October 1, 2005
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.
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
"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
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
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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