Hopedale History
    October 1, 2005
    No. 46
    Spindleville

    Proposals have been received from three architectural firms for the renovation job at the Little Red
    Shop. One will be chosen very soon. When the architect’s work is done, the Historical Commission will
    be able to take the next step; getting a contractor to do the work.

    Part of Chapter 2 from General Draper’s autobiography, in which he discusses the Hopedale
    Community and a few of his experiences there as a boy, have been added to the website. Click here to
    go to it.
       
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                                             Its days of glory lie in past

                               Spindleville's legacy lives on in Hopedale

                                                      By Irene Coletsos

    HOPEDALE - Spindleville doesn't appear in the town's official history. And to many residents, it's just
    the name of a pond and the section of town where you find the Hopedale Country Club golf course.

    Passersby on the way to their golf games notice the small low-profile electronic hardware and
    precision part factory, called M.C. Machine Co., Inc., without knowing that the building has a
    manufacturing history that predates the birth of their great-grandparents.

    But many longtime residents remember what it meant to live in Spindleville, and remember the mill, A.
    A. Westcott and Sons, that gave Spindleville its name.

    One of those people is Frances Rae of 120 Mill Street.

    "Spindleville was sort of considered the other side of the tracks," said Rae, 74. "The families who
    worked at the mill lived here."

    The home of Asa Augustus Westcott, Rae's grandfather, still stands. It's a well-preserved, solidly built,
    wood frame house. Although her grandfather ran the mill that supplied the spindles used in Draper
    Company looms, his home does not compare with the almost monstrous brick estates on Dutcher
    and Adin streets that housed the top Draper executives.

    Asa Augustus Westcott came to Hopedale from Scituate, R.I., in 1826. Besides becoming a deacon at
    the Congregational Church in Milford, he bought land in the southwestern part of Hopedale and the
    mill, which had been used to make cider and grind grain.

    On the hill that is now covered with the 224 home Laurelwood development, he started a farm with
    chickens, corn, melons and livestock.

    He converted the mill, which still hovers over the Mill River, to a steel spindle-making operation. The
    spindles would be forged in the basement, shaped, hammered, straightened and smoothed - all by
    hand.

    "I would go into the straightening shops," Rae said. "I wouldn't stay much. It was so noisy! You can
    imagine - particularly the big hammers on the steel."

    A large wooden paddlewheel in the Mill River generated the electricity that ran the factory. [Reggie
    Sweet, who worked at the mill for decades, recalled that in his early days there (the 1930s, I think), the
    waterwheel was being used to operate the triphammers that were used in shaping and straightening
    the spindles.]

    Today, all you hear in the M.C. Machine Co. is the shearing down of finely fitted machine parts and
    screws. The company gets its juice from power lines. And the riverbanks serve as a nice spot for
    company employees to sit down and eat their lunch.

    That new business moved in soon after the need for steel spindles died in the mid-1950s

    Laurelwood resident Joanne Dutra, who works in Boston, considers herself a Hopedale - not a
    Spindleville - resident.

    "Spindleville is just the name of a pond," she said.

    But in a subtle way, the legacy of the Westcott family, and the mill, have remained part of Hopedale.
    Rae's father, also named Asa Augustus, served as a Hopedale selectman for 33 years, until retiring in
    1953.

    Rae herself has three children, six grandchildren, and taught generations of Hopedale's
    kindergarteners and first-graders.

    Michael and Paul Cogliandro, M.C. Machine Co.'s president and vice president, were not familiar with
    the history of Spindleville but they still treasure the old yellowed photo of the spindle makers standing
    in the snow, in front of the former spindle making shop. [See Images of America: Hopedale, p. 110.]

    "The factory helped a lot of people and helped the community," Selectman Jaime Wagman said. The
    Middlesex News, August 21, 1989.

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