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Revisit Number 9 School House

82 Old Derry 1921 SS

Number 9 School C 1921

 

Of the ten district schools number 9 is the only house remaining. Each of the others have been demolished and replaced with a dwelling or converted into a dwelling. Number 9 is privately owned by the Jasper Family and was restored by Shawn Jasper in the late 1970’s.

Before 1886 the No 9 house (Kidder District) house was located on what is now Robinson Road. The approximate location was on the left side of Robinson (as you turn up the hill from Old Derry Road) towards the top of the hill. The No 10 house (Hills Row District) was located on what is now Old Derry Road (earlier Derry Road) just north of the intersection with Greeley Street. These two districts were merged into a single district and this No 9 School House was built by the town of Hudson in 1886. It operated as a one-room school house until 1932. In the mid-1930’s Grant Jasper purchased the property from the town. The No 9 Schoolhouse is the only one which survives intact as a school house. In the late 1970’s it was renovated by Mr. Jasper’s grandson, Shawn. The school house is owned by Jasper Corporation.

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Revisit Hudson Schools …District School #1 at Musquash

A typical district school was very basic.  A single classroom where students of multiple grade levels were taught by a single teacher.  There were usually two doors; one to be used by the girls and the other by the boys.  Classroom was heated by a wood stone.  And, by the way, there was no interior plumbing.  The outhouse was located to the rear of the building.  
No 1 School Musquash Rd Hudson

District School #1 at Musquash

 
Early school history of Hudson shows the town divided into 10 districts, each with its own school house.  Shown here is a sepia photo of the No 1 District Schoolhouse known as Musquash. with some of the students standing in front.   The school was located on the east side of the Back Road (now called Musquash Road) at or near the site of the First Meeting House. This house was used for school purposes until 1933.   Relics of the foundation of this school house can be seen in the wooded area behind the marker for the First Meeting House at Musquash.

Presentation of Mary Gates Lowell Road

 

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Early Image of Presentation Gates

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.

Presentation Gate 2018

Presentation Gates 2018

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.

Hudson Center School Bell

Bell at Hills House (640x480)

School Bell at Hills House

Each year as part of the Hudson History Tour students delight in ringing the bell located on the front lawn of the Hills House.  This bell once hung high above Hudson Center in the tower of the old two room school house on Kimball Hill Road.  A few rings from this bell would announce to all the beginning of classes or the end of recess or lunch period.
The Hudson Center School was built in 1908 as a replacement for the Smith School on Windham Road which had burned.  Why this alternate site was selected rather than rebuilding on the original site is not entirely clear; but I suspect it had to to with the need for a reliable and safe water source.  By the beginning of the school year 1908 this bell had been placed in the school  tower  where it would remain for over 65 years. The bell was given to the town by Henry C. Brown, a well known resident of Hudson Center.  Mr. Brown served as Postmaster of the Hudson Center Post Office located in the train station which sat along side the tracks off Greeley Street and behind the Town Hall (not Wattannick Hall). His residence was on Kimball Hill Road opposite the Hudson Center Common and the Baptist Church.  His house became part of the Benson Farm property and was demolished by the state prior to the town’s ownership.
From 1908 until 1956 students from the Hudson Center and even West Windham attended this two room school house for grades 1 thru 6.  I myself remember attending grades 1-3 with Mrs. Marguarite Gilman as teacher; and then grades 4 and 5 with Miss Florence Parker.  By my 6th year we were seeing the possibility of closing this school house due to small enrollment at Hudson Center and available space in the schools in the bridge area.  I attended Webster School for the 6th grade and then on to Alvirne for grades 7 -12.
Charlie and Eric with bell

Charlie and Eric Parker Transporting Bell

The old school closed in 1956 and remained unoccupied until mid 1970’s.  By that time the property and school building were owned by Mr and Mrs Robert Thompson.  In 1974 with the help of the Hudson Fire Department the bell was removed from the tower and placed in the bed of “Charlie” Parker’s pick-up truck.  It was then transported by “Charlie”  and his brother Eric to the Historical Society.  The Society contracted with Adrien Labrie  to construct the bell stand for $485.00.  There the bell remains awaiting the occasional ringing by students or visitors to the grounds — especially during Old Home Days.

St John Parish House and Elementary School

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St John’s and Library Street School c1977

St John Elementary School

This week we continue with Library Street and look at St John’s Parish House and Elementary School.  Two adjacent parcels of land were purchased by the diocese between Connell and School Streets for the elementary school.  The first, adjacent to School Street, was purchased from Julia Robinson in July 1955.  This parcel was next to the town owned tennis courts on School Street and was what remained of a larger parcel which extended up School Street.  The second parcel, adjacent to Connell Street, consisted of land and buildings purchased from Arthur L. Crosscup in August 1956.  This had been the home of Phyllis and Arthur Crosscup and their family.
Ground breaking for the school occurred on April 28, 1957.  While construction was taking place the school actually began classes in the basement of the church under the supervision of Sisters of the Presentation of Mary.  For the next year the Men’s Club and members of the parish pitched in every night to assist with the construction.  As many as 17 men were there helping 2-3 hours each night to prepare for the opening of the school.  In October 1858, after the dedication, the classes were moved into the newly completed school.
By 1962 an 8 room addition was built onto the school to accommodate the growing enrollment.  The first graduation of a full eight years occurred in 1965.  Into the 1970’s enrollment was on the decrease and in 1975 St John Parish announced the school would close as of June 1975.  The St. John’s School Board and the School Board of Hudson worked together on a transition.  A plan was devised whereby the town would lease the building for one year.  After which the town purchased the property and it is now Library Street Elementary School.  This school had made a lasting impression on our town.

St John Parish Center

Diagonally across Library Street from the elementary school and adjacent to the church building, the diocese purchased the former home of Charles and Marguerite Farmer in June 1955.  By 1962 the home was converted into a convent for the Sisters of Presentation of Mary.  It was used for that purpose about 12 years.  By 1978 the building re purposed and enlarged as a Parish center.  The Parish Center was dedicated May 7, 1978.
parish-house-2016

Parish House 2016

During it’s nearly 70 years in Hudson, St. John the Evangelist Church, the Parish, and their  affiliated organizations continue to serve the Town of Hudson.  I think of the Men’s Group (called Holy Name Society), Knights of Columbus an International Organization, Women’s Guild, ,Boy Scout Troop 252, Cub Scouts to name a few.  At the present time and in today’s economy perhaps the most notable is St John XXIII Parish Food Pantry.  Their service began about 1982 as St Vincent de Paul Food Pantry and has grown to providing food  to some 300 different families in Hudson over the course of a year.   The pantry is housed in a major portion of The Parish Center at 23 Library Street.  One project of note is the ‘Feed Our Kids’ Program where the volunteers of the Food Pantry work with the students of Alvirne High School.  This program supplies a backpack with food for eight meals, snacks, and drinks to provide nourishment over the weekend to a number of students.  The food pantry provides the food and the students pack the backpacks and deliver them to the students.  The food pantry receives support from the entire Hudson Community and their services are available to any family within our town.  The photo of the elementary school is from the collection of the Historical Society.  The photo of the Parish House is from the records of the Town of Hudson.

Bronze Tablet Donated by Webster School Students in 1933

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Bronze Tablet Donated by Webster School Students in 1933

While giving tours and talking town history we at the Historical Society frequently hear the question “When was our town established?  The bronze tablet  pictured here  identifies the five birthdays, or founding dates, for our town.
Dunstable, Mass was founded in 1673.  Most of the land contained within the present boundaries of Hudson was included within that town, with the exception of 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 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 until about 1710.  We remained a part of Dunstable, Mass until 1733.
As the number of settlers on this side of the river increased  they 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 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 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 2022, some six years from now, when we celebrate the 250th anniversary of Nottingham West?
 This tablet is located within the School Administration Building,  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.

 

Area Surrounding Library and Webster School C 1910

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Area Surrounding Library and Webster School C 1910

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.