| Site Protection
From the very beginning the Draper Company turned its attention to site protection. Landscaping would be enhanced by paying careful attention to the upkeep of open spaces. Every effort would be made to police the premises. The company left nothing to chance. Garbage and rubbish were regularly picked up as a company service, and junk was not permitted to accumulate on vacant lots. No fences were put up, which would further divide small yards and interfere with the appearance of open spaces. Not even around the houses of the owning families could fences be built. "Of course there are other property and estates in Hopedale than those owned by the Drapers, but from the property owned by them - that is, in front of and from around the cottages of the employees - all fences are being removed, thus giving the town a much closer resemblance to South Manchester." [Boston Herald, Oct. 25, 1887, p. 5.]
Also banned were street signs: one employee who came to work in Hopedale in 1910 thought it strange that the company could furnish attractive homes and streets but could not afford street signs. He learned later that this omission was by design. William F. Draper insisted so much on a natural setting with wide vistas that he refused to place distractive numbers or addresses on company houses. Not until after the turn of the century was mail delivered to an individual's home. Before then, mail had to be picked up at the post office. The result of site protection enabled Hopedale to maintain as much as possible the naturalness of its environment at to avoid all the ugly man-made obstacles that normally obstruct yards and streets.
An argument can be made that the company thwarted efforts to personalize houses and grounds; yet no rules described how houses could be kept or appointed inside, so long as property was not damaged or destroyed. After the turn of the century and the advent of the automobile, the open landscape of model company towns, like other small towns designed for pedestrians, encountered a formidable enemy. Autos were parked everywhere. Some were driven into front yards, while others straddled sidewalks and occupied streets. At Hopedale (which contained six autos in 1910) all vehicles were treated as storage items, to be displayed only when in use. During the 1890s storage sheds had been constructed along service roads behind houses for family use. However, rather than being aligned in rows immediately behind the houses, they were grouped in one location. These storage sheds, which later became garages, sat apart from the hoses and were hidden from street sight. At the Lake Point development these storage sheds occupy spaces entirely removed from the houses in a common arrangement off by themselves and fenced by trees from the view of passersby. (Recently these sheds have been rebuilt in brick exclusively for autos.) Providing an unobtrusive way to store the automobile, the design of such a communal garage arrangement is now readily employed in new towns where pedestrians and vehicular traffic is separated. John Garner, Model Company Town, 1982, pp. 161 - 162.
Garner's observation about the sheds becoming car garages, when he wrote this in 1982, can now be reversed.. The brick garages built off of Lake Street and Jones Road in the 1950s are now rented for storage. There are about as many of the old wooden garages remaining, as there were cars in town in 1910. Recalling that year, Charles Merrill wrote, "I can name six people who had automobiles in 1910. There may have been a few more, but surely all the cars in town would not exceed a dozen, and these were not all in daily use. So it was that the sound of a motor was rarely heard, and the skies overhead were the exclusive domain of clouds and birds, as I firmly believe the Creator intended. The heavens had not yet been desecrated by roaring monsters, because only recently had the Wright brothers succeeded in getting off he ground for a few seconds." Charles F. Merrill, Hopedale As I Found It, p. 3.
Garner's comment about street signs and people picking up their mail at the post office strangely stops short of making the connection. I've seen elsewhere that the Drapers felt that too many signs contributed to a cluttered look, and therefore street signs weren't erected in Hopedale until the post office required it when they started home delivery.
Draper Menu HOME