February 15, 2007
The Community House
Last week I attended the heritage landscapes meeting in Mendon. There were more than twenty
people there and a large number of properties and areas were discussed and suggested for inclusion
in the program. Properties selected will be studied by the Department of Conservation and Recreation,
which will then offer suggestions for their preservation. We’ll be having a similar meeting in Hopedale
on Wednesday, February 21 at 7 PM at Draper Place. The public is invited.
Congratulations to the Hopedale High girls’ basketball team whose February 6 win over Whitinsville
Christian gave them the Dual Valley Conference title, and to Lekia Cowen, who became Hopedale
High’s all-time basketball high scorer when she reached the 1,429 mark during the first half of the
game. Lekia, a junior, finished the game with 34 points. The previous record holder was Justin Lewis.
If you’d like to see a large, detailed map of what the Parklands looked like in 1913, just click here.
Meet Shakespeare at the Bancroft Library, Wednesday, February 28 at 7 PM. Due to the unfortunate
death of Mr. Shakespeare, his part will be played by Richard Clark.
Back in the fifties, it seemed that every kid in town was at the Community House on Friday nights and
Saturday afternoons. When we weren’t inside, we were out on the lawn or running over to the soda
fountain at the drug store. On Saturday afternoons a high school bowling league met at the alley
downstairs, and movies were shown on the first floor. It the days before pin setting machines, the
bowling alley was a place where kids could earn a little money. Other than the activities, though, I think
it was a case of everybody was there because everybody was there.
The Community House Woman’s Club was once one of the most active organizations in town and held
many events. I don’t know when high school proms moved on to other locations, but they were held at
the Community House at least through the fifties. I can recall my mother taking various classes there,
including home nursing, cake decoration, enamel on copper and painting. There were also classes in
woodworking, photography and many others. There’s a list of current activities below this 1923 Cotton
Hopedale Community House
Gift of George A. Draper
By this number of Cotton Chats we present a collection of pictures of the new Hopedale
Community House and its appointments.
Designed to be the social and civic center of Hopedale residents and the Draper Corporation
employees from towns around, this beautifully appointed Community house was planned and built to
meet what the late George A. Draper felt was the most pressing unsatisfied requirement of the town
where he was born, of which he had been a lifelong resident and for which he had an abiding love.
Made possible by this munificent gift while still alive for the building and its endowment, it was
approaching completion when his untimely and sudden death last February prevented his seeing the
finished structure and being present at its opening in June.
It was in 1919 that Mr. Draper, who had often talked of the need in Hopedale of a proper
community center, decided to meet that need at his own expense. He called together seven leading
citizens of the town and gave a general outline of his plan and what he was willing to do in the way of
providing funds to make possible its consummation. These seven men, later the Trustees of
Hopedale Community House, Inc., were Frank J. Dutcher, E.D. Bancroft, C.E. Nutting, W.I. Stimson, D.
F. Butterworth, F.A. Darling and Dana Osgood. Mr. Dutcher, is president of the corporation, Mr. Darling,
secretary and Mr. Butterworth, treasurer.
To these seven men Mr. Draper left the working out of the details of the plans and the
determination of what town activities should be provided for in the new community home. They
accepted their duties as a sacred trust and devoted more than two years to study of the work of similar
institutions in all parts of the country and careful thought and discussion of the special requirements of
our own people.
The plans for the building were made by Edwin J. Lewis, Jr., of Boston, and the contract was
awarded early in 1922 to the Casper Ranger Construction Co. of Holyoke. Work was commenced that
spring and the building was turned over to the trustees at a simple formal opening on June 23 of this
year, the keys being presented by Mrs. Helen Draper Taft, daughter of Mr. Draper, and received by Mr.
Dutcher for the trustees.
The house has been open for use since August 1. The regular winter program of activities with
gymnasium classes will begin October 1. These classes, open to men, women, boys and girls, will be
under the direction of Robert E. Gourlie, recently of Newport, R.I., who has been appointed instructor
and supervisor of the building.
The House Committee is Wallace I. Stimson, Dana Osgood and C. Fred Butterworth.
The pictures of succeeding pages show the excellent plan and splendid equipment of the
building. The Banquet Hall is also used for gymnasium classes. It had not been equipped for this
work when the pictures were taken. Cotton Chats, September 1923
Click here to see pictures of the Community House that were included in that issue of Cotton Chats.
Community House winter 2007 list of activities includes: golf lessons, muscle sculpting, tai chi, hatha
yoga, power yoga, safe exercise, aerobics, rug hooking, men’s basketball, coed volleyball, pre-school
crafts, jr, bowling, bowling, pool and ping pong, and Whitin Community Center swimming (Community
House membership allows access to Whitin pool). See Community House website for details.
If you grew up in the fifties, you probably remember the “duck and cover” practice sessions that
involved getting under your bomb-proof desk for protection from nuclear attack. Here’s a Milford News
article from that era on a related matter.
HOPEDALE – Supt. of Schools Donald S. Dow last night submitted to the School Committee a report
on the procedure to be used in local schools in the event of an enemy nuclear attack.
The superintendent said pupils within walking distance will be sent home immediately and that
special preference would be given to children who are transported by bus.
Supt. Dow noted that a problem exists with bus pupils. Explaining that between 450 and 500
students are transported daily, he said the system has only three school busses that seat a total of
180 children. He felt that in case of emergency there would be time for only one trip.
“If we have enough warning of an attack in advance, we could get everyone home,” he said. He
added that he is working out details of the transportation matter.
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