm of James Cutter and Abigail (Putnam) Ford were neighbors to the mill at Eayrs pond; living west of River Road on Ford Road (now Chalifoux Road), Their daughter Charlotte Augusta (born June 1857) married Edward Foster Eayers and they built a home on the east side of the pond on River road. Their family consisted of four girls: Ida (born 1884), Lucy (born 1886), Cora Belle (born 1889), and Nellie (born 1890). Of these four daughters we will continue with the line through Cora Belle.
At the age of 20, Cora Belle Eayrs married Walter F. Ducharme of Lowell in July 1909. They had one son, Walter Frederick, born April 1910. This was a short marriage which ended in divorce. In February 1919 Cora Belle married Orin Moody from Rhode Island. The Eayrs home on River Road became the childhood home of Walter Frederick, his mother Cora Belle, and his step-father Orin Moody. Orin worked at the mill until it was sold. The homestead was sold by Moody in April 1939 after living there more than 20 years.
To bring the descendants of Edward Foster Eayrs and Augusta Charlotte Ford up to the present time we find that Walter Frederick Ducharme married Eva Veronica Frenette, a native of Quebec Canada, on November 1927. Their family consisted of Lena, Walter (Sonny), Richard (who died while serving in the Korean War), Doris, H. Eugene, Sylvia, and Joan.
Getting back to the mill and Eayrs homestead. The Eayrs homestead located east of the pond on River Road remains today remodeled into three apartments. The photo of the Eayers Homestead if from the Historical Society collection complements of the Ducharme family.
The mill building at Eayrs Pond likely dates to about 1767. After operation by members of the Eayrs family there have been a number of owners. In August 1969 the mill and surrounding 4 plus acres was purchased by Nashua Optometrist Louis P. Guertin and his wife Shirley. During their ownership the State of NH claimed the pond as it exceeded 10 acres. Since then the state has regulated the dam to control water level of the pond. After Dr. Guertin passed Shirley subdivided the parcel into two lots on Stone Mill Drive. The old grist/saw mill is now a residence at 2 Stone Mill Drive. The early photo of the mill is also from the Historical Society collection complements of the Ducharme family. The current photo of 2 Stone Mill drive is from the town records.
In 2004 a large portion of Lowell Road, including that section near the Presentation of Mary (PMA), was widened to accommodate the increase in traffic. Prior to this project the historic gates embraced the driveway which lead from Lowell Road to the oval in front of the PMA building. Once the right of way for the reconstructed Lowell Road was laid out these gates were found to be in the way and had to be moved. When the project first started it was estimated the gates could be moved for about $50,000. The early image of the PMA gates is from a post card compliments of Gerald Winslow.
When plans were finalized the historic gates would be moved approximately 75 feet back from Lowell Road. Once moved the gates would grace the front of the property but they would no longer embace the driveway to the Presentation. A new and safer driveway entrance to was planned opposite the Executive Drive intersection with Lowell Road. This change in the driveway would also permit safer access of fire equipment to PMA as the modern vehicles were too large to pass under the gate. According to a July 2004 article in the Hudson Litchfield News, once the bid specs for moving the gates were prepared nine bid packages were sent out, but only two actual bids were returned. Both of these had prices far in excess of the planned $50,000.
The gates were not on the National Historic Register but they could be eligible to be on the register and the project to move the gates could not endanger this eligibility. The exterior bricks on the gates had been replaced in 1980. The granite blocks used in the foundation and the wrought iron work on the top of the gate were deemed as the important pieces. In actuality parts of the gate, such as the wrought iron fixtures and the sections on the top and bottom were salvaged and new gates were built back from the widened roadway by about 75 feet. This work was completed in September and October of 2004. The modified driveway was completed in 2003. The recent photo of the gates was taken by the author this past week. I wish to acknowledge an article “Presentation of Mary Gates to be Moved” authored by Lynne Ober which appeared in a July 2004 edition of the HLN.
Popular at the time was The Steak Barn on Lowell Road was located on a part of the Benton Morgan farm. By 1976 a part of his farm where Ben raised cattle, hens, and vegetables was transformed into a modern restaurant and racquet club. The large plastic bubbles housed the racquet (tennis) club. His old chicken house was modernized and converted into the Steak Ban.
The Steak Barn Restaurant and Topspin Racquet and Tennis Club located on Lowell Road c1976. This photo was taken by the Historical Society while preparing for The Town in Transition. The location of the Steak Barn Restaurant The Monroe Muffler Shop (250 Lowell) and the Tennis Club was located in what is now the parking lot for the Walmart Store at 254 Lowell Road.