Hopedale History
    April 1, 2012
    No. 201
    Factory Town

    Hopedale in March   

    Undefeated – Hopedale High basketball, 1956-57  

    I haven’t added much to the website in the past couple of weeks, other than the basketball story, but I
    did make some improvements to the Wildflowers in Hopedale section, including the menu and the fifty
    pages it links to. Looks much better. Well, I think it does, anyway. Here’s a link to the menu.

    Recent deaths   

    I receive the monthly newsletters of the Upton Historical Society and the quarterly newsletters of the
    Friends of Upton State Forest. If you’d like me to pass them on to you, let me know.

    Twenty-five years ago – April 1987 – Hopedale town meeting passes leash law and establishes
    school building committee. Selectmen discuss possibility of hiring full-time dog officer. Freedom
    Street bridge closed to traffic. Bridge is deteriorating and 12-inch water main in danger. Sirloin tips,
    $1.88 per pound at Big D. The Simpsons cartoon first appears as a series of shorts on The Tracey
    Ullman Show. Geraldo Rivera investigates the problems of growing up in the 1980s in his latest news
    special, “Innocence Lost: The Erosion of American Childhood.” Dow Jones up 69.89 points, ending at
    record 2,390.34

    Fifty years ago – April 1962 – Winburn Dennett retires after 44 years at Hopedale High School; 40 as
    principal. Community House Women’s Club hold s annual meeting at Larches. Mr. and Mrs. Joseph
    Gibbs held up in their home at 207 Dutcher Street. Academy Awards Best Picture – Lawrence of
    Arabia. Walter Cronkite, a former United Press reporter best known for hosting the CBS program You
    Are There, replaces Douglas Edwards as the anchorman for the CBS Evening News,.


    Here’s an article about Hopedale that was written in 1933.

                                                                            Factory Town

    Factory towns. The phrase conjures up long rows of identical homes, depressing in their monotony;
    shabby-faced tenements pushed too close to the streets to allow for adornment; angular cottages in
    straight rows on a checkerboard of streets. But the rule must go when the exception appears.
    Hopedale, Mass is such an exception, an oasis of comfortable cheer in a desert of shabby mill towns.

    The stranger may drive down the tree-shaded street into Hopedale, traverse its length, without ever
    suspecting that he has just passed through a company town. He will sense, without fail, that there is
    something different about the place. For a town of its size, the churches and schools might seem
    extravagantly large and well-kept. He would notice the abundance of parks, the spaciousness of
    playgrounds and the lawns in front of the public buildings.

    The bathhouse on the edge of the large pond might seem a little extravagant for a town of Hopedale’s
    size. He might wonder at the uniform brightness of the well-kept houses, with nowhere a shabby or
    neglected dwelling. But he would never guess that he had just passed through a company town.

    Hopedale is the different company town. It is different because its roots are thrust deep into years of
    honest experiment and progress. Today it is the home of the Draper Corporation, where is
    manufactured a large share of the looms that whirl in the mills of America. Over a century ago the
    sheltered valley that now enfolds the town was the scene of a social experiment. It was headed by a
    little group of men and women who tried to found a community on Christian socialism. Ebenezer
    Draper joined them. He brought with him a tiny business. His father had invented a loom temple, a
    device that made it possible for a weaver in Lowell to run two looms instead of one, that lifted from his
    shoulders some of the burden of grinding labor that was his lot. (Or at least that’s what the Draper
    official being interviewed evidently told the reporter. Easing the burden of the poor worker was also
    mentioned frequently in Draper literature after the development of the Northrop loom. Almost certainly
    what actually happened was that the mills using Draper machinery were able to get rid of many of their
    employees and the remaining ones had to work at least as hard as ever. This line of thinking can still
    be found. Here’s a sentence from a Wikipedia article on the Northrop loom. “The Northrop Loom
    relieved the weaver of much of the drudgery of her work and enabled her to run sixteen looms at
    once.” Ummm, yeah, if jumping from one loom to another makes for a more pleasant workday.) That
    business Mr. Draper gave to the community. (Well, not entirely. Ebenezer retained control of sales of
    the temples and invested much of the profit in Community stock. So did his brother, George, when he
    later joined the Community. Eventually the two owned most of the stock and in 1856 when things
    weren't going well, it was possible for them to bring about the end of the Community, pay its debts and
    take over the assets.)

    The community, like so many others of its kind, failed. Human frailties had proved unequal to the road
    these pioneers had mapped out. The Draper business had grown. In the meantime Ebenezer Draper
    had been joined by his brother, George. They took over the industry from the community, paying off all

    The industry grew. The whirl of spindles, the growth of the textile industry in America was reflected in
    the peaceful valley where factories and shops began to spread out under the shadow of the enfolding
    hills. But the idea of a community wherein social experiments might be carried out still dominated.
    Slowly the industry began to absorb the town. The community that failed to run the industry began to
    come under the guidance of the industry.

    A row of seven houses, now known as “the Seven Sisters,” stands back on a back street of the town, a
    reminder of the beginning of the company house plan. They stand out from their neighbors now.
    The Hopedale of today is not laid out in any strict geometrical pattern. The streets of the town are wide,
    and shaped to fit the contours of the hillsides into which it nestles. Across the pond from the
    bathhouse the streets are crescent shaped, curving to the outlines of the shining pond. Though most
    of the houses are brown-shingled they are not alike. There is individuality in their shape and location
    even as there is individuality in the window boxes that gleam under the trees, in the tiny lawns and the
    flower beds. They are homes rather than mere habitations. The Christian Science Monitor,
    September 26, 1933.

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