April 1, 2006
The Bancroft Memorial Library
Biographies of Ebenezer Draper, George Draper, George Albert Draper, and that controversial man
with three last names, Wickliffe Preston Draper, have been added to the Hopedale history website
recently. Also, pictures have been added to the story of the Lilliputian weddings.
The Friends of Historic Hopedale could use a few new members. Email me for more info.
Below is a history of the Bancroft Memorial Library, written by Fred Oldfield. Actually, this is a
shortened version for those of you busy doing your taxes or taking advantage of the weather to do
some yard work. If you want the full version, plus a couple of other articles on the subject, click here.
The Bancroft Memorial Library
By Frederick Oldfield
In the center of the small community of Hopedale sets the Bancroft Memorial Library, an example of
old English style architecture. It was through the diligence of the townspeople that this building was
erected. At the first town meeting held in Hopedale, the townspeople voted to build their own public
library for use by all the residents.
The first public library, called the Hopedale Community Library, was started in 1842 with 50 volumes,
In charge of the library was the Department of Education, Arts and Sciences. The library’s
establishment in 1842 ranks it among the first in point of time, and entitles its founders and
supporters to a high degree of commendation.
In 1850, the library contained 423 volumes and each year it was increased by donations of books and
At the first opportunity, after the incorporation of Hopedale as a town, its citizens expressed a desire
and intention to have a Public Library. At the first town meeting they nominated town officers, and the
Trustees of the Public Library were included in these nominations.
After being occupied at the Town Hall for some thirteen years, the library was moved to the new and
present home, The Bancroft Memorial Library. The building was a gift given by Mr. Joseph B. Bancroft
in memory of his wife, Mrs. Sylvia W. Thwing Bancroft. On December 14, at 2 o’clock, a dedication was
held to which the public was invited to attend and the new library was officially opened.
The library is a replica of Merton College Chapel at Oxford. The design of the building is that of old
It is interesting to note that the granite used in the construction of the building came from the Norcross
Brothers quarry in Milford, Massachusetts.
The first librarian of the building was Miss Anna M. Bancroft, daughter of the donor.
While the Drapers were in Rome, Mrs. Draper, who was acquainted with the eminent sculptor Waldo
Storey, took his advice and had him design a fountain surmounted by a statue of Hope
On November 12, 1904, General William Draper and his daughter Margaret presented the fountain as
a gift from Mrs. Susan Preston Draper to the Chairman of Selectmen, Mr. Edwin H. Darling, on behalf
of the town of Hopedale.
At one time there were two glass tumblers placed on either side of the fountain which were used for
drinking. Dogs would drink out of the lower bowl. When Massachusetts passed a law forbidding
public drinking cups, the tumblers were removed. Paper cups were substituted, but this idea
eventually failed and was abandoned. The figure of Hope, with her head slightly inclined, seems to be
making sure that the cornucopias a full and spilling over with plenty for the town of Hopedale. Also
making up this fountain are festoons of wheat, fruit and acorns. The dolphin, Medusa, and especially
the magnificent eagles, make up the rest of this marvelous work.
In 1927 there was a physical change in the building. A room in the basement section was made into a
children’s room. This room was made possible by a gift from Miss Anna M. Bancroft.
Today, just as they were many years ago, the trustees are elected by the people. They have a
responsibility to the townspeople to make sure that the library is run properly and that it fits the needs
of the people of the community. If not for the diligence and concern of the early settlers of the
community, Hopedale would not have such an excellent library as The Bancroft Memorial Library.
Marjorie E. Hattersley served as children’s librarian from September 1953 until her retirement in
March 1994. The children’s room was renamed the Marjorie E. Hattersley Room on March 27, 1994.
Marge’s grandson, Fred Oldfield, wrote the article above in 1979. Fred is now chairman of the trustees
of the Bancroft Library.
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