stretched to the desired degree as it was woven in a loom. Eventually his son, Ebenezer, obtained the
patent. Ebenezer and his wife, Anna, were among the original members of the Hopedale Community.
The temple became one of a number of products manufactured in the little shop at the Freedom Street
dam on the Mill River. It was, however, the most financially successful product. In 1853, Ebenezer's
brother, George, moved to Hopedale and joined the Community. By 1856, the temple was selling so
well that Ebenezer and George owned three-quarters of the stock in the Community. They decided to
withdraw their investment, which resulted in the failure of the Community. Over the next several
decades, the company the Draper brothers formed produced and sold many different parts for
spinning and weaving machinery, and in 1894 they sold their first looms.
Here's what the official Draper history has to say on the matter:
In 1816 Ira was granted a patent on an improved fly-shuttle hand loom. It was superior in many ways
to the hand looms then in use, but the advent of the power loom made it inadvisable to push its
manufacture and sale.
A feature of his loom patent, however, was the fact that it covered the invention of the first self-acting
loom temple, which proved as timely as his loom was untimely. It was attached to the loom breast
beam, held the cloth over a revolving star wheel, and was practically automatic. The temples in use at
that time were of the stretcher type and had to be taken off and readjusted so often they required a
considerable part of the weaver's time and labor.
Mr. Daper's temple, by relieving the weaver of this time-killing labor, greatly increased the product of
the new power looms and enabled the weaver to run two looms instead of one. For fifty years, or until
England began to use self-acting temples, it established and kept the number of looms per weaver in
American mills above that of their English cousins.
Ira Draper's invention of the temple was notable in textile history for several reasons. It was the
second invention in the textile field by an American. Eli Whitney's cotton gin was the first. It came at a
time to contribute powerfully to the successful establishment of the factory system in America. It was
outstandingly notable because it became the foundation of the business of Draper Corporation which
through five generations of Drapers has given the American textile industry hundreds of machines and
devices that have marked the progress of cloth-making in this country. William H. Chase, Five
Generations of Loom Builders, pp. 4 - 5.
A little further on, Chase continues with the next development in temples:
In 1854 he [George Draper] bought an interest in the new Dutcher temple, then made in North
Bennington, Vt., the first temple with cylindrical rolls and the first to be reciprocated by the lay. The
business was moved to Hopedale two years later, when the inventor joined the two Draper brothers in
the partnership of W.W. Dutcher & Co. Chase, p. 7.
The photos below show the Dutcher temple. The temples are circled in red in the first two pictures.
The real working part, the temple roll, is out of sight. It's a small, rotating cylinder with many projecting
points which engage the cloth as it passes by. You can see the roll in the fourth picture and in a page
from a Dutcher catalog at the bottom. Temple rolls were produced in an area of the shop called the roll
room. Only women were employed for this job. (Starting during World War I women were hired for
other jobs in Drapers, but up until then, the roll room was the only department where they were allowed
to work. Actually, so far I've been unable to find out in what year women were first hired to work in the
roll room.) Instead of patenting the process of inserting the teeth into the cylinder, Drapers kept it
secret. The roll room was kept locked. Ira's temple was patented, but it seems that either the Ducher
and later models or the process of manufacturing them, or both, weren't.
Draper Menu Bobbin battery Inventors of Hopedale
Red Shop Interior Menu HOME
The Draper temple
Draper, inherited his father's temple patent. Above is the first
ad he placed for their sale. It was in the first issue of the
Boston Daily Evening Transcript, July 24, 1830
The article below is from Mechanical and Organizational Innovation: The Drapers and
the Automatic Loom by William Maas. It was published in the Winter 1989 issue of
The Business History Review. Thanks to Giancarlo BonTempo for sending it.