Hopedale History
    August 15, 2017
    No. 330
    Walker and the Bancroft Library

    Hopedale in August   

    During the past two weeks, additions have been made to the following pages on hope1842.com: The
    Draper Apprentice School (Cotton Chats for July 1942.)     South Hopedale Branch Library (Newspaper
    articles from the time of its closing in 1977.)     The Pest House (Current photo of the house added to the
    page, plus reports for 1902 from the Board of Health and the Overseers of the Poor)     Deaths   


    Owing to the large increase in the number of scholars in the lower grades, the High School was obliged to
    seek other quarters in September. Rooms were secured in the Town House which, although rather small,
    will answer as a temporary expedient. At the town meeting in March1888, Gen Wm F. Draper, on behalf of
    the Hopedale Machine  Company, George Draper & Sons, and the Dutcher Temple Company, offered to
    give the town a new building for the High School to cost six thousand dollars, the town to furnish the lot. A
    committee was appointed to select a location; this committee reported unanimously in favor of a lot
    containing about three acres, a short distance south of the junction of Main and Hopedale streets. For the
    School Committee, Frank J. Dutcher, secretary. 1889.


                           C. Howard Walker and the Bancroft Memorial Library

    By the time C. Howard Walker was hired to design a library in the town of Hopedale, Massachusetts in 1898,
    he and his fellow Boston architects generally preferred Gothic to Romanesque. Once again, the client
    probably was responsible for the decision to erect a Romanesque building. In this case, Walker was
    commissioned by a leading Hopedale citizen, Joseph Bancroft, who built the library at his own expense and
    then transferred it to the town in 1899. Just a block away on the same street stands a Richardsonian
    Romanesque town hall, dating from 1886 to 1887. Bancroft may have asked Walker to design a
    Romanesque library to harmonize with the municipal building. Both structures were built with the light-pink
    granite that had been quarried in the neighboring town of Milford, reinforcing the visual connection between
    them. But the town hall was trimmed with brown Longmeadow sandstone, which Walker would have
    considered terribly passé.

    In terms of style, the Bancroft Memorial Library alludes to English Norman sources. Under a broad gable
    that establishes the entrance, wall buttresses flank thee large round arches defined by a few spare
    moldings. In Theory of Mouldings from 1926, Walker would write, "There is not more common fault in
    designing moldings than that of making the excessive in quantity and scale." Restraint, he admonished, is a
    virtue. Capping the piers that support the three arches are simple leaves, while to one side, columns with
    related foliate capitals divide a grouping of windows. The carving is minimal, yet it contributes to the
    craftsmanship that enhances the entrance. Ironwork adds another note of interest. Strap hinges decorate
    the double doors, an iron grill fills the light over the transom, and iron lanterns project from the piers that
    frame the doors. The windows are clear leaded glass.

    Passing through the entrance, the first-time visitor is surprised by a stunning hammer-beam roof. Pendants
    drop from the hammer-beams, while the upper braces meet to produce a rhythm of round arches overhead.

    The way in which Walker let the structural components give expression to his interior was consistent with
    the emphasis on structure promoted by his fellow architects in the Society of Arts and Crafts, and followed
    the precepts of John Ruskin and Augustus Pugin. Arts & Crafts Architecture, History and Heritage in New
    England, Maureen Meister, pp. 118-120.

              Now and Then - The Bancroft Memorial Library             A History of the Bancroft Library   

360 view of library interior                   The Statue of Hope                    Ezine Menu                   HOME   

An early photo of the Bancroft Memorial Library.