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.
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 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?