The original chapel and school of the Hopedale Community, located on Hopedale Street between Chapel and Freedom streets.
The Practical Christian Church, built in 1860, razed and replaced on the same site in 1898 with the present church.
The Memorial Church, built by Eben and George Albert Draper in memory of their parents, George and Hannah Draper.
July 1, 2010
The Hopedale Parish
Hopedale in June
Pictures of the Memorial (Gen. Draper) Library at Hopedale High School
Draper war work – the howitzers. Nine pages from Cotton Chats.
The Ski Hill (photos from the Milford News, 1967 and 1968)
Hopedale High National Honor Society, 1966
G&U photos taken in Grafton and Upton, June 14.
Hopedale Pond Running Low (Milford News article, June 24.) Pictures of the pond for the last few months.
Thanks to Mike Cyr for sending me Gilbert Thompson’s thumbprint receipt for $75, made out to “Lying Bob.” If you’ve read my page on Thompson, you may recall it well enough to realize why Mike would send it. Click here to read about Thompson, one of the interesting characters who grew up in the Hopedale Community, now including the receipt.
The Hopedale Parish
By Peter Hackett
This is to sing Happy Birthday and hearty congratulations to the members and friends of Hopedale’s Unitarian Church who will be celebrating the 100th anniversary of their church, Sunday, Oct 29.  The actual anniversary date is Oct. 27. It was then in 1867 when the church was founded. In the interest of historical accuracy the anniversary commemorates the founding, not of the Unitarian Church, as such, but rather of The Hopedale Parish, the history of which we shall now review.
The Hopedale Parish is historically connected with the Hopedale Community which was founded in 1840 by that great man of Hopedale and Milford history, Rev. Adin Ballou. It is an integral and interesting part of the Hopedale story which, historically, begins with the Hopedale Community. The Constitution which Ballou drafted for the Community was signed by thirty-two members, some of whom, it is interesting to note, were also founders of The Hopedale Parish.
The Community was a notable venture in social reform based on Ballou’s concept of what he termed Practical Christianity. Like other similar Communities scattered around the country at that time, such as Alcott’s Fruitlands at Harvard and the Brook Farm at Roxbury, it was too idealistic and impractical. Its economy depended on agriculture and a number of small industrial enterprises that Ballou admitted were poorly organized and inefficiently managed, resulting finally in the bankruptcy of the Community in 1856. The bankruptcy was precipitated when the Draper brothers, Ebenezer and George, withdrew from the Community. They were its largest stockholders and had been underwriting its losses for a number of years.
Following the crisis of 1856, the Community’s assets – real estate, water rights, shops and dwelling houses were turned over to the Draper brothers. By agreement the Community was allowed control of the church and the Village Cemetery and for a number of years continued mostly in name only as a kind of religious society. The church referred to was the chapel that stood on the banking near the north end of the Draper main office. The cross street at that point, Chapel Street, takes its name from the chapel, as does the [long gone] nearby school.
Built in 1843, the Chapel was used by the Community for religious services till 1860. It was also used as a school and for meetings. After 1860 it was converted into tenements by Draper and used as such till 1955 when it was razed. A simple little building, yet one of the most historic in Hopedale, it should be remembered by placing a plaque on or near the site.
Prior to 1856 the village of Hopedale belonged to the Community. Only members could live there. After that date the Community lost control of the village to the Drapers, resulting in families from the surrounding towns moving into the village. The little chapel which had served so well for so many years was no longer adequate, so a new church was built in 1860 on the site of the present Unitarian Church and was named the Practical Christian Church of Hopedale.
By the time the church was built the character of the village had changed considerably. Many of the Community members left the village after the 1856 crisis. On the other hand many families from the towns around were moving into the village. These were not members of the Community and as such, soon outnumbered those who were. As a matter of custom, many of them attended the church ( the only church in the village) but they had no say, or rights, as to the management of the church – it still being the Community church.
This together with the fact that they were asked annually to contribute to the financial support of the church seemed unfair, and was eventually recognized as such. Born out of this confused, and we may say, unhappy state of affairs there came like a breath of nice fresh, cool, October air, the organization of a new religious society which styled itself The Hopedale Parish. The date was Oct. 27, 1867. Note the name the new society gave itself – The Hopedale Parish. Three months after its organization, it became a member of “The Worcester Conference of Congregational (Unitarian) and Other Christian Societies.”
The first minister of the new organization was Adin Ballou, that great man of high esteem and sacred memory, in Hopedale and Milford where he labored so long and to such good purpose.
The Hopedale Community recognizing that its end had come immediately transferred its allegiance to the Hopedale Parish. Later it did so formally, at its annually meeting, Jan. 8, 1868. This was the last act of the Hopedale Community in regular meeting assembled.
Six years later the Real Estate Trustees of the Community transferred all its rights and titles to the Trustees of The Hopedale Parish. Still two years later, Dec. 7, 1875, there passed into the hands of The Hopedale Parish the balance of the so-called Soward Fund. Included in the transfers was the Community’s Practical Christian Church edifice which was used until 1898 when the present church was built. Milford Daily News.
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