September 15, 2018
The Water Cure House
Hopedale in September
Recent additions to pages on hope1842.com: Clare Draper (An obituary for Clare Draper III who died on
August 28.) Deaths
The change from the slant to the vertical style of penmanship has reduced the perplexities of the teacher,
and given the child a more natural method. There are no poor writers in the vertical script. The upright, front
position required is conducive to health and symmetrical growth. Elmer E. Sherman, Superintendent of
Hopedale Schools, Town Report, 1895.
Our branch at South Hopedale has maintained a creditable circulation this year in spite of the fact that the
severe storms shut it off from trolley connection with the main library, and therefore all exchange of books,
from Feb. 6 until April 2. This leap year has furnished 53 Fridays, on each one of which the (branch) library
has been open with a total circulation of 2,969 volumes. The Branch is a success, even under heavy
hardship, because of Mrs. Smith's will and ability to serve. Harriet B. Sornborger, Librarian, 1920. History
of the South Hopedale Branch Library
The Water Cure House
By Peter Hackett
Of more than passing interest is the current news report that Hopedale's old Water Cure House so called,
has been razed at Hopedale and Union streets.
The house has been referred to as having been a Draper tenement for many years. True, but much more
important, historically, is the fact that long before it came into the hands of the Draper interests it belonged
to the old Hopedale Community. Built in 1843 - 125 years ago - "as a large double tenement," it was
among the first half-dozen houses built by the Community.
Skipping over the years, to 1850, we begin to find the first reference to Hydrotherapy - a system of treating
diseases with pure water and a greatly diminished resort to drugs and medicines.
Knowledge of the system was voiced to the Community members by Dr. Butler Wilmarth, himself a
member of the Community.
Of him, Rev. Adin Ballou, historian, said he was highly regarded as "a genial, conscientious, cautious and
open-minded physician." It might be said that the water-cure idea was not Dr. Wilmarth's alone. It was at
the time being seriously considered by the medical profession in general.
He conceived the idea of establishing a Water Cure Infirmary and made his plans known to the
Community. At a meeting held April 1850, the Community voted its approval, and further voted "to
appropriate $600 to establish a Water Cure Infirmary, provided new joint stock can be obtained."
The funds were forthcoming, and the large double house built in 1842 by Amos J. Cook and Edmund Price
was remodeled and fitted for water cure uses.
It would be interesting to know if there was any relationship between the Amos J. Cook who built the house
and M. Cook of the Cook Wrecking Co. that leveled the house.
When the Water Cure Infirmary was ready for public service it announced the fact in the following
"This Establishment is situated in the pleasant and peaceful village of Hopedale (Milford), Mass., and is
under the care of Dr. Butler Wilmarth, who, with his wife, will devote their constant attention and services to
restore health all who place themselves under their care as patients.
"Terms, $4 to $5 per week (payment weekly) exclusive of washing. Extra privileges or attention will subject
the patient to extra charges. Patients will furnish the usual articles for treatment. B. Wilmarth, M.D.
Hopedale (Milford), Sept. 28, 1850"
The new infirmary failed in a matter of months from lack of sufficient patronage. It was decided to close it
and restore the building to its original use as a tenement house.
The decision was made with the approval of Dr. Wilmarth, who meanwhile had received a flattering offer to
take charge of a similar infirmary at New Grafenburg, N.Y., which had already established a good
reputation and standing. To that place, in the spring of 1851, the doctor and his family removed, "much," as
Ballou said, "to the regret of all of us, by whom he was held in sincere esteem as a truly Christian man, and
a physician of high degree."
On May 6th, 1853, Dr. Wilmarth was killed in a catastrophic train wreck at Norwalk Bridge, Conn. while
enroute to a convention of water cure physicians. His body was first brought to Westboro, where for a
season he was residing while establishing a water cure establishment.
The body was then brought to Hopedale for burial. The funeral was attended by a large "concourse" of
people and Adin Ballou was the officiating clergyman.
Our article would hardly be complete without mentioning that the doctor's son, Jerome Wilmarth, M.D., was
one of Upton's most highly regarded physicians, where he practiced his profession for twenty years. He
died in 1890 at the age of 59, and was buried in the family lot in Hopedale.
As a footnote, with respect to water cures, Mendon did a brisk business for years selling its famous Miscoe
Spring water in Milford and neighboring towns.
In a 1902-3 Business Directory is the following: "Mendon has been superb in its proclivities of its
ancestors but out-rivals all others in the essential features of good health and old age in its pure water
from the Miscoe Spring, located far away from all sources of contamination, on the slope of Miscoe Hill at
an elevation of nearly 600 feet.
"The water comes to the surface from a broken granite ledge, in a perpetual flow through clean white sand.
Its analysis shows the water to be of the purest and softest known
"Samples submitted to the best consulting chemists place it ahead of Poland Springs, or any other springs
so extensively advertised for their life prolonging and invigorating properties."
In the description of Hopkinton, as found in Barber's Historical Collections," (pub. 1839), we find this
interesting statement. "The Mineral Spring in this town near White Hall Pond is much visited. It contains
carbonic acid, carbonate of lime, and iron. There is a large and commodious hotel in this place, and it is a
fashionable place of resort."
Such simple pleasures - fashionable places of resort based on fresh air and pure spring water contributed
much, no doubt, to the expression, Age of Innocence. Milford Daily News, January 4, 1969
More about the Wilmarths and the Water Cure House
For another Hopedale home with an interesting story, see The Pest House
Get thee to the waters
Ezine Menu HOME
The Water Cure House is in the center of this picture. Just showing at the bottom edge
is a bit of the roof of the first Draper main office. In 1910 it was replaced with a larger
office on the other side of Hopedale Street, which is now Atria-Draper Place. The
houses in front of the office were moved when the shop was extended into that area.
Milford News photo of the Water Cure
House on Hopedale Street in 1967
The Norwalk Bridge accident, where Dr. Wilmarth was killed.
The Bancroft Library in Hopedale has many issues of The Water-Cure Journall,
and also has a biography of Dr. Wilmarth. You can also read the Journal online.
The house now on the location where
the Water Cure House once stood.
The Wilmarth family stone at Hopedale Village Cemetery.