Mill Town or Shop Village?

    In The History of the Hopedale Community, Adin Ballou on several occasions mentions the mechanic
    shop built by the Community.  When I was a kid in Hopedale in the 1950s, Drapers was always
    referred to as "the shop."  I don't recall it ever being called "the mill."  When the signs pictured above
    were put up someone wrote a letter to The Milford News stating, as I recall, that buildings carrying on
    the type of work done at Drapers weren't called mills; they were shops and therefore, Hopedale wasn't
    a mill village. At around the same time (February 1996), The Milford Daily News printed a picture of
    one of the signs, with the following caption. "Two new, historic signs in Hopedale incorrectly label
    Hopedale as 'A Mill Village.' Apparently the Blackstone Valley 'sign people' don't know their history.
    Draper Corporation was never a mill. It was the largest cotton loom manufacturing plant in the world.
    The signs are both in the downtown area."

    Shortly after that, on March 4, 1996, the News printed another letter on the subject. It read:

    As an aside to the devastating Bernat Mill fire in Uxbridge, I was somewhat disappointed to note your
    paper is still referring to the former Draper Corp. building in Hopedale as the "Draper Mill."  I thought
    that Mr. Sparling had explained in a letter that Drapers wasn't really a mill, it was a shop that
    manufactured textile machinery to service and supply the mills, where cloth was woven.  Perhaps this
    is a very small point to many today, but for we former employees, and longtime residents of Hopedale,
    it makes us cringe to read such a misnomer.  I don't think the signs that proclaim Hopedale as being
    a Mill Town are accurate either.  Don McGrath Hopedale, Milford News on July 29, 2007.

    In recent years the term "mill" has come into common use for all old factories in the area, but in the
    past in Hopedale it was only used when speaking of the Spindleville (or Westcott) Mill.  DM

                                                                    Draper Menu                          HOME     

    And of course the Milford News made it quite clear on the first page of the
    article that they would continue, in spite of the headline, to call it a mill.