exclusive mail order manufacturing company has been operating in Hopedale nearly
unnoticed the past 14 months. The company's patrons are artistically minded people
from all over the world. They order many hand made personal and decorative
accessories from the company whose costly advertising appears in several national
This young but already nationally known business is situated on the 15-acre former
Osgood property off Greene Street, about a half mile from the roadway. The office and
several art rooms are located in the nearly 50 year-old mansion that is presently having
its face done over. The hand-blocking, printing, and sewing rooms are located in a
building not far from the home. Part of this building was a former chicken coop, and
eventually it will become the site for all phases of the work.
How such a business came to Hopedale is a short story. Harry Lacey, an artist,
decorator and designer for about 20 years, and his artist-designer wife, Elizabeth,
became fed up with the rush of city living and tending to the many tasks involved in
operating a retail shop in Boston's Back Bay. After a search of nearly a year for a
country home and land which would enable them to further develop the mail order line of
their business, the Laceys were introduced to their dream spot in Hopedale on the
afternoon of April 1, 1946, and bought it 10 minutes later from Louis McVitty.
They have no regrets in choosing their new home and business site. Four months after
the purchase the new firm began operating under the name of Harel House, a name
derived from Harry and Elizabeth. About the same time they became the parents of a
daughter, who was named...you guessed it; Harel. Names in the Lacey family seem as
artistic as the items manufactured. Even their German shepherd dog has an impressive
title, Erika von Grafmar.
Mr. Lacey, a slight man with nervous energy, revealed that most of his firm's business
is done with people in southern and western states. Orders come in daily from nearly
every state in the union, and shipments are made to Alaska, Africa, Hawaii and South
America. The two latter mentioned countries [Yes, that's what it says.] are becoming a
great selling ground for the Hopedale firm.
Among the items that are manufactured there are unique lamps, wastebaskets,
cigarette boxes, angora lambskin rugs, copper and brass items, cocktail napkins, card
table covers, hand printed wallpaper, picnic mats and cloths, "glamorous" clothes
hangers, personal cases for shirts, neckties, handkerchiefs, shoes and bottles and
many other unique hand made items that are not to be found in retail shops. The
success of the business depends entirely on the approval of goods by an exclusive
clientele. An exquisitely painted wastebasket sells for $15, a monogrammed pure wool
shirt container is listed for $12. 50, and card table covers are priced as high as $40
During the past summer season, decorative sea-shells were turned out as a sideline at
the plant and a small box of them sold for $5. Decorated matchbooks with seasonal
designs were on sale for $1 per box containing nine books.
Among the notables who have ordered goods from the Hopedale firm is a Minister of
the Exterior of a South American country who presented monogrammed cigarette boxes
for all his embassy friends. They were mailed out all over the world from the Hopedale
The firm is definitely a mail order business. No one is permitted to see goods at the
plant. Catalogs of all merchandise are sent out to those requesting them by mail. Mr.
Lacey states that the entire purpose in settling in a small town like Hopedale was to
avoid the rush and bother of having to operate a retail shop.
Since the business began functioning in Hopedale, a few curious people have
wandered on the grounds. At times this has seriously interrupted work. Many could not
be convinced readily that there were no goods for display and that retail trade could not
The advertising matter in pamphlets, catalogs and notices that appear in magazines
such as Parents, Vogue and Vanity Fair, House and Garden, House Beautiful and
others, carry a sketch of the old Osgood mansion. This detailed piece of work was done
by Elizabeth Lacey. Most of the trade products appear in ads under the name of
Elizabeth Lacey, Hopedale, Mass., but some of the decorative work is publicized under
the name Harel House, alone.
Kearsley's studio handles all the photographic work for the business, and Forbes
Press, also of Hopedale, does much of the printing work.
In a business of this type, the planning and the result of advertising in every section of
the country is very important. A chart is kept of orders from the entire world. Ads placed
in magazines carry a key number so that the firm can determine how effective its
advertising has been in any particular publication.
In addition to being an artist and renowned decorator, Mr. Lacey is also a shrewd
businessman. He handles all the work involved in long range, high priced national
advertising, and checks their worth in the 48 states and other countries. After a period
of "hit and miss" he has found out that only the higher grade of household magazines
aid his business. Spending thousands of dollars annually, for a comparatively small
business such as Harel House requires expert planning and supervision.
All workers at the plant are from Hopedale, Milford, Millis and other surrounding towns.
Mr. Lacey expects to have a payroll of about 50 employees when his plant enters full-
scale operations. He is still searching for skilled help for fine embroidery, art and other
work of this nature. Harold Moran of the Milford High School faculty has assisted Mr.
Lacey in procuring students to aid in packaging catalogs for mailing and doing other
work in the plant.
One special operation is the hand printing of various designs on linens and other
fabrics. This process involves the use of a silk screen into which a design has been cut.
When the proper inks are pressed over the pattern, it is transferred to the linen in fine
detail. Some designs have several colors and many operations are required to complete
a single item. Wallpaper is printed in this manner. The cutting of some silk screen
designs require 250 hours of painstaking work.
With the fall and winter seasons getting into full swing, Mr. Lacey fears that the
Hopedale post office will be burdened even more with additional outgoing packages and
incoming letter orders. In one busy day as many as 200 letters are received and 100
packages are sent out. An order for 25,000 envelopes has already been placed to
handle the mailings of catalogs this fall.
The expression, "It's the box that sells the goods," is very nearly true at Harel House.
Beautiful bright green boxes will be in evidence next spring to take the place of this fall's
red and white ones. The ribbon shades also change with the seasons. Only one item
remains the same. All items have a red and silver tag attached identifying them as
"Harel House" creations.
Many items produced at the Hopedale plant have been featured editorially in
household magazines in which it advertises. Stories of the artistry and fineness of the
items manufactured by the firm have been written by several magazine writers.
Harry Lacey, although enmeshed in the labor of his new undertaking, is still a
decorator. He is affiliated with several large chain organizations as a consultant
designer. At present his is working on the Berkeley Store in Milford, under a working
plan signed several years ago with the chain firm. His is not taking on additional work of
this type, but merely carrying out work for which he was hired years ago.
Thus in 14 months the red-headed man, who has a liking for checkered bow ties and
long type cigarettes, which he smokes in chain fashion, has laid a firm foundation for a
national business in Hopedale that promises to make the little town well known to an
exclusive class of people throughout the nation and in several foreign countries.
This man Harry Lacey and his wife Elizabeth tossed aside a profitable but nerve-
shattering business in Boston's Back Bay just for peace and quiet in a country
surrounding. From all indications they have received more than their anticipated reward.
Their combined ingenuity, decorative ability and business logic, has put the Hopedale
firm will on the road to permanent success. Milford Daily News, October 18, 1947.
The Harel House, called Lawlah originally, was the home of Dana and Laird Osgood.
Dana was the son of Edward and Hannah Thwing Draper Osgood and the grandson of
George and Hannah Thwing Draper. Osgood's land extended down to the present
location of Dana Park, which was named for him.
other end at Greene Street near the Spindleville Pond was named McVitty Road. Louis
McVitty was the man who developed the area. In its account of the March 1956
Hopedale town meeting, the Milford News reported that , "The name of McVitty Road
was changed to Dana Park by the voters, with no discussion." The southern end,
however, kept the name, McVitty Road.
Dana and Laird Osgood are listed in the town street listing books up through 1931. The
Bancroft Library doesn't have the books for 1931 or 1932. They aren't in the books for
1933 or after. Austin and George Osgood appear in the books at that time. Austin was
22, listed as a student. George, how had previously been living at the Larches, was 46
and listed as "at home." By 1945, just George was there. He was in the books up
through 1952. After that, I've been unable to find him. I looked in the town reports for
deaths for 1952 and several years after, but he's not there.
The Dana Osgood family Business Menu HOME
Christmas catalog cover.
|The Harel House
By Nick J. Tosches
Daily News Staff
Thanks to Giancarlo BonTempo for the article above.
The article above is from Perry MacNevin's collection of Hopedale items.
The former Osgood house/Harel House c. 2000. The original
address was Greene Street, but now is Jackson Way.