Remembering the Green Ridge Turkey Farm – Nashua, NH

Do you remember Kimball’s Green Ridge Turkey Farm on Nashua’s Daniel Webster Highway?  Who can forget the giant turkey that once stood atop that iconic sign on DW Highway?  For nearly 60 years,  the Green Ridge Turkey Farm stood on the corner of the DW Highway and Spit Brook Road in Nashua, NH, about two miles north of the state border with Massachusetts.  Its site was historic – the main house of the farm, called the manor house, had been a long-time Nashua landmark, dating to revolutionary times when it had served as a stage-coach hostelry.  Through several ownership changes and one major fire, the Green Ridge served dinners and pies in its restaurant – and not just of turkey, but also seafood; the Green Ridge also served lobster, clams and scallops.

But, of course, Kimball’s Green Ridge Turkey Farm was best known for its turkeys, which were sold either “drawn and ready for the oven” or “cooked and pan roasted”.  The Green Ridge also offered its own dressing and gravy.  The Green Ridge Turkey Farm got its start when George and Grace Kimball bought the 200-acre property in 1931 and soon after opened a farm stand.  Its frontage on the Daniel Webster Highway contributed to the Kimballs’ success, and, by 1938, Mr. and Mrs. Kimball expanded the stand, adding turkey sandwiches and ice cream to its offerings.  Two years later, in 1940, the Kimballs added the restaurant, and the Green Ridge’s reputation for great turkey, supplied directly from their farm, quickly caught on.  The farm quickly grew to accommodate the raising of up to 6,000 turkeys.

An advertisement for the Green Ridge Turkey Farm - 1951

The reputation of the Green Ridge as a restaurant and a turkey farm spread throughout New England during the war years.  Then, during one of its best years, just four days after Thanksgiving, disaster struck the Green Ridge.  At 6 PM on the evening of November 27, 1950, a few hours after the farm had hosted the New England Turkey Growers’ Association, Dr. Frank Flagg knocked on the door of Mr. and Mrs. Kimball’s home.  The Green Ridge, just 100 yards south from where they were sitting, was on fire.  Dr. Flagg and the Kimballs set off to alert the fire department, but couldn’t find a working telephone.  A recent storm had knocked out phone service in the area.  Eventually, others saw the smoke and flames in the sky and the calls began to arrive to the Nashua Fire Department.  The first caller told the fire department that the ‘Green Ridge farm building [was] ready to explode’.  A moment later, a call from the Wayside Furniture Company told the firefighters that something was wrong at the Green Ridge.

The Central and Lake Street stations responded to the fire.  All call men were soon summoned to duty.  Firefighters arrived to find the fire at its peak and the interior of the building was completely engulfed in flames as the smoke rose skyward.  Motorists and nearby residents stopped to watch the fire.  A lack of hydrants in the area meant the firefighters had no available water.  Firefighters rushed the half-mile south to the Allen property and were able to attach a pump to a water hole.  They had finally found water to fight the fire.  But, by then, it was out of control.

By the time the fire was out, the restaurant was a total loss.  George Kimball told reporters he didn’t have adequate insurance coverage to rebuild.   The restaurant had been officially closed for the season just a couple of days before, and would have reopened the next year, on February 22.  The losses were deep, however, and the costs were formidable to replace the lost large dining room, soda fountain, and two deep freeze units, that had been holding 250 turkeys.  The Kimballs put the Green Ridge Turkey Farm on the market.

A buyer came forward and, on March 15, 1951, the Kimballs sold their Green Ridge Turkey Farm to Mr. and Mrs. Howard Flanders.  The Flanders rebuilt the restaurant, and reopened it in July 1952.

The Green Ridge Reopens - July 29, 1952. (Lowell Sun)

The Flanders’ ownership of the Green Ridge was short-lived.  After rebuilding and reopening its restaurant following the 1950 fire, they sold it to the Charpentier brothers, Luc, Victor, and Edmund, in 1954.  The Charpentier family owned the Green Ridge from 1954 through its closing in the mid-1990′s, when it was closed, razed, and replaced by a Barnes & Noble, which still stands at the site.  Still, when driving down the DW Highway in Nashua even today, I still look twice for the turkey that once stood atop the Green Ridge Turkey Farm sign perched near the Spit Brook Road intersection.  Has it really been more than 15 years since it came down?

The Barnes & Noble location in Nashua, NH - on the former site of the Green Ridge Turkey Farm (Photo from: Barnes & Noble)

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21 responses to “Remembering the Green Ridge Turkey Farm – Nashua, NH

  • Heather Wilkinson Rojo

    Great post! We were just talking about the Turkey Farm last week when we drove by the old location. There are lots of folks who still remember.

  • Martha

    Had some great meals there. Very said to see it gone…

  • Maureen Atwood

    Remember Green Ridge and miss it. It was the best ever.

  • Forgotten New England

    Thanks Maureen, Martha, and Heather for your memories. Thanks too to the Growing Up in Chelmsford Facebook Group for sharing this with its members. If you’ve got ties to Chelmsford and surrounding towns, please check their group out.

  • Bob

    My first job was washing dishes at Green Ridge. For lunch you could have anything on the menu expect lobster or stuffed jumbo shrimp. I always got the swordfish stake.

    • Linda Brown

      Bob, I worked there in the 80′s as a waitress. Do you remember Rita? I think her name was Rita….she was elderly by the time I was employeed there. She was one of the managers I believe.

      • Bob

        I don’t remember Rita, but I don’t remember anyone outside of the kitchen staff. I’m not sure I ever saw the waitresses. It was strange in that I never made it out of the kitchen. The first time I saw the restaurant was when we moved there in 1963. We stayed at the hotel right next to it until we found a house to rent. So I had eaten there quite a bit around 1963 and years later it ended up being my first job. I worked all summer and bought my first electric guitar with the money I saved.

      • Linda Maher Brown

        Ha! Great story Bob! I worked there in the late 80′s and remember in the kitchen 2 boys from Brazil. Mello and Juarez……That’s it. I don’t remember any other names…..My brother was a bus boy there and all the waitresses loved him…….I have a picture of me in my uniform and a picture of those boys. I think I will post them on my Greenridge Facebook. Thanks for responding!

  • Linda Brown

    I have a facebook page of the Greenridge Turkey Farm. I have been hoping that old employees would like the page!!! Great memories!

  • Carla Priehs

    I worked at the Green Ridge Steak House, it’s sister restaurant next door

  • SD

    Its a great memory we discussed on Thanksgiving…. Does anyone know if the original owners were related to the Kimball’s of Westford that started the ice cream stand?

  • art

    Wow, I had no idea Green Ridge Turkey Farm was gone. I was planning a rode trip from R.I. to go there and just found out. How sad!

  • Mary Benjamin Thomas

    I have seen pictures of me walking through the turkey farm with my great grandfather Erastus Benjamin

  • Carole Stephan

    I lived in Chelmsford from 1990 through 1999. During the early part of my time there, I discovered the Turkey Farm and fell in love with it. No one came to visit me from out West that they weren’t treated to a fine New Englland turkey dinner at the Turkey Farm. I was devastated when they closed in the mid 90′s. I heard they reopened down somewhere near the coast, but I was never able to locate another restaurant by that name. Great loss!! I’m back in California now, with wonderful memories of some of the greatest turkey pot pies on earth, and sad that I will never again be able to enjoy one.

  • Carole Stephan

    Should have said “New England”

  • Ronnie 'Libertee Belle' Simoneau (Sim)

    I rememeber this place so well as a kid. Even worked there briefly on their wait staff. Been to so many places – And except for my Grandmother’s bird – Nothing comes close ri the turkey from Greenwich. Reading the post brought back such fond memories of my life in Nashua. Thanks.

  • Anthony Cooper

    I worked there as a line cook in the 60′s great place to work.

  • Gail Charpentier

    Victor Charpentier, who purchased the Green Ridge from the Flanders, was my father. As described in the article, Dad – and Mom, Anna M. Charpentier – bought Green Ridge in 1954 from Mr. Flanders. Dad and Mom (Mr. and Mrs. C to their employees) operated the restaurant from1954 through 1966, while I was growing up in Nashua and attending Notre Dame Academy in Tyngsboro as a day student. When Dad died of a long illness. Mom couldn’t
    see herself continuing to operate the restaurant after his death, so my cousin, Luc Charpentier (son of Edmund who co-owned it with Vic and Ann) took over the ownership and operated it until its closing in the mid 1990′s.
    During their ownership, my parents were so proud of their success – a cocktail lounge, addition of a large function room and the delicious Friday Night Buffet. I currently have in my home the Spinnet piano that came from the restaurant.
    Business boomed in the 50′s and 60′s. Many pf the Daniel Webster Highway business owners were so upset with the proposed building of Interstate 93 that would eventually re-route the tourist and ski traffic from Boston to the White Mountains and Lakes Region away from the DW Highway. But they couldn’t foresee that business would continue to be good despite. I still meet people who remember the Green Ridge. How nice to see this article and the posts following it!
    Sadly, my mother, Anna, passed away this month after a long and active life. I miss them both.

  • Charles E. Grigas

    The Green ridge was a N.H. landmark for many years. Whenever I came home from college and later when I was married the famous Greenridge buffet was always at the top of our list of Nashua things to do. I remember Mr’ Dion who used to own Dion’s Bright spot at lake & elm sts. and later Dunstable rd. used to carve the roast beef. ham and Turkey. He used to serve up 5 cent hot dogs to me when I was at Crowley St. school. A nice man and a wonderful place for families to get together for the evning.

    Charlie Grigas NHS 61er

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