Hopedale Street is near the bottom of the picture. The Water Cure House is in the middle, on the far side of the street. The houses at the bottom are no longer there, having been replaced many years ago by additions to the Draper shop.

Hopedale History
July 15, 2010
No. 160
The Water Cure House

Hopedale in July  

Hopedale High field hockey team, 1966  

House fire at 17 Park Street – Milford Daily News article

Did you ever shoot rats at the dump, climb on piles of pig iron, or skate at Pete’s Meadow?
Here are some memories of Hopedale in the good old days, sent by Bob Holmes. I’ve had some of Bob’s stories on my Hopedale website for a couple of years. The Pete’s Meadow, etc. addition, sent at the end of June, is at the bottom.


Until I took an interest in Hopedale history a few years ago, I had never heard of the Water Cure House. Since that time however, I’ve run across three people who lived there in three different decades and knew it by that name. Those of you who live in Hopedale will have noticed that flowers in hanging baskets are placed on the Draper shop at Hopedale Street several times a year. That’s done by a woman who lives in the house at the corner of Hopedale and Union streets, (across Union from Simoneau’s Barber Shop) on the site where the Water Cure House once stood.

Apartment Building in Hopedale
                                    Once Was “Water Cure House”

By Napier Scribner

HOPEDALE – In 1850 Hopedale had an infirmary known as the “Water Cure House.” It still stands at Hopedale and Union streets but now it’s an apartment house. (
That was true when this article was written, but it was razed some years ago. Click on the link to the Wilmarths and the Water Cure House near the bottom of this page to see a photo of the house that is on the site now.)

This method of treating diseases by the free and judicious use of pure water accompanied by a greatly diminished use of drugs and medicines known as hydropathy had quite a few adherents a century ago. Dr. Butler Wilmarth, a practitioner, quite incredulous at first at the new system, looked carefully into it after witnessing the cure of a four-year old son of William H. Fish who had been stricken with scarlet fever. He was then converted to hydropathy. (
Fish later wrote a book about Wilmarth. I found it for sale on a rare books site for $275.)

Convinced of the efficiency of water as a remedial agent, he started the infirmary for the accommodation and treatment of patients, however affected, according to the principles and requirements of the hydropathic system. The Community was sympathetic and voted in April 1850 “to appropriate $600 to establish the Water Cure Infirmary provided joint stock can be obtained for the purpose.”

The funds were forthcoming, and the large double house built by Amos J. Cook and Edmund Price, which had come into the possession of the Community, was remodeled and fitted for the purpose during the ensuing summer. It was opened in September 1850.

An advertisement at the time said, “This establishment is situated in the pleasant and peaceful village of Hopedale and is under the care of Dr. Butler Wilmarth, who, with his wife, will devote their constant attention and services to restore to health all who place themselves under their care as patients. Terms: $4 to $5 per week (payment weekly) exclusive of washing. Extra privileges or attention will subject the patients to extra charges. Patients will furnish the usual articles for treatment.”

The institution was a financial failure. After it had been open a few months it was deemed expedient to close it and restore the building to its original use. The Draper industry here owned the building for many years until it was sold a few years ago to Francis Larkin of Milford.

Wilmarth subsequently received a flattering offer to take charge of a similar establishment at New Graefenburg, N.Y., which had already acquired a good reputation with the general public. He moved his family there in the spring of 1851, much to the regret of the people of Hopedale, who held Wilmarth in sincere esteem as a truly Christian man and a physician of high degree.

The two-story house has been known ever since 1850 as “The Water Cure House,” and this name rings a bell with many of the older residents. The younger people, however, treat mention of it as a joke. It was not intended as such, but was a serious movement on the part of Wilmarth.
The Worcester Telegram. No date on clipping – probably 1967.

The Wilmarths and the Water Cure House
  including a picture of Butler Wilmarth and pictures of the house.


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