Basketball will make its debut in the new $350,000 gymnasium early in December, according to
present plans. The building, made possible by a donor who desires to remain unknown, will
become part of Hopedale Community House, Inc., with the same managing board. Gordon A.
Norton, director, is in charge of both buildings. Milford Daily News, October 31, 1955. Who could
this donor have been? Perhaps the name of the gym is a clue: The George Albert Draper
Gymnasium. George had two children; Helen and Wickliffe. Helen, twice married (the first time to a
nephew of William Howard Taft) and twice divorced, didn't have any children and died in 1933.
Wickliffe, who had received about half of his father's $10.7 million estate in 1923, received most of the
rest of it when his sister died. He never married and spent his life giving his money away, usually
anonymously. Most of this money was donated through an organization known as The Pioneer Fund.
Perhaps he wanted to have his father's name honored and remembered in Hopedale. George Albert
gave the money to build the Community House but it wasn't named for him. Now we have a building
that is. It seems that Wickliffe, more than anyone else, would have wanted the gym named after
George A. Draper. Of course, it's possible that another donor gave the money and the authority to
make all decisions concerning the building, including its name, to the trustees of the Community
House. If so, the name would have been a logical choice for them to make. This seems less likely,
I wrote the paragraph above several years ago; probably in 2003. I hadn't seen any sort of evidence
regarding Wickliffe and the gym, other that the circumstances mentioned above. In July 2006, while
looking through some old Hopedale material at the Bancroft Library, I came across a handwritten
paper about the gym that begins with the following paragraph:
"The building of the gymnasium was made possible only because of the gift of money for the
purpose by one who wished to remain anonymous. It later became knowledge that Wickliffe Draper
gave the gymnasium in memory of his father."
Unfortunately, the writer of this paragraph is also anonymous. I think it was probably written by
Hopedale Historical Society member Margaret Woodhead. There are several other papers by her,
written for the society, with similar handwriting. The idea that the donor was Wickliffe was probably
held by people who knew who was who in the Draper family, including members of the Historical
Society, but I don't think it was a common belief around town. Wickliffe had spent very little time in
Hopedale after the early 1920s, and by 1955 there weren't many people who remembered him. The
only guess that I recall hearing at the time, was the Princess Boncompagne might have been the
donor. I think the reason for that was that while Wickliffe was largely forgotten, most people in
Hopedale at the time the gym was built, either knew the princess, had seen her on a visit here, or at
least had heard about her. When they tried to figure out who the donor was, she was the Draper who
would come to mind.
of the Hopedale Foundation in 2015.
Click here for two Milford News articles about the opening of the gym. More on Wickliffe Draper
The Civil War wrought a great change in Hopedale. Excitement ran high, and with some, the Non-
Resistant principles were overcome by the "Spirit of '76." The Post Office was at that time, a room in
the house, now occupied by Mrs. Susan Whitney, and at mail time was filled with a crowd eager for
the New York Tribune, with its details of the killed and wounded in engagements. The battlefield,
"Andersonville Prison Pen," and disease claimed as victims several who enlisted from Hopedale,
and the peaceful life of Hopedale was over for a time. Since then Hopedale has become a
flourishing town; many of the old residents have passed away, and old landmarks are fast
disappearing, but as advancing years bring more vividly memories of the past, I realize that some of
the happiest hours of my life were those spent in "Old Community Days." Nellie T. Gifford, Hopedale
Reminiscences, pp. 54-55.
There lived in Hopedale, in a little house at the corner of Union and Dutcher Streets, although
Dutcher Street was not there then, four unmarried sisters. Mary Ann, albeit the youngest, so much
desired to be married that she advertised for a husband in some paper. I think it was the
"Phrenological Journal." One morning Mr. Humphrey came to my father's and asked if I would do an
errand for a man who was stopping at his house. I gladly consented and upon going to the
gentleman received a letter which I was requested to carry to Mary Ann Hayward and wait for a reply. I
distinctly remember what excitement prevailed among the sisters and how Mary Ann hastened to pen
the answer. This I duly carried to the waiting gentleman and O, what bliss!! I received a bright new
ten-cent piece for my trouble. The man proved to be Justin Soule who had answered Mary Ann's
advertisement. Soon after they were married and, as far as I know, lived happily ever after. Susan
Thwing Whitney, Hopedale Reminiscences, pp. 18-19.
Mention should be made of what was done the same year  towards the construction of our
main thoroughfare through the village, now called Hopedale Street. It had been laid out in a
northwesterly and southeasterly direction in the original survey of the residential portion of our territory
without regard to any pre-existing highways, cutting across the old tortuous Magomiscock road near
the junction of Hopedale and Union Streets, but little had been done towards making it passable. It
ran over an uneven surface, rocky and considerably elevated in some places but low and marshy in
others. Material excavated from the higher portions of it was transferred to the more depressed and
wet localities, and before winter set in a tolerably good wagon-way was opened and a promising
beginning made of a future excellent thoroughfare. People of the present generation little dream of
the labors undergone in those early days and afterward to make the rough places of Hopedale
smooth and its uncomely areas fair and beautiful. Adin Ballou, The History of the Hopedale
Community, pp. 111-112.
The boys in the senior class at high school were given the week off to harvest the ice in the 1930s.
We got about $30/35 each for the Washington trip expenses. We also collected newspapers which
we tied up and sold to the Draper Corp. for the trip. William Barney, June 23, 2002
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