Hopedale History
    March 15, 2005
    No. 34
    The Road to Hopedale

    Those of you who lived in Hopedale in the forties and early fifties probably remember Rev. J. B. Hollis
    Tegarden, the minister at the Unitarian Church.  At some point during his tenure in Hopedale, one of
    the Draper families gave him a Steinway upright piano; it was used in the parsonage at 46 Adin Street
    for many years and remained in his family after he left Hopedale.  

    A few months ago Rev. Tegarden’s granddaughter, Debbie Tegarden, contacted some people in
    Hopedale to say her mother was moving and no longer had room for the piano. Debbie expressed a
    desire to donate it to a public facility in Hopedale where it could be cherished and enjoyed as she truly
    believed the piano belonged in Hopedale. After months of trying to find a suitable location, Alan Ryan
    worked with Bill Gannett and Mike DiOrio at the Community House to secure its placement there.  The
    piano will be shipped to Hopedale soon.

    Historical Commission members and Friends of Historic Hopedale members were able to meet
    Debbie and her husband, Rod Bass, in January when they drove up from their home in Princeton, NJ,
    to attend the Crystal Ball as guests of the Friends.  Community House members, including Bill
    Gannett and Kathy Binney, provided Debbie and Rod a tour of the piano's new home the day after the
    Crystal Ball.


    I recently finished typing Gordon Hopper’s history of the Hopedale Fire Department.  It had been
    printed in the Milford News in 1975 in two parts.  I did the first part a while ago, and now you can see
    the second part at

    In 1936, Lilla Bancroft wrote some memories of her mother, Sylvia Thwing Bancroft.  I thought it would
    make a good addition to the website so I put it on a few days ago.  It’s at  


    I’m sure some of you have read Hopedale: From Commune to Company Town, by Edward K. Spann,
    but many probably haven’t, so this time I’m sending part of the first chapter.  The book is out of print,
    but The Friends of Historic Hopedale still have a few copies available.  They can be purchased at the
    Bancroft Library.

                                                              The Road to Hopedale

    The Hopedale Community was the most enduring of several efforts in New England during the 1840s
    to establish the good society in a corrupted world.  It was an element in a great socioreligious ferment
    that inspired thousands of New Englanders to dream anew some version of the old Puritan dream of
    creating a truly godly community.  Although overshadowed by Brook Farm, Hopedale as a social
    experiment outlived its better publicized rival by a decade.  It, too, eventually failed, but only after the
    power of its governing faith had transformed a barren farm into a successful village – a village that
    eventually took the search for a good society into drastically different times.  That it succeeded as it did
    resulted not from fortuitous circumstances but from the characters and the visions of the people who
    created it.

    Why do such people – only the few – make the risky, difficult and ultimately frustrated effort to establish
    the City of God in this world?  Although the effort might be attributed to some irrational “fanaticism,” the
    founders of Hopedale were generally rational people committed to a social vision that, while
    unimaginable to most of their contemporaries, had evolved from their immediate culture and
    experience during a time of religious ferment.  This was especially the case with their longtime leader
    and spokesman, Adin Ballou, a man of modern reason as well as deep religious devotion.

    Near the end of his long, creative life, Ballou was discovered by Leo Tolstoy, the Russian novelist and
    mystic, who predicted that he would be “in the future acknowledged as one of the great benefactors of
    mankind.”  With this one exception, however, Ballou never achieved much public notice, in part
    because he spent virtually all his years in a corner of New England that was obscured by the blaze of
    Boston and Concord and of Lowell and New Bedford.  In terms of conventional success, Ballou
    judged himself a failure.  “My hopes were too urgent and sanguine,” he wrote in his Autobiography,
    “my standard and aim were set too high for immediate realization.  So have I been defeated in some of
    my noblest schemes.”  And yet he remained confident that he had, through reasonable deduction from
    concrete experience, found the God-given religious and social principles whose truth and beauty
    would ultimately convert the world.  Edward K. Spann, Hopedale: From Commune to Company Town,
    1 –2.

      Hopedale History Ezine Menu                           HOME