Hopedale's Glorified Mill Pond
Another Prize Article in the Best Thing in Your Town Contest
who publish. After living in the village for four years I found that it was know by Germans, Italians,
Englishmen and Frenchmen for its model homes, its paternal government, its famous strike against some
of the conditions appertaining to paternalism. But there is one thing which, strangely, has never been
cataloged abroad--this is its glorified mill-pond.
A mill-pond is an ugly spot, God wot. Never was an uglier pond than the bare, bulrush-shored, mucky
stretch of bog and water which nestled, up to 1898, right in the heart of this community. From this dingy
morass clouds of mosquitoes arose each night to swoop down upon the unhappy inhabitants.
But in one famous day and year at the annual town meeting a few progressive souls advocated, as they
had for a decade, "the purchase of about five acres for a town park" and succeeded. The town annually
appropriates $2500 for the care of the Park, and the sale of trees brings in five hundred or so more. There
has always been at the head of the work a scientifically-trained forester. The present man has held his
place for thirteen years and is an artist in his line. His one ambition has been to keep the park with so
carefully careless a grace that the casual visitor shall declare "nature did it all." Nature did--mighty little.
The first care of the committee was to attend to the immediate needs of the community; so an extra
appropriation of twenty-five hundred was voted. The worst part of the swamp-land, immediately under the
noses of the villagers, was drained with catch-basins, a hedge of shrubbery was set about, and a field for
football and baseball was built. An annual field day for athletic and aquatic sports has increased the
interest of all in this portion of the park. Gradually to this end, into which a bit of orderly, artificial decoration
was allowed to creep, was fitted up for the recreation of the toilers. There is a bath-house, a shore of
imported sea sand, and wharfs for boats and canoes. Unfortunately a group of small boathouses have
grown up, sheds of the shed-iest type; but their days are numbered.
Then slowly with the years began the work of transforming a hideous muck-hole to a lovely plaisance. The
lakelet was drained, dead trees removed, boulders blasted; but the artistic sense sufficed and an ancient
stone fence, cutting under the waters, has been left. In a drought it makes an exciting bit to negotiate in a
boat, yet is so lovely, so odd, that nobody complains. Huge lilies, a pink-stained variety and native to the
pond, were encouraged; the lotus has begun to bloom in sheltered nooks. The townsfolk gather these
blossoms by huge armfuls every morning, every social occasion overflows with them, and the two pulpits
droop under their burden every Sabbath; but the supply never fails.
The appreciation of the people of their own work is immense. They own boats and canoes almost to a
man-and a woman, and vote enthusiastically for the efforts at mosquito extermination, while the attempt to
induce the wild natives of the woods to seek refuge here is encouraged by everybody. The result is that
squirrel, pheasants, quail, rabbits, as well as all the common, and uncommon, birds have learned that in
this park is safety from the volley of the gun.
From the nearer end of the water pleasant glimpses show the huge factory looming up like some
medieval factory and houses "beside the pond" are in wide demand. Only the very fortunate obtain one right
on the shore and, having obtained one, never let it go. The whole morale of the village is raised and
transfigured by Hopedale's glorified mill-pond. James Church Alvord, The Independent, Hopedale's
Glorified Mill Pond, Littleton, Massachusetts, April 3, 1916
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