Erected in 1909 by Dr. Hills
One of Hudson’s most beautiful landmarks is the Alvirne Memorial Chapel, located on the Derry Road (Route 102) just a short distance north of the intersection with Elm Avenue. This Tudor style chapel was built by Dr. Alfred K. Hills in memory of his deceased wife, Ida Virginia Creutzborg on land purchased for this purpose by Dr. Hills. The name “Alvirne” was taken from their beautiful summer home on the Derry Road. This home was built some 18 years earlier (1890) by Dr. Hills and presented to his wife for a Christmas gift. The chapel has been used for services by various groups and denominations; more recently it has become a popular place for weddings. In the early 1900’s the chapel was easily reached by the Manchester electric trolley at Derry Lane. After leaving the trolley, the chapel was a five minute walk away.
Adapted from English Country Chapels
The building is an adaptation of some of the best examples of English country chapels. The exterior walls were constructed of weathered granite. It is said that this granite was taken from ancient stone walls of the Hills Farm Cemetery. The roof is solidly constructed and covered with heavy graduated slate in various shades of green and purple; the cornices and trimmings of the roof are in heavy copper.
Oak was the wood of choice for the interior. This wood was used for all the trusses and beams in the ceiling, doors, and choir stalls. The interior walls are lined with gray brick. The floor is red Grueby tiles laid in a pattern of hexagons and quatrefoils. The walls of the chancel are also lined with Grueby tiles, many of them made especially for this chapel. Symbols of the Evangelists and other church symbols are shown on some of these tiles. The floor of the chancel is of gray Tennessee marble; the altar is of this same material. The front of the altar contains the letters “I.H.S.”and a cross of gold.
The windows are of stained and leaded glass which is set directly into the stone. The colors of purple and amber were used in the stained glass; giving a pleasing and warm tone to the interior of the chapel. The outside of the windows is protected by heavy copper wire screens.
Belfrey and Bell
The gable over the chancel is marked by a granite cross. On the front gable there a small belfry containing a cast bronze bell. A recent close up photo of this bell revealed that the bell placed in this chapel by Dr. Hills in 1908 is the very same bell donated by Dr. and Mrs. Hills for the Chapel of The Holy Angels on Lowell Road in 1890. That chapel closed C 1905 and Dr. Hills saved the bell; only to use it again 3 years later.
Small Vestry and Doors
On the south side of the chapel is a small vestry with a fireplace and a separate entrance. This provides a place for records and for a gathering place for processions prior to service. The entrance to this vestry and to the main chapel is through large oak doors, made extra heavy and thick, paneled and cusped, and ornamented with heavy wrought iron hinges made from a special design.
Architect and Builder
The building was designed by architect Hubert G. Ripley of Boston. Plans were completed and construction started in 1908. The builder, John W. Duff also of Boston, worked under the supervision of Mr. Ripley. Mr. Ripley was also the architect for the Hills Memorial Library and the library at the ”Alvirne” supper home.
Consecrated in 1909
The chapel was consecrated on November 12, 1909 with the Rev. William Niles of Nashua, and the Rev. William M. Grosvenor of New York, officiating. Of the four crypts under the chancel only two are marked. These identify the resting places of Dr. Alfred K. Hills and his wife Ida Virginia. We do know that once the chapel was completed the remains of Mrs. Hills and their two infant children were laid to rest within the chapel. At the rear of the chapel there is a scroll plaque in memory of the children. Given this information it is concluded that the remains of the children were interred with their mother. The infants were Gladys Marguerite, who died in 1891, and Mary Virginia, who died in 1895. Gladys Marguerite and Mary Virginia were the only children born to Dr. Hills. During his lifetime Dr. Hills was constantly seeking to add something to embellish both the interior and the exterior of the chapel.
Today the chapel and surrounding grounds are maintained and administered by the Alvirne School Trustees. In the mid 1960’s under the direction of the trustees, the chapel was landscaped and the immediate area generally cleared of trees. Indeed this chapel is a permanent part of Hudson’s heritage. This was made possible by the man known as Hudson’s greatest benefactor, Dr. Alfred K. Hills.