The Little Red Shop
Cotton Chats - April 1952
bustling Main Office and his long trip through the many Departments of the Shop with their floors of
humming machine tools and busy workers. He hears about the branch plants, sales offices,
warehouses, and timberlands in many different states and countries that supplement these
facilities in Hopedale. He seldom looks back and considers the birthplace of this great textile
machinery company - the largest manufacturer of automatic looms in the world.
Across Freedom Street from the Main Plant, alongside the quiet mill pond, sits "The Little Red
Shop" as it is affectionately called. It was in this building, built by Ebenezer D. Draper in 1841, that
the Draper business was begun in Hopedale. The Red Shop was originally one story and one-half
in the main part with a two-story ell on lower ground to the south. Power for the machines was
supplied by a water wheel which was located in the lower floor of the ell. The sketch [above] shows
another section of the shop on the eastern side of the main building, but to date no further
description or mention of it has been found. The sketch was made about 1854.
By 1865 the Red Shop had had two additions which completed the building as it now stands. It is
believed that one of the sections was the old Mechanics building which was the first shop to be built
in 1843 by the Hopedale Community - a Utopia-like social experiment that failed.
Sometime later the three-section shop, minus the ell, was moved to the west side of the river to
allow the Hopedale Machine Company, another Draper business, to be enlarged.
In 1901, after considerable enlargement of the Draper shops, an overhead runway was built from
the main plant to the Red Shop, which then became a part of the new Carpenter shop. Just before
the three-story addition to the latter in 1903, the Red Shop was moved across Freedom Street to a
vacant lot on the west side of the Pond. In 1951 it was moved again to its present location on the
east side of the old mill pond.
Three Buildings Become One
In the museum, the northern section, containing the Counting Room and the antique hand loom
and spinning wheel, is the original Red Shop.
The rest of the building is composed of the two later additions, which date from the years shortly
after the building of the original Red Shop.
During the past year, the Red Shop, used as a storehouse for over half a century, has been
converted into a museum of our products. The Museum will be open to the public.
"The Little Red Shop" as it now stands is divided into three rooms: an old Counting Room, an
exhibition room showing the progress of loom construction in the United States, from the basic
hand loom, through the original Draper-Northrop "A" Model loom - the first automatic loom in the
world - to the most modern Draper High Speed X-2 Cotton and XD Rayon looms, and a
reproduction of the "Cotton Chats" masthead.
The Counting Room
The Counting Room is a reproduction of an early office about the year 1850. The large executive's
desk belonged to George Draper who moved to Hopedale in 1853. The high accountant's desk
and stool is from the collection of early American desks gathered together by Doctor Alfred Cliff of
Boston. Early ledgers and payroll accounts of the Drapers are a necessary addition to the Counting
Room and throw interesting sidelights on business practices of the early days.
The "Trademark" Room
"Cotton Chats" began publication in 1901 and it was soon realized that a proper masthead would
have to be designed. In 1907 a scene showing an old Colonial hand loom was set-up and
reproduced by an artist. This scene has become as much of a trademark of Draper Corporation as
the famous "Diamond D."
"In Days gone By" has been brought to life again in the "Little Red Shop."
The old hand loom was used by the family of Jonathan M. Keyes of West Boylston, Massachusetts
in 1813. While it is a crude, hand-hewn machine, beautiful fabrics can still be woven on it, in spite
of the ancient reed, having bamboo strips for dents, and the plain string heddles.
The old spinning wheel and chairs are authentic and, while the clock is of the proper period, it is
believed that the artist took some liberties with the one shown in the original picture.
A Black Cat
The black cat, sitting so peacefully watching the fire, has an interesting story behind it. Many years
ago in North Adams, the old Arnold Print Works experienced a period of rather poor business and
someone in the mill designed a black cat which was printed on cloth. A housewife cut the pattern
out, sewed the sides together, and stuffed it. The fad spread like wildfire and thousands upon
thousands of the cat patterns were sold. In trying to locate an Arnold printed cat for the Museum, the
Editor of the North Adams Transcript wrote an editorial for us asking for information and received
several reports of Arnold printed and stuffed soldiers and "Felix the Cat" replicas, the latter a
somewhat later edition of our cat. As we go to press, a true replica of the Arnold printed cat has not
Among the exhibits are the famous Draper Spindles. George Draper was the leader and driving
force in the great development of ring spinning that proved it so superior in cost of operation and
quantity of production of cotton yarns that the mule spinning frame was relegated to a very narrow
field - that of spinning fine and soft yarns.
John Thorp invented ring spinning. George Draper made it practical and an economical way of
producing cotton yarn. Some of the spindles on exhibition are the Sawyer spindle, the Rabbeth
spindle, the Rabbeth Top spindle, and the modern Draper spindle with the Stimpson Clutch.
Cotton and Rayon Looms
In the third room of the "Little Red Shop" one finds an exhibit of Cotton and Rayon looms, from the
early models to the latest Draper High-Speed looms.
A Kilburn and Lincoln common loom built about 1890 and typical of the half million looms that
have been replaced in this century by Drapers, is the first to be encountered. Next comes the
original automatic loom, the "A" Model developed by James Northrop and other members of the
Draper research staff in 1894. The "A" is followed by an old workhorse, the Draper "E" Model, which
was built in 1901 and copied throughout the world. There are several hundred thousand of these
looms still in operation. How they have been modernized is shown by the next loom, the Rebuilt
"E" Last in the cotton line is the High-Speed X-2, the most efficient and productive single shuttle
cotton loom in the world.
The Atwood silk loom, dating back to 1875, is one of the first power looms built to weave a fiber
other than cotton or wool. It is followed by the Draper "K" Model, the first loom adapted especially to
weave the then new fiber, rayon. This loom was built in 1918. Since many mill men believed that a
shuttle-changing loom was necessary for rayon and synthetics, Draper engineers designed the "C"
Model, a shuttle changer. The one on exhibition was built in 1932. The final model is the High-
Speed XD bobbin-changing loom, which has proven itself to be the finest rayon and synthetic single-
shuttle loom throughout the world.
The "Little Red Shop" is no longer an orphan to be moved about from place to place. It is now the
This issue of Cotton Chats was donated by Sally (Harlow) Harris. It is a wonderful addition to the
material on the Little Red Shop. It also leaves us with more questions. The picture at the top
doesn't look anything like the Shop we now know, except possibly the part at the back that appears
on the right. That looks like it could be what we see in the picture of the shop that is two stories
high. The article tells us that "the three-section shop, minus the ell, was moved to the west side of
the river..." In the second paragraph we see, "The sketch shows another section of the shop on the
eastern side of the main building." This sentence seems to suggest that the part that we can barely
see is what we now know as The Little Red Shop. However, it also refers to the two story part on the
south as the ell. If the ell is the two story section in the back and it wasn't moved.... and in 1903 the
part that was moved was moved again, to Lake Street this time....Hmmm.... That would seem to
suggest that the part that was moved was the part that makes up most of the picture at the top of this
page, but the pictures we have from around 1900 don't look like it, nor does the Shop we know now.
Take a look at this map and see if you think it clears up what we see in the picture.
Another article that further complicates the question of the origin of The Little Red Shop is in the
Community Affairs section of the Practical Christian (the Community newspaper) on June 11, 1842.
In it, Adin Ballou states, "We have...errected a new building 32 by 14 feet, one and a half storiy
above the basement; calculated for a Printing Office, schoolroom, two upper sleeping rooms and
two basement shop rooms... The brethren have just completed building a dam and the foundation
of a Mechanics shop to be 30 by 40 feet, two stories high above the basement, designed for various
machines to be operated by water power." (Click here to go to the complete article.) At one time I
thought that the shop completed in 1843 must be The Little Red Shop because it was referred to as
the mechanic shop. However, with the dimensions given here, neither the 1842 shop nor the 1843
building would seem to be the one. The shop we have today is approximately 20 x 90. The length
isn't a problem. We knew that it had been lengthened long ago. The width, however, doesn't match
either building described . Here's a guess as to what may have happened. The building at the front
in the picture above was the one built in 1842. Later the part at the back (which appears on the
right in the picture at the top of this page) was added. At some point the whole building became
known as The Little Red Shop but when it was moved to its second location only the addition went.
The original building may have been demolished at that time. The 1843 shop may have become
the first home of the Dutcher Temple Company.
The Cotton Chats article states that the runway (or walkway) was constructed in 1901. However, it
can be seen in a number of photos taken earlier than that, including one dated 1880 and two dated
1882 in John Garner's Model Company Town. (pp.133, 134, 137)
On another matter, the year 1841 is given twice and 1843 is given once in the article above. The
writings of Adin Ballou indicate that the Community was being organized in 1841 but the first shop
wasn't built until 1842.
While the second paragraph of the article states that the shop was built by Ebenezer Draper, I feel
it would be more accurate to say that it was built by the Hopedale Community, of which Ebenezer
was a very important member.
To start a series of photos of The Little Red Shop on its second, third and fourth locations and
speculation on the origin of the cupola, click here, or select them from the Red Shop Menu. For
pictures of the looms and views of the inside of the shop, go to the Little Red Shop Interior Menu
Click here to see pictures of the move of the shop to the Hopedale Street site.