Hopedale History
    January 15, 2006
    No. 52
    The Town Hall

    Our thanks to the Wayland Historical Society for sending us a picture of General Draper and another of
    his father, George. Thanks also to Giancarlo BonTempo for a donation of Hopedale pictures and for
    information on Rev. Lewis Wilson (Unitarian Church, 1895 – 1915), and Draper genealogical
    information. Giancarlo also came across a website called Ray’s Place that some of you may find
    interesting. It has lots of local history for New England and New York and also some helpful
    genealogy links. I even found my grandparents 1897 wedding listed while looking through it. It’s at
    http://www.rays-place.com/   

    Recent additions to the Hopedale history website include a page on Drs. Butler and Phyla Wilmarth
    and the Water Cure House on Hopedale Street. Click here for more on the Wilmarths and the water
    cure.

    Among the worst evils of our day, we must rank the widely prevalent use of Tobacco. It is the
    cherished idol of a large portion of the people. Before its polluted shrine multitudes every rank delight
    to pay homage, from those who claim to be the authorized messengers of truth to their fellow man, to
    the felons who suffer the penalty of violated human law; from the man of gray hairs to the child of
    tender age, and from those who dwell in the abodes of  luxury to the beggars in our streets. The
    Practical Christian, Hopedale Community, Milford, Mass., Saturday, July 30, 1853.

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    Evidently construction of the town hall started within a short time after Hopedale became a town in
    1886, since it was dedicated in 1887. Here’s Gordon Hopper’s story of George Draper’s gift to the town.

                                    Hopedale Town Hall Built In 1887

                                                  By Gordon E. Hopper

    HOPEDALE – Hopedale’s Town Hall was formally dedicated on Oct. 25, 1887 and at the request of
    George Draper, Sr., the building was presented to the town by his children as a memorial to him.

    The building was built from blocks of Milford granite with Longmeadow brownstone trimmings and is
    built in the Romanesque style of architecture. Its outside dimension measures 69 by 75 feet. At the
    time of its dedication it included a basement, it is two stories high and it has a large hall under the
    roof. In the basement there are two rooms, storerooms, heating equipment and closets.

    On the street level there is room for two stores and the main entrance to the Town Hall. Above this is
    an audience hall with a seating capacity of 350 people and a stage that measures 24 by 52 feet.
    Above this is a large hall that covers the full extent of the building.

    Construction plans were drawn by Fred Swasey, an architect, and the building was erected by Mead,
    Mason & Co. of Boston at an expense of about $40,000

    Exercises on the dedication day started with an outdoor concert by the Milford Brass Band. This ran
    from 10 to 11 o’clock and at that time, Gen. William F. Draper called the gathering to order and Rev.
    Adin Ballou invoked the divine blessing.

    The Weber quartet of Boston sang “Nearer My God to Thee,” after which Gen. Draper made the
    opening remarks.

    Gen. Draper said that he regretted the fact that his father did not live to preside over the occasion. He
    said that his father had planned, built and paid for the new building and that the occasion seemed
    incomplete without him. “His memory, however, is with us and will last while this granite structure
    endures to serve as his monument,” the general said.

    “I am also saddened by the fact that within two or three days I have followed to yonder cemetery the
    body of my uncle, E.D. Draper, who with our revered pastor, Mr. Ballou, founded the Hopedale
    Community and gave the village its name more than 40 years ago, and who was my father’s partner in
    business from the time he came to Hopedale till 1868.

    “Your local prosperity today depends very largely upon the prosperity of the business of the firm of
    which I am left as the senior partner. I fully realize that at the present time any loss of business, any
    lessening of production, will be disadvantageous to my neighbors and to our town as a whole.

    “Feeling this, I desire to pledge myself to do my best to maintain and increase these industries so
    long as I have the support and cooperation of my neighbors and employees.”

    The general then spoke about the bright prospects for the future. He spoke of the good streets in
    Hopedale, good roads, the best of schools, concrete sidewalks, public water, gas and electric street
    lights. A new horse railroad to connect with Milford was expected, he said.

    He said that the residents had received this building for public purposes. “Since our town was
    organized, one new manufacture has been established here. This is contributing largely to our
    prosperity. Others have a settlement her in contemplation. We are very glad to see here so many of
    our friends from outside including many of those who assisted in the establishment of our town
    corporation.

    Gen. Draper then introduced former Gov. John D. Long who spoke substantially. Long made
    reference to Rev. Adin Ballou and the failure of an industrious and peaceful Christian brotherhood in
    Hopedale. The near bankruptcy was averted to become a line of practical business when George
    Draper took over operations of the plant.

    Long also said that the building stands for the New England town meeting and that the hall
    commemorates a noble New England life. “George Draper deserves this strong and simple
    memorial, he was a strong, simple, massive character. There was granite in his foundations and on it
    he erected a substantial and useful life. He had the vigor of mind and purpose which commanded
    confidence and respect,” Long said.

    Long gave a brief outline of George Draper’s life, his struggles and successes and he paid a glowing
    tribute to his energy and uprightness of character. He then dedicated the new building to the memory
    of George Draper and to the use of the people.

    Following the address by Long and music by the band, Rev. Ballou gave “some interesting
    statements of the hard labors and trials of the founders of the original community and their personal
    sacrifices, claiming for them their share of honor.”

    After the quartet sang “The Old Oaken Bucket,” Rev. L.G. Wilson briefly alluded to the benefit that
    Hopedale had derived from the moral influence of George Draper.

    George A. Draper, son of the late George Draper, then presented the keys of the building to J.B.
    Bancroft, a selectman who accepted the gift in the name of the town.

    After the exercises had been concluded, an excellent dinner was served by caterer Mathewson in a
    tent set up on the nearby church lawn to some 450 people. Milford Daily News, June 8, 1996

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