Greg Opp, one of the founders of the Hudson Land Trust and our first president – serving from 2018 to 2023 – wrote this article about the history of land conservation in Hudson and the beginning of the Land Trust.

Early History: Before the Pilgrims arrived in North America and established Plimoth Plantation, tribes with names like Narragansett, Ockoocangansett, Wampanoag, and Nipmuck, were living off the land, the rivers, and the lakes in Massachusetts. Hudson’s recorded history began in the early 1600s, when a group of second-generation settlers, an offshoot of the Sudbury settlement, were granted land parcels.[1] This small group of scattered residents lived peacefully with the native people until the mid-1600s, when King Philip, a Narragansett warrior tired of the newcomers’ intrusive rules, instigated a war against the European settlers. Fourteen settlements, including what is now Hudson, were burned to the ground. During the war, many tribe members, under suspicion of being sympathetic to King Philip’s cause, were moved to Martha’s Vineyard, where they lived out the war years. The original native families never returned to Hudson; the surviving family members were resettled in Natick after the war.

Over two centuries later, Hudson was incorporated: Before its incorporation as a town in 1866, Hudson was a neighborhood and unincorporated village of Marlborough, Massachusetts and was known as Feltonville. From around 1850 until the last shoe factory burned down in 1968, Hudson was known as a “shoe town.” At one point, the town had 17 shoe factories, many of them powered by the Assabet River which runs through town. Because of the many factories in Hudson, immigrants were attracted to the town.  [2]

The Impetus for Conservation:  During the 1960s, Hudson’s population roughly doubled from 8,000 to 16,000 with a commensurate decrease in the open space. In the 1970s, a new industry came to town, when Digital Equipment Corporation built a semiconductor fabrication facility on a 160-acre former orchard on Reed Road. When planning this facility, DEC negotiated with the Commonwealth to construct a connector from Route 85 to I-290 and I-495.  (Some time later, this stretch of pavement was named the Argeo R. Cellucci, Jr. Highway. “Junior” brokered the deal in his role as chairman of the Industrial Development Commission.) A shopping center on Technology Drive and a  Walmart store on Rt. 85 were developed in the following decade, thus continuing the consumption of open space.

Conservation Land

To my astonishment, a conservation parcel was acquired by the Town in 1901; the Fosgate Lot on River Road.  Sixty-five years elapsed before the Town again purchased open space, the Morse Lot on Causeway Street. In chronological order, here are the lands acquired and held by the Conservation Commission.

  • Fosgate Lot,  River Road – March 1901
  • Morse Lot, Causeway Street – March 1966
  • Danforth Lot, Lincoln Street – May 1968
  • Buteau Land, Marlborough Street –  May 1993
  • Clement Kane Land, Chestnut Street – November 1998
  • Mayo Property, Falls Brook Road – November 1999
  • Loureiro Land,  Port Street – November 2000
  • Parcel P, Falls Brook Road – November 2002
  • Warner Property, Riverview Street – May 2003
  • River’s Edge, Brigham Street – November 2006
  • Parcel A,  Laurel Drive – May 2008
  • Gerwick Land, Main Street – May 2014
  • Lot A, Wheeler Road – November 2015

This is a total of 14 properties covering 185.4 acres.[4] The impact of development and legislation, such as the Community Preservation Act, can be correlated with the acquisitions. The generosity of Hudson’s landowners also cannot be overstated.

Purpose of the Hudson Land Trust

From the official Bylaws [5], the succinct purposes are to:

  • Promote the conservation and protection of natural resources
  • Preserve and maintain unique scenic and historic sites
  • Preserve land for active and passive recreational purpose
  • Educate the public about preservation and conservation
  • Acquire by gift, purchase, or otherwise, real and personal property;
  • Use exclusively all property held or controlled by this Corporation and the net earnings thereof for the benefit of all the inhabitants
  • Solicit, collect, receive, and otherwise raise funds
  • Work with, cooperate and affiliate with other entities … and individuals.

Next Steps

The Hudson Land Trust organized in August held their first official board meeting in October.  Our goals going forward are:

  • To hold additional open meetings seeking individuals interested in joining this newly formed non-profit.  Information about our membership drive will be available here on our website in the near future.
  • Join the Massachusetts Land Trust Coalition to seek guidance and training;
  • Assist the Community Preservation Committee with legislative compliance by holding Conservation Restrictions on properties purchased using CPC funds, to ensure and protect those lands “are used for the purpose to which they were purchased”;
  • Seek guidance from the Conservation Commission on other properties that may need protection through restrictions;
  • Assist other organizations and Town agencies in educating the community about the importance of protecting our natural resources and open land now and into the future;
  • Create a volunteer base to help with the maintenance and oversight of properties and their uses.

Closing Thoughts

From the Native American tribes to the colonial settlers on down to the modern residents who carry a computer/telephone/camera in their back pocket, a significant element of our commonwealth has been the land.  It is our duty to be stewards of the land, née environment, to preserve it and share our bounty with future generations.

    Maybe I’ll be there to shake your hand
    Maybe I’ll be there to share the land [3]

If you are so inclined, please join us and become a member of the Hudson Land Trust.


Gregory Opp

President, Hudson Land Trust (2018-2023)

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  3. Cummings, Burton, “Share the Land”, 1970, RCA Victor records
  5. Bylaws Hudson Land Trust, Inc. 2018