Alvirne Hills House Trees Removed due to Decay

May 22, 2015

by Laurie Jasper

A question on the minds of many in Hudson last week, “Why were the trees taken down at Alvirne Hills House?”

The decision to remove the trees was not made lightly.  The trees suffered greatly from storm damage during this past year’s rough winter.  “The trees were not in very good shape, there was a lot of trunk rot and decay and signs of crown dieback,” said Tim Marshall, owner of Hudson’s Atomic Tree Service, which completed the tree removal.

Recently, the Alvirne Trustees voted to set aside money for Alvirne Hills House property, and a portion of that money will be used for removal of the trees, the planting of new sugar maple trees and the addition of light posts along the driveway.  The trustees, Hudson School District and Hudson Historical Society are working together to ensure the end result enhances the character of Alvirne Hills House, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Alvirne Hills House and surrounding property are owned by the Hudson School District.  The district and the Alvirne Trustees, who administer the trust left to the town by Dr. Alfred K. Hills and his successors, oversee the properties.  Dr. Hills and his second wife, Ida Virginia, built their Victorian summer home on Hills family land in 1890, and he named the house “Alvirne” by combining their names.  Dr. Hills died in 1920 and bequeathed to the town money to build a vocational school.  His third wife, Jessie Norwell Hills, helped to make his wishes a reality, and Alvirne High School was built in 1950.  Jessie died in 1963, and Alvirne Hills House was left vacant and even vandalized.  At that point, the school district talked of tearing the house down.  The Hudson Historical Society formed in 1966 and has been a tenant of the house since then, preserving a museum of Hudson history and maintaining the home.

As shown in the old photos from 1890 provided by the society, the trees were not part of the original landscape of the property when the home was first built.  A careful look shows there once was a stone wall along what is now Route 102, with what appear to be fruit trees along the wall.

While it is unclear when the trees were planted, Alvirne’s forestry students hope to find the answer.  “Our forestry students and their teacher Mike Gagnon participated in the process.  They knocked down three trees and sorted the branches for Atomic.  It was a strong learning experience,” said Alvirne Principal Steven Beals.  Atomic Tree Service saved a section of one of the trees for the students to bring back to the classroom to study.

Now that the trees have been removed, Hudson’s Highway Department will next remove the stumps, which is a huge job and a big help to the project.  “We do whatever we can to help out, we do a lot for the schools, and we’re glad we can,” said Road Agent Kevin Burns.  Alvirne Farm Manager Emery Nadeau will be preparing the area for the trees, which will be planted by Atomic Tree Service the week of May 25.