HUDSON – Hudson has a new mural in its downtown area.
Discussions about murals began last year among board members of the Hudson Downtown Business Improvement District (BID). They decided on a mural topic, location and artist a few months later.
A historical mural depicting Portuguese descendants’ migration to Hudson was then installed on Tuesday on the east wall of the Flax Building at the intersection of Manning and Main streets.
“A couple of us had walked the district to determine the best spot for our first mural and maybe others afterward,” said District Administrator Richard Braga Jr. “In light of the artwork’s context, we felt it might appeal to the Flax Building owner, who is of Portuguese descent.”
‘A learning tool’
The Flax Building is owned by Silvino Cabral. His family migrated from Santa Maria to Hudson when he was age 13.
“This mural is a learning tool for the younger generation who were born here,” Cabral said. “They’ll look at it and ask questions about why their grandparents migrated here. They came here to work and improve their lives.”
Flanked by Portuguese and American flags, the mural shows a road connecting a Santa Maria church with Hudson’s St. Michael Church. Notably, the mural and the actual St. Michael Church building are located on either end of the same block on Manning Street.
Pictured on the mural’s road from the Santa Maria church is an ox cart leading women carrying bread loaves on their heads. That custom is duplicated locally when a Holy Ghost Feast procession travels annually from St. Michael Church, along Main Street and ends at the Hudson Portuguese Club.
Also depicted are Portuguese descendants working in a shoe factory, which was once a prevalent jobsite in Hudson.
“It tells you the whole story,” Cabral said of the mural.
Drawing from experience
The BID chose artist Paula Frechette to paint the 8-by-16-foot mural with acrylics on aluminum composite. She previously created murals for several restaurants and the Greater Merrimack Valley Visitors Center on I-495.
“We gave Paula a simple idea and she really put a whole story together,” Braga explained. “She did a ton of research and came back with a rendering.”
Frechette approached the task with the experience of a former downtown Hudson business owner. She and her husband Jack Mullahy owned the Sidetrack Café on Main Street in the early 1980s. Additionally, they opened Wood Square Design in 1991 and sold the business in 2005 – before the BID formed in 2018.
Now, Frechette is thrilled to contribute to downtown Hudson’s revitalization with a mural.
“I’ve always believed that the town has had terrific potential,” she said. “Downtown Hudson is beautiful now. I love anything that enhances the downtown.”
The BID is open to financing additional artwork, Braga noted.
“We’re interested in improving our cultural arts footprint,” he said. “More murals could be in our future.”
They won’t need to look far for an artist.
“I’d love to do more murals,” Frechette said.