By Dakota Antelman, Managing Editor
HUDSON – The Hudson Historical Society museum has recently observed an increase in visitors. Still getting settled after their fourth relocation in roughly 20 years, though, Historical Society members have their eyes set on a more permanent home.
Specifically, they’re hoping to see a proposed new cultural space within the renovated structure of the old National Guard Armory in town come to fruition. There, the museum could relocate one last time to a place with guaranteed room for its collection for years to come.
“At least, if we have a home where we’re safe, we’ll open when we can,” society historian David Bonazzoli said in a recent interview.
Historical society traces roots to Hudson’s 50th anniversary
The historical society opened in 1916 to mark the 50th anniversary of Hudson’s founding.
It existed in the Hudson Public Library for much of its history. Roughly 20 years ago, though, the society had to relocate to a space in Town Hall to make room for a library reading room, Bonazzoli said.
Just a matter of years after that, the society had to move again, Bonazzoli said, this time, as town government sought to expand into the office space occupied by the museum.
So, the museum reopened at the Landing at Hudson Mills, a mixed use development inside a renovated old mill building from Hudson’s industrial era. The museum existed in that third location for several years before needing to relocate once again this year.
“They wanted our room because it’s a large room with windows,” Bonazzoli said of the most recent move.
The museum now occupies a smaller, but more centrally located space directly across from an elevator inside the Landing.
It’s been guaranteed five years in its current space on a lease agreement that lets the Historical Society operate in this location without needing to pay rent.
“Things are nice,” Bonazzoli said, specifically noting increased accessibility in this new location thanks to the proximity of that elevator. “We’re trying to get as much interest as we can to get people to come up.”
‘We cannot dissolve’
Still, concerns persist.
“Everyone’s old,” Bonazzoli said of broader trends he’s observed across area historical societies. “Nobody young has the interest or the time or anything else. It’s the same thing here.”
Bonazzoli, who spends his summers in Florida, noted that the museum has just two historical society members opening it on a weekly basis for visitors. If one of those individuals is no longer able to make the trip to the museum, he said, the other won’t do so alone.
As any number of historical societies contend with these kinds of challenges, Hudson is in the somewhat unique situation of lacking a permanent home.
Nearby Marlborough operates its historical society out of the historic Peter Rice Homestead.
Bolton has its Sawyer House for its historical society.
Northborough’s historical society has the town’s old Baptist Church to call home.
Bonazzoli is concerned about the future of the Hudson Historical Society. He said he’s bristled, though, at conversations about ever dissolving the museum.
“We cannot dissolve,” he said. “Hudson is very vibrant now and everything else. You mean to tell me the town of Hudson can’t support their own historical society in one way or another?”
Learn more about the armory project at https://hudsonarmoryproject.org.
Learn more about the historical society by visiting http://hudsonhistoricalsociety.org.