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The first Touchdown scored for Alvirne football was on March 4, 1994 at the School District meeting when 450 voters approved the beginning of football at Alvirne. The final score was 232 in favor and 210 opposed, a mere 22 vote margin. Yes, there had been prior attempts at a football program; one as early as 1967, and many in the 1980’s. As I researched for this story, I could see that 1994 was different; the first time that Alvirne school administration officially endorsed the idea even though the School Board and the Budget Committee did not.
Alvirne’s enrollment in 1995 made it the seventh largest Class L high school in the state but ranking poorly when it came to competitive athletic programs. This was affecting the students, the school spirit, and even educational and scholarship opportunities for college.
Alvirne Athletic Director, Clyde Meyerhoefer, presented a well thought out three-year plan to the voters. The first year, $63,250 budget, would include equipment for 60 players coaching staff, transportation, and game officials. The second year, $42,000 budget, would expand the number of players to 80. The third-year budget would be $32.000. The program started at the junior varsity (JV) level and expand to the varsity level. Support for football came mostly from towns people who were active in Pop Warner football and who wanted their family members to continue to play the sport even into college.
Alvirne football began in the fall of 1995. The 1996 class yearbook proudly recorded the excitement and success of the first Alvirne football team coached by Howard Sobolov to a record of 3 wins and 4 losses. Alvirne football jersey #22 was retired as a tribute to the mystical 22 vote margin at the 1994 school meeting and successful plan spearheaded led by Clyde Meyerhoefer. That framed jersey hangs to this day in the office of Karen Bonney, Alvirne Athletic Director.
Stadium lights were added to the field complex through the generosity of the Alvirne Trustees by September 1996; thus, enabling the first home game in Alvirne’s history on Friday evening September 13,1996. It was a rainy cool night and the football fans stood alongside a fence overlooking the field or stood on the back of pick-ups to get the best vantage point. Bleachers and an announcement booth were added by September 1999.
Over the past 20+ years Alvirne football has had some successes while other years have been more challenging. At the end of the day, as AD Karren Bonner reflects, it is about providing students the opportunity to represent their school and their community.
So, we ask, when did earlier attempts to start a football program occur and why did it take so long to become reality?
The earliest I found was in 1967. There was no specific warrant to start a football program, a $3,500 line item was included in the annual school budget for football at Alvirne. This led to much discussion, amendments to the article, and even amendments to the amendments! After lots of discussion and compromises between the School Board and the Budget Committee, the football program was removed from the budget (and expressly prohibited). These are the actual words used by the Telegraph reporter about the meeting. The budget was then approved without football.
During the next 10 to 15 years there was a lot of competition for money within the School District. The completion of Memorial School, the athletic field complex at Alvirne, the fire and rebuild of Alvirne, and the growing need for additional elementary classrooms. During this same time, the annual school budget were often cut by the voters at the annual meetings.
As we entered the 1980’s there was one attempt with an article in 1981, but it never came to a vote. Interest picked up again in 1985 with the introduction of two warrant articles requesting permission to start a football program and to raise $50,000 for it. After much discussion, the voters agreed to form a committee to study the possibility and report back at the meeting in 1986. For the 1986 meeting there was a $790,000 bond issue to expand the physical education facilities at Alvirne. Football startup was a part of this article. 300 people attended the School district meeting at Memorial School. In the end this article was overwhelmingly defeated by a vote of 236 of 58. Another proposal was presented in 1987 which called for $132,000. After about 30 minutes of debate this was defeated 298-70. That brings us up to the successful proposal spearheaded by Clyde Meyerhoefer in 1994.
That leaves the question “Why did it take so long?” These past few months I have had occasions to reminisce with some Alvirne alumni. The question of football and why it took so long often came up. Many alumni, myself included, remembered hearing that football at Alvirne was forbidden because the Hills Family who donated the money to start the school had a son who was severely injured or killed playing the sport. Many had heard it, but none could site the source. My research and the research of many before me have shown this rumor to be false; in fact, Dr. and Mrs. Hills did not have a son. So, let’s look at some more realistic reasons for the delay.
Alvirne began as a small high school in a small town where the initial building was funded by the trust funds of Dr. Hill’s family. The growth of school enrollment was aided by students from neighboring towns such as Litchfield, Pelham, and Windham. These neighboring towns paid tuition which helped with the expenses but the decisions for expansion were made by the Hudson voters.
As a small school in the 50’s and 60’s we concentrated on basketball, track and field, soccer, and baseball. Until the mid-60’s and later with the growth of Pop Warner in town football at the high school did not enter the picture.
There was always competition for school money. We saw this as we reviewed discussions from the various school district meetings. I think of the 1967 school meeting where press coverage of the meeting stated that football was removed from the budget and expressly forbidden. This fact could have fueled the rumor.
Clyde Meyerhoefer and his family came to Hudson in 1974 when he became a teacher/coach. He coached many sports including soccer, track, and baseball. In 1985 he became the Athletic Director, a position he held until 1999 when he moved to Belmont, MA. He served there for three years before he passed in 2002. His impact extends far beyond Alvirne. He was respected locally, at the state and national level for his work as an athletic director. During his career he was the recipient of many awards, including NH Athletic Director of the Year 3 times. The NH Athletic Director’s Association continually recognizes his contributions in this state by presenting the Clyde Meyerhoefer Award each year to a NH athletic director with 3 years or less experience.
Karren Bonney, the present AD, joined the Alvirne staff in 1985 when Clyde became the AD. When Clyde moved to Belmont in 1999, she was promoted to AD. To Karen, Clyde has been a special colleague and mentor, even after he moved to Belmont.
Any reader, especially alumni, who would like to share their memories with this story are encouraged to add their comments by clicking on the comment line at the end of this story.
The following sources were used to research for this article: Hudson School District Annual Reports, Nashua Telegraph, Hudson Litchfield News, Alvirne Yearbooks, as well an inputs from a member of the Meyerhoefer family, and current Alvirne AD, Karen Bonner. Researched and written by Ruth Parker
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.
Have you ever wondered about the history behind the H. O. Smith Elementary School and the family background of Dr. Smith?
During the dedication of the Hudson Junior High School on November 5. 1939 long time School Board Member Dr. H.O. Smith provided a brief educational history of Hudson. The first school in town dates to 1766 when 15 pounds was voted by the citizens of Nottingham West for education. Five years later the sum was reduced to eight pounds and during the Revolutionary War no sum of money was allocated for that purpose. The town was divided into ten districts with each district responsible to provide a location for class and salary for the teacher. Since, for the most part, pupils walked to school these districts divided the town by residential groupings and the school house conveniently located within each district. At first private homes were used for classrooms.
The first school building was built in 1806 at or near the crest of Kimball Hill. This was district #5, known as the Center District, Other district buildings were built and soon after 1810 there were 10 district houses located in town.
Not until 1847 were the number of pupils recorded. At that time there were 346 pupils and the education costs totaled $433; approximately $1.25 per pupil! The teaching staff consisted of men and women. Men were typically hired for the winter months and women for the summer months. Men teachers received between $16 and $18 per month which was significantly more than the salary for a woman teacher. There was a town wide committee which reviewed the qualifications of and issued certificates for the teachers.
This concept of local management of the schools continued until 1885 when the town voted to operate as a single district and the first School Board consisting of Kimball Webster, Dr David O. Smith, and Daniel Gage was selected. Hudson was one of the few towns to adopt this system before it became a state requirement. Under the town system use of the local schools were continued; they were phased out over time as new or expanded facilities were available.
By 1935 all Hudson pupils in grades 1-8 were educated at either Kimball Webster School at the bridge or at a school at Hudson Center. Webster was built as a 4 room house in 1896 and later expanded to 8 in 1921. At the Center the D.O. Smith School was built in 1896 as a 2 room house on Windham Road. This school was destroyed by fire in 1907 and replaced by the Hudson Center School on Kimball Hill Road. Pupils in grades 9-12 were educated in Nashua with Hudson paying the tuition,
The completion of the Hudson Junior High School on School Street in 1939 near First Street provided 6 classrooms, an auditorium/gym, manual and domestic arts, an office, and a large study room. Upon graduation pupils would be eligible to attend any high school in the state. Hudson contracted with Nashua High School.
At the final assembly In June 1940 of the Hudson Junior High school there occurred a special ceremony which is remember to this day my members of Dr. H.O. Smith’s family, Dr. Smith was invited to come to this assembly and to bring his son and grandchildren with him so they might see the new school. The doctor was visibly overcome with emotion when his granddaughter, Elizabeth, unveiled a portrait of him at the climax of the program. This portrait was a gift to the school from a group of Hudson citizens as a tribute to Dr. Smith’s interest and dedication to the education and well being of the people of Hudson. The portrait was placed in a prominent place in the upper hallway of the school. It was attractively set in a walnut frame made by Bertram Tardif, Manual Arts teacher of the school. The wood for the frame originated from a discarded piano from the Hudson Center School. Placed there in 1940 it remains to this day. Accompanying Dr. Smith on that day was his son Dr. Deering Smith of Nashua and his granddaughter Elizabeth Deering Smith and grandson Robert Greeley Smith.
Dr. Henry Onslow Smith was born in Hudson December 1864. After graduating Nashua High School he attended Dartmouth college for two years and then entered Bellevue Hospital Medical college in New York. After completing his studies and a year of residency he returned to Hudson at the age of 24 in 1888 to begin his 57 year medical practice. In 1940 he was granted a degree of bachelor of arts by the Board of Trustees at Dartmouth college. In May 1945, after completing a house call for one of his patients, he passed suddenly.
Many knew him as Dr. Harry or as Dr. H.O. He was devoted to his medical profession and also to the education and affairs of the people of Hudson. One tribute to him stated “Dr. Smith himself was never old in spirit.” He greeted all ages as if they were his friends. He welcomed new residents and kept in touch with his old friends. He had a respect for the past and found great pleasure in genealogy and town and state history. I have a personal respect for Dr. H. O. when I reach for a book at the historical society which came from his personal library; often times finding annotations in his own handwriting which offer corrections or updating of the material written in the book.
Dr. Harry came from a family of physicians and educators. His father, Dr. David O. Smith was also a lifelong physician in Hudson and he served on Hudson’s first School Board. His brother Dr. Herbert L. Smith and his son Dr. Deering G. Smith practiced in Nashua. Two uncles from his mother’s family were also doctors. His father, Dr. David O. and his grandfather Alvan Smith served on the school committee. His parents were both school teachers in Hudson. In fact David O. Smith earned most of his money for his medical expenses by teaching a private school.
In 1951, after the completion of Alvirne the Junior High building was repurposed and dedicated as H. O. Smith Elementary.
Hudson is unique in that two physicians David O. and Henry O. Smith, father and son each served on the school board and each had a school named in their honor. It has been said and I will repeat it: Dr. Harry and the role he and his family played in Hudson cannot be matched. Thank you Doctors! These photos are from the collection of the Hudson Historical Society. Research and written by Carol Flewelling and Ruth Parker. Published in Nashua Telegraph June 28, 2020.
While giving tours and talking town history we at the Hudson Historical Society frequently hear the question “When was our town established? The bronze tablet pictured here identifies the five birthdays, or founding dates, for the Town of Hudson.
Dunstable, Mass was founded in 1673. Most of the land contained within the present boundaries of Hudson was included within Dunstable, the exception being about 4,600 acres in the northeast part of Hudson which was then a part of Londonderry. The geography of Dunstable included land on both sides of the Merrimack River including all or parts of some 14 towns in present day Mass and NH. In the early days of Dunstable land had been granted on the east side of the river but no real settlements occurred here until about 1710. We remained a part of Dunstable, Mass until 1733.
As the number of settlers on the east side of the river increased, we petitioned Mass to be set off as a separate town. This petition was answered on January 4, 1733 when the charter for Nottingham, Mass was granted this town included all Dunstable lands on the east side of the river. The General Court ordered that a Town Meeting be held within 3 months and a minister be settled within 3 years. After survey and much debate, the center of the town of Nottingham, Mass was agreed upon and a meeting house built on what is now Musquash Road. The town of Nottingham, Mass remained as such for only 9 years, until 1741.
The ancient boundary between the provinces of NH and Mass was based upon the Merrimack River and the misconception that the river flowed from west to east; with no idea of the abrupt bend northward the river made near Chelmsford. This resulted in some dual grants by the rival provinces of NH and Mass and a boundary dispute which was not settled until 1741. At that time the line was established to run 3 miles north of the Merrimack River from the ocean until reaching a specific point north of Pawtuckett Falls; after that the line ran due west to the Connecticut River. All land south of this line was in Mass. Land to the north was in Nottingham,NH; called by many historians as the District of Nottingham as the towns had not yet been incorporated under the laws of The State of NH.
During the time after 1741 a number of smaller New Hampshire towns were spun off from Nottingham and were incorporated within NH. One of these, Nottingham West was incorporated in 1746 and a charter issued July 5, 1746. Nottingham West contained most of the lands of the present town of Hudson, except for those acres in Londonderry and minor adjustments to the boundaries with Windham and Pelham.
We remained as Nottingham West until 1830. At the annual town meeting of 1830 the voters of Nottingham West adopted an article to petition the General Court of NH to alter the name to Auburn or to designate some other name. The name was changed to Hudson July 1, 1830.
Our town has 5 founding dates or birthdays. In 1672 we were established as Dunstable, MA; 1733 as Nottingham, MASS; 1741 as the District of Nottingham, NH; 1740 as Nottingham West, NH; and in 1830 as Hudson, NH. This confuses our celebrations! In 1933 we celebrated the 200th birthday of incorporation of Nottingham, Mass; in 1972, some 39 years later, we celebrated the 300 birthday of the founding of Dunstable! To my knowledge there was never a centennial or bi-centennial celebration for Nottingham West and no centennial celebration for changing name to Hudson in 1830. So, when will our next celebration be? perhaps in the year 2030, some ten years from now, when we celebrate the 200th anniversary of changing our name to Hudson?
This bronze tablet is located within the School Administration Building on Library Street, aka Kimball Webster School, and was donated to the Town by the students of Webster School as part of our 1933 bi-centennial celebration. Photo taken for publication of Town in Transition and is part of the Historical Society collection. Researched and written by Ruth Parker on behalf of the Hudson Historical Society. Nashua Telegraph March 22, 2020.
This building which began as a school house in Peterborough, NH was moved to Hudson in 1929. It was moved a second time in 1941 where it found a permanent use by our town Recreation Department until it was replaced in 1985.
In 1929 Hudson was in the midst of the depression and money was tight. Extensive repairs had been completed to the Webster school building as the result of the recent fire. These repairs placed the facility in a better condition than before the fire. Hudson’s total school enrollment was 457 students: 356 at Webster, 58 at Hudson Center, 23 at No. 1 District school at Musquash, and 20 at No 9 District on Derry Road (now Old Derry Road). Yes!! Two of our local district schools were still operating at that time. Also, there were almost 100 Hudson students who were attending private elementary schools. Despite the depression it was apparent to the school board that an additional classroom was needed at Webster. They were fortunate to locate an available portable school house from the district of Peterborough. This building was secured, moved to Hudson, and placed behind the Webster school house in time for the 1929 school year. This annex to Webster immediately acquired the nickname of the “portable”.
The “portable” served Hudson quite well. It provided a make-shift class room which could be used for any grade(s) until another school building and/or school room became available. One year the “portable” was used for grade 1 and grade 3. Another year, for example, for grade 2 and grade 3. And so it continued. The depression continued into the 1930’s. The school board continuously looked for ways to decrease the cost of the elementary grades. At the same time the number of students attending Nashua Junior and Senior High was increasing. In 1933 the No.1 school house was closed due to cost and enrollment. This saved the district over $800 but added to the congestion at Webster. This situation continued until Hudson obtained a federal grant and made plans for a Junior High school building. Land was purchased and The Hudson Junior High school was built on School Street at the corner of what is now First Street near Oakwood Street. In 1939 the junior high was completed and Hudson students in grades 7,8,9 were schooled there; thus reducing the tuition spent to Nashua. This also relieved the pressure at Webster and made possible the closing of the “portable”. At that time grades 1-6 attended either Webster or Hudson Center’ graded 7-9 attended Hudson Junior High, and grades 10-12 were tuition students at Nashua.
The “portable” was used as a Webster annex until the end of the 1938 school year; almost 10 years. At the School District meeting in March 1939 the “portable” building was made available to the youth of Hudson. A short time after the building was moved from the rear of Webster onto School District land at the corner of First Street and Oakwood Avenue. A Recreation Committee of 5 persons was formed and organized activities for the youth of Hudson during the weeks of school summer vacation began to take root.
By 1953 there were 300 children and teenagers participating in the 9 week schedule of supervised summer activities ranging from playground activities, little league, and crafts. One special event such as doll show, pet show, bicycle parade, father and son baseball, or a trip to Benson’s was scheduled for each week. These events were held at the Youth Center on Oakwood Street and area fields: the ball field behind the Junior High, tennis courts located at the Robinson playground on School Street, and the ball field at the corner of School and Library Streets. This last field is now the site of the Leonard Smith Fire Station. At the School District meeting March 1954 the so called “portable” lot at the intersection of First and Oakwood Streets was deeded by the School District deeded to the town of Hudson for use by the town Recreation Committee.
Our first photo shows the Youth Center aka the old “potable” facing Oakwook Street C 1975. This building remained in use through the summer program of 1984 at which time it was replaced as a project of the Lions Club. The new building was 2,160 square feet and contained a large meeting room, heating facilities, an office, and space for a kitchen. The Lions Club donated the cost of this building with the assistance of many tradesmen, suppliers, and individuals in town who worked on the project at or below cost. The building committee consisted of Alvin Rodgers, Gus Piantidosi, Richard Millard, and Phillip Rodgers as chairman. The keys to the new youth center were turned over to Recreation Commission Chairman Paul Hamilton and Selectman John Bednar who thanked the Lions for their contribution to the community. While making this presentation Lions Club President Roger Latulippe stated that the new recreation building was donated to the town and its citizens as a token of gratitude for the many years of support shown to the club. Credit was specifically given to Paul Dawkins who wired the building at no cost and to the Snowmen snowmobile club who hung sheetrock at no cost.
Our second photo shows the Rec Center at it appears in 2019. Under the direction of Dave Yates, Recreation Director our recreation department now includes activities at this location plus the facilities at Robinson Pond, the playground and ball field at Hudson Center, activities at the Community Center (previously Lions Hall), senior services at the North Barn, and numerous ball fields and playground distributed through town. The 1975 photo is from the collection at the historical society. The current photo was taken by the author.
On September 6, 1967 the much needed middle school, Hudson Memorial School, was opened under the leadership of Principal James Tierney. With this facility a comprehensive educational program geared towards the middle school grades would provide transition from elementary grades to high achool. The total school enrollment that year was 2,177; 582 students attending grades 6-8 at Memorial, 721 in grades 1-5 attending H.O. Smith and Webster; 874 attending Alvirne. In addition to the core subjects the curriculum would include music (vocal and instrumental), remedial reading, science, library, foreign language, industrial arts, home economics, guidance, and physical education. This facility would be amongst the best in the state.
Hudson Memorial provided a permanent home for the Junior High pupils of Hudson. Prior to 1951 grades 7 and 8 attended Hudson Junior High at the corner of School and First Streets. Once Alvirne was completed In 1951 they attended that school along with the Senior High. at which time the Junior High was changed to an elementary school and renamed The H.O. Smith Elementary School. As school enrollment increased and the H.O. Smith Annex completed these graded were moved to the Annex. With further increases in enrollment and the building of an addition to Alvirne in 1965 the 7 and 8th grades were returned to Alvirne. This was considered a stop-gap measure until the construction of a new middle school.
Before the 1965 School District meeting the School Boad obtained educational specifications for an upper elementary building, formed a study group of lay citizens to work with them to determine the needs, possible site selection, and building requirements. The architectural firm of Irving W. Hersey was utilized for preliminary drawings and plans. This information was presented to the voters in preparation for the meeting. Voters approved $1,000,000 bonding for the construction of this school with the understanding that a public hearing is held once a site is selected and detailed plans in place but before project is put out for bid.
In 1966 approximately 22 acres was purchased between Central Street and Thorning Road from Earl C. and May Mizo and John Powlowski and a construction contract was signed with Davidson Construction of Hookset. The projected completion was for the spring 1967 and ready for use by September 1967. Completion date was met but the voters were presented with an overage because of some contractual issues and problems with the grading and paving.
At the dedication and open house October 29, 1967 the keys to Hudson Memorial School were presented by the architectural firm to Leonard A. Smith, Chairman of the Building Committee and Donald C. Shepard, Chairman of the School Board. Other members of the building committee were Royce Albee (deceased), Roger M. Boucher, Vincent F. Braccio, Paul W. Buxton, Maurice R. French, Joseph Gonda, Paul E. LeClair (also on School Board), and Philip G. Rodgers. Other members of the school board were Leo N. Bernard, John P. Lawrence, and William Roberts.
This day in October 1967 there was a double dedication. The gymnasium of the new middle school was dedicated to the memory of SP4 Leonard Nute, a Hudson serviceman killed in Vietman on May 25, 1967. “Lenny” was a 1965 graduate of Alvirne and the first casuality from Hudson in Vietman. A memorial plaque placed outside the main entrance to the gymn was donated by the Hudson Lions Club. Leonard King Nute’s name appears on Panel 20E Line 105 of the Vietnese Wall in Washington, DC.
Each year before Memorial Day, Hudson Memorial School honors “Lenny” Nute with members of the Nute family in attendance, particularly older brother Gene Nute. May of 2017 was different. This was the 50th anniversary of Hudson Memorial School and it was likely the last such ceremony that brother Gene, or a member of the Nute family would be able to attend.
School enrollment continued to increase after the school year 1967-68. At the School District meeting in March 1969 voters were asked to approve the construction of an addition. After an extended meeting this was approved at a cost of $744,000. Shortly after this meeting a contract was signed with Davidson Construction Company to provide complete services for the building addition. Ground breaking occurred in April with a completion date of February 1970, with a hope that several classrooms would be available by September 1969. A shortage of mason workers slowed the progress. As September 1969 approached it became obvious that these classrooms would not be available by September. A decision was made to partition the gym into 6 classrooms, the library into 2, and to use a large storage area as an additional room. With these 9 temporary classrooms the school year 1969-70 began. By the following school year construction was completed and the library, gym, and storage space returned to their intended purposes.
As we fast forward to 2019 the curriculum at Hudson Memorial has expanded to include music (a jazz band, chorus, and general music), drama, art, health, computers, technology, as well and family and consumer science. Within the sports department students can participate in interscholastic soccer, cross-country, basketball, wrestling, baseball, softball, and volleyball.
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 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.