visited the town of Hopedale, where is situated that great company, the Draper Company, where our
governor (Eben Draper) makes his home.
Ideally located, Hopedale is on the Mill River, occupying the slopes of two hills and the intervening
valley. The main street contains the business establishments, the chief public buildings, the mills,
and some residences, though the larger number of the latter are on the broad, macadamized
streets that ascend the hill, many being fine specimens of architecture, with extensive grounds. On
the western hill are the newer corporation tenements.
One great corporation owns or controls the entire industry and a large part of the property. This
came about as the result of the settlement here of a religious community founded by the Rev. Adin
Ballou, which in 1856, having reached the point where its needs were not equaled by its products
and where debt threatened to overwhelm it, turned over to the Drapers all its property and
Hopedale was formerly a part of the town of Milford, but in 1886 the separate incorporation took
place and since that time the improvements have been rapid and important. Electric and gas
lighting, water supply and sewerage, macadamized streets and concrete sidewalks, and find new
school houses are a few that may be mentioned. Of course, the enormous extension of the shops of
the Draper Company in the last quarter of a century has been the principal cause.
The Draper Company, the larges manufacturer of cotton machinery in America, and the largest
manufacturer and assemblers of cast metal parts in New England, represent a consistent product
of evolution. As far back as their history is known, the Drapers were connected with that line. The
first, however, to start in the distinct branch of machine improvement was Ira Draper, a prominent
inventor who took out a patent in 1816 for a device called a “temple,” for holding the cloth at the
sides on a weaving loom. The use of this idea at once doubled the productive capacity of the
operative, and a small business was thus founded, which continued in the control of this particular
branch of manufacturers until the present day. Three sons of Ira Draper continued the introduction of
these temples, the youngest, George Draper, however, being the only one to remain in the business.
The establishment of the manufacturing of these temples in Hopedale was due to the connection of
another brother, E.D. Draper, with the religious community mentioned above. The business
branched out into other fields before the war, and after the war had grown so that it was divided
under the management of four separate organizations, all of which were, however, controlled by the
Draper interests. Both plant and output steadily expanded, requiring the organization of more
In 1897, the majority of the various interests were united as one corporation, the Draper Company,
and since that time plant and business have more than doubled, the former now occupying twenty-
eight acres of floor space, having employed over 3,000 hands atone time, with a capacity for a much
As outlined, the history of this development is not essentially different from that of many other
manufacturing concerns. The importance of the products, however, has been of a distinct character,
for, since the start, practically all the machinery has been controlled by patents, the energies of the
various organizations being devoted exclusively to the improvement of processes for the
manufacture of cloth.
To illustrate the importance and success of these inventions, it has been asserted that they have
doubled the capacity of the operatives in at least five of the departments of a cotton mill. It is said that
the new loom, the Northrop, is weaving over twenty-five per cent of all the plain cloths that are made
in the United States.
The various companies included in the present corporation have at different times controlled over
1,800 patents. About one-quarter of these have been the inventions of the Drapers or their family
connections, and considerably more than one-half were invented by those employed by the
company. Several professional inventors are continually employed, who do nothing but devote their
energy to the improvements of machinery already successfully introduced. Boston American,
October 30, 1910.
|Town of Hopedale Upbuilt by
Success of Big Draper Industry
By John W. Denehy