The Water Cure House is in the middle of this picture, just across Hopedale Street from the two
    houses in the foreground. For many years there were houses on the west side of Hopedale Street.
    Expansion of the shop, probably a bit after 1890, resulted in them being moved. (I've seen that some
    were moved to Prospect Street, and others to Hopedale Street, south of Route 16.) The Water Cure
    House was razed in 1968.

     The Water Cure House in 1967. It was razed the next year.

    When former Water Cure House resident, Richard Bodreau first looked
    at this page and saw the Milford News photo above, he got quite a
    surprise. Here's his comment on it.."My first car. 1956 Chevy parked in
    the yard of Water Cure House... LOL."

    Butler and Phila Wilmarth and their three children are
    buried near this stone at Hopedale Village Cemetery.
    The name on the stone is that of their daughter.

    This is the house that is now on the site
    where the Water Cure House once stood.    

                                         The Wilmarths and the Water Cure

    If anything was ailing anyone living in the Hopedale Community, (Hopedale, Massachusetts) they could
    go to the Water Cure House on what is now Hopedale Street and have Drs. Butler and Phila Wilmarth
    tend to them. Well, for a few months in 1850 they could, anyway. The name "Water Cure House"lived on
    long after the place closed and even after Wilmarths were buried in the Hopedale Village Cemetery. It
    was known by that name up until the time it was razed in 1968. The Bancroft Library has a book about
    the water cure by Butler and bound copies of the Water Cure Journal, which contains all you'd ever
    want to know about the treatment. The information on the Wilmarths below was found on a website.

    DR. BUTLER WILMARTH - the illegitimate son of Peggy Coleman; grandson of James Coleman, a
    native of Ireland, whose wife's maiden name was Molly Wetherell (a descendant of the first settler);
    was born Dec. 18, 1798. Uncertain who his father was, but believed a man of some note in town. June
    28, 1802, Butler was bound out by the selectmen to Amos Wilmarth of Rowe, till he was 21 years old to
    learn the art of husbandry. Then was adopted by Mr. Wilmarth, and took his name. Though compelled
    to labor hard during his minority, he managed to gather sufficient education to teach school. About 23
    years old, he began the study of medicine with Dr. William F. Selden of Amherst, paying his board by
    working on the farm. He put himself under the tuition of Dr. Brigham of Greenfield, who soon after
    moved away. Without having completed his studies, and without any diploma or license, with that self-
    reliance that always characterized his actions, entered upon the duties of physician at Montague
    (where his foster-father had resided), and soon won the confidence and respect of many influential
    citizens, and became widely known as a skillful practitioner.

    In 1831 he married Phila Osgood of Wendell, and had two children. About 1834 he removed to
    Leverett. Ten years later he joined the Hopedale Community at Milford. In 1847 ill health sent him to the
    Watercure Institution at New Lebanon, N.Y., where he was so much benefited that he became a
    convert to hydropathy. In 1852 he and Dr. J.H. Hero opened a Water Cure at Westborough. In 1851 he
    was chosen President of the Hydropathic Association of Physicians and Surgeons which then met at
    NYC. In 1853 as he returned home from the annual meeting of which he was still president, the ill-
    fated train was precipitated into the river at Norwalk, CT (and probably by drowning) his life was
    terminated on May 6, 1853.

    The information above is from:

    Here's what Adin Ballou had to say about the Wilmarths and the water cure in his History of the
    Hopedale Community.

    The Hopedale Water Cure Establishment. The method of treating disease by a free and judicious use
    of pure water accompanied by a greatly diminished resort to drugs and medicines, usually termed
    Hydropathy, had a few adherents among us at an early day. Our genial, cautious, open-minded,
    conscientious physician, Butler Wilmarth, M.D., a skillful practitioner of the Allopathic school, quite
    incredulous at first of the new system, was led to look carefully into its workings and merits by
    witnessing the somewhat wonderful cure through its agency of a little boy -- the four year old son of
    Bro. Wm. H. Fish -- who had been stricken down with a severe and alarming attack of scarlet fever. The
    result of his investigation was a thorough conversion to and subsequent championship of its claims at
    home and abroad whenever his voice could be heard. Having become fully convinced of the essential
    efficacy of water as a remedial agent, and the antidotes and restoratives employed in connection
    therewith, he very soon started the project of founding an Infirmary at Hopedale for the accommodation
    and treatment of patients, however afflicted, according to the principles and requirements of the
    Hydropathic system. The Community, to whose members he made and appeal for approval and help
    as soon as his plans were sufficiently mature, being favorably disposed towards the undertaking,
    voted in April 1850, "to appropriate $600.00 to establish a Water Cure Infirmary, provided new Joint-
    Stock can be obtained" for that purpose. The funds were forthcoming and the large double house built
    by Amos J. Cook and Edmund Price, which had come into the possession of the Community, was
    remodeled and fitted up of the purpose indicated during the ensuing summer. In the month of
    September it was opened to the public agreeably to the terms stated in the following advertisement.

    This institution was something entirely new in this part of the country, as was its mode of treatment for
    the various ills which flesh is heir to, and hence failed of sufficient patronage to render it pecuniarily
    successful. It was therefore deemed expedient, after it had been open a few months, to close it and
    restore the building to its original use. This decision was made with the entire approval of Dr. Wilmarth
    who had received a somewhat flattering offer to take charge of a similar establishment at New
    Graefenburg, N.Y., which had already acquired a good reputation and standing with the general public,
    and to that place he removed with his family in the spring of 1851, much to the regret of all of us, by
    whom he was held in sincere esteem as a truly Christian man and a physician of high degree. Ballou,
    HHC, pp. 204 - 206.

    Here are a couple of paragraphs on Wilmarth from Commune to Company Town.

     Wilmarth was so thoroughly converted [to the concept of the powers of the water cure] that by
    September 1847 he was advertising in the Practical Christian for people to buy stock in his proposed
    "Hopedale Water-Cure infirmary," intended to be a boarding establishment for the sickly of the outside
    world. Despite his promises that the infirmary would cure a long list of nervous and physical disorders,
    he initially got little support, but eventually the community gave him some assistance. He was a
    popular figure at Hopedale, beloved for his flashes of high good humor and his sharp eye for the
    ludicrous side of human behavior. Moreover with the end of the well-regulated economy, his projected
    infirmary seemed to be the kind of business the village needed. When in 1849 the community again
    initiated a program to expand the range of its enterprises, it fitted up its largest house for the infirmary
    and granted six hundred dollars to begin the new business, the money to be raised by the sale of a
    special issue of its joint stock. By May 1850 the Practical Christian announced that Hopedale was
    prepared to accommodate twenty-five water-cure patients, noting that it was only thirty-two miles from
    Boston by railroad: "We have a free circulation of air through the Dale, abundance of good water,
    pleasant scenery, delightful walking grounds."

    Unfortunately, the hope of making the village a center of Christian health was doomed to
    disappointment by the darker side of Wilmarth's personality. Given to fits of depression and irritability,
    the doctor soon decided that he could not succeed in the water-cure business at Hopedale, and in
    1851 he departed to "operate on a larger scale Hydriatically" as the resident physician at the New
    Graeffenberg Water-Cure Establishment near Utica, New York; two years later, the community was still
    trying to find a use for the vacant water-cure house, possibly as "a bathing place for Males & Females."

    In May 1851 Wilmarth was elected president of the American Hygienic and Hydropathic Association,
    but his career in the outside world was short. He became dissatisfied with his situation at Utica, and in
    1852 entered into a partnership to open a new establishment at Westboro, perhaps with some
    financial assistance from friends at Hopedale. Whether he would have succeeded in this new venture
    was never to be determined, since in May 1853 the train that he was taking to New York plunged off an
    open drawbridge into the Norwalk River in Connecticut, and this great advocate of the curative power of
    water was drowned along with more than fifty other passengers; his body was recovered and buried in
    the Hopedale cemetery, forever among friends. Later, his widow, Phila O. Wilmarth, studied at the
    Female Medical College in Philadelphia and in 1856 advertised that from her home at Hopedale she
    was prepared to attend to the medical problems of the women of the surrounding towns. Edward
    Spann, Hopedale: Commune to Company Town, pp. 60 - 61.

    And here's a bit more from a biography of Wilmarth.

    Here is an unpretending Memoir of an unpretending but most excellent Man, Christian, and Physician.
    Dr. Wilmarth was not widely known, out of his sphere, but he was greatly respected, honored and
    loved. and when the intelligence of his death at the fatal and memorable "Norwalk Bridge," was
    circulated among those who knew him, I doubt if any other victim of that terrible and melancholy tragedy
    was more sincerely and deeply lamented than he.

    Butler Wilmarth ·Married: 1831, Franklin, [County] Massachusetts

    Marriage Information: Butler married Phila Osgood, daughter of Joseph Osgood and Sarah Graves,
    (both born in 1768) in 1831 in Franklin, [County] Massachusetts.

    Phila Osgood ·Born: 21 Nov 1806, Wendell, Franklin, [County]  Massachusetts  ·Married: 1831,
    Franklin, [County] Massachusetts .

    Marriage Information: Phila married Butler Wilmarth in 1831 in Franklin, [County] Massachusetts.

    Joseph Osgood ·Born: 6 Apr 1768, Wendell, Franklin, [County] Massachusetts  ·Married: 1793
    Marriage Information: Joseph married Sarah Graves, daughter of Benoni Graves and Mary Clark, in
    1793. (Sarah Graves was born on 21 Apr 1768 in Sunderland, Franklin, [County] Massachusetts.)

    Anyone who wants to learn more about the water cure could start at the Bancroft Library in Hopedale.
    They have a good number of issues of the Water Cure Journal in the safe.

   Worcester Telegram article on Dr. Wilmarth             Hopedale Community Menu         HOME     


Thanks to Peter Metzke for sending this.

    The two paragraphs above are the introduction to an article Hackett wrote that was
    mainly on Gideon Putnam of Sutton. Putnam established a water cure house at
    Saratoga Springs. The paragraphs above are all there was about Wilmarth in the
    article.As to the mention in the first sentence, that the house was razed to  make room
    for a Draper project, I've never seen that anywhere else. As you've seen above, a duplex
    was built on the site. By 1968, Drapers was owned by Rockwell, and they certainly
    weren't building houses here.

    This Establishment is situated in the pleasant and peaceful village of Hopedale
    (Milford), Mass., and is under the care of Dr. Butler Wilmarth, who, with his wife, will
    devote their constant attention and services to restore to health all who place
    themselves under their care as patients. Terms: $4 to $5 per week (payment weekly)
    exclusive of washing. Extra privileges or attention will subject the patient to extra
    charges. Patients will furnish the usual articles for treatment.
                                                                                                                         B. Wilmarth, M.D.
    Hopedale (Milford), Sept. 28, 1850

    All issues of the Water Cure Journal can be seen at
    the Bancroft Library in Hopedale, Massachusetts.