Hopedale's Missing Monument
By Jim Buckley
Now that he has retired as Hopedale's town counsel and town clerk, Attorney Robert Phillips plans to
spend more time trying to solve "The Mystery of the Missing Statue."
Everyone in the Milford area is aware of the statue of General William Franklin Draper astride a horse.
It dominates Draper Park on Route 16 in downtown Milford. But far fewer residents are aware of
another statue of General Draper which was dedicated in Hopedale in 1911 and placed on a plot of
land on Adin Street. This second statue disappeared around 1929.
Phillips has his work cut out for him. According to Ann Robinson, the new head librarian at the town's
Bancroft Library, there is no record of this statue. Many people remember it but there is nothing in print
about the statue in any of the library's reference material. Nor is there any material about it at the
Milford Town Library, except a photo of the statue in a scrapbook haphazardly assembled over 60
years ago by a member of the area's famous Bragg Family.
Until recently there wasn't even a clue as to where the statue might be. According to Olga Till,
longtime member of the Hopedale Historical Commission, someone had once said it was buried and
others claimed it had been dumped in some wooded area. But about two months ago, Miss Hester
Irving of Hopedale said that in 1930, she and her sister saw workmen dig a deep hole in back of the
Hopedale Junior-Senior High School and throw the statue into it. The hole was then covered and no
attempt was made to mark its location.
"I can't imagine why they would do such a thing," Phillips said. "But now that I have more time, I'm
going to do some research on the topic."
Milford Library Trustee Paul Curran, who is also a part-time historian, shares Phillips' puzzlement.
"That statue was dedicated in 1911 by the General's daughter, Margaret. It's really a mystery to me
why she would have allowed a statue of her famous father to be treated so shabbily by having it
buried. Granted she left Hopedale in 1916 to marry Italian Prince Boncompagni. But she got that
marriage annulled and returned to live in Hopedale. So why would she have let them bury the statue?"
Both Phillips and Curran promise to keep us informed when and if they discover new clues about the
statue's whereabouts. By Jim Buckley from a newspaper clipping dated 1989.
Click here for much more on the missing statue
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