The Brae Burn Inn
The Hopedale House
The Park House

                                    Boarding Houses  of Hopedale

Up through at least the 1930s a single working person almost never lived in a house by themselves. The work hours were long, and without modern conveniences the jobs of grocery shopping, clothes washing, cooking, cleaning, etc. took too much time for a working person to manage. Consequently many people were boarders.  

There were four boarding houses in Hopedale: The Brae Burn Inn at the corner of Adin and Hopedale streets, the Hopedale House on Dutcher street, across from the fire station, the Park House, on the corner of Dutcher and Freedom streets, and an unnamed boarding house across Hopedale Street from the Little Red Shop. In addition to these, a look through town directories of the 1920s and 1930s shows that almost anyone who could spare a room would take in a boarder or two. The 1927 town directory lists 629 people as boarders, in addition to those who lived in the boarding houses. Many of that number were adult children, still living with their parents, but many others were not family members.  

The Brae Burn, built in 1856, was originally the home of Ebenezer and Anna Draper.For information on it in its boarding house days, I spoke to Robert “Zeke” Hammond. The inn was operated for many years by Zeke’s in-laws, the Carrons, and their daughter and Zeke’s late wife, Hilda. Mrs. Carron was an invalid for years, so Hilda assisted her father with the endless chores of running the place. The boarders were served twenty meals a week. They were on their own for supper on Sunday nights.

Zeke recalls that there were three boarders living on the top floor and five on the second. The Carrons lived on the second floor also. Across Hopedale Street from the inn, was the Brae Burn Annex. Draper Corporation reserved a suite on the first floor for visitors to the company. About seven boarders lived on the second floor. They’d go across the street to the inn for their meals. The Annex was eventually demolished and the post office, formerly in the town hall, is now on the site where it stood.

The poll tax listing for 1920 shows only four men living at the Brae Burn. However, up to that year women couldn’t vote, so even if a few were living there, they wouldn’t be on the list. Women first appeared in that booklet in 1921. By 1922 three women were residing at the Brae Burn. While I’ve run across names of some couples who lived in boarding houses, for the most part the women who lived in them worked in them as cooks or maids. Of course, the wife of the proprietor would be living and working there, too. The 1922 list records Minnie Ludwig, 54, housewife, and George Ludwig, 57, hotel proprietor at the Brae Burn. They had been at the Park House the previous year.

The 1927 town directory shows that there were sixteen boarders at the Brae Burn. The proprietor was James Wallace. Nina Killam was a cook, and Nellie Dean worked and lived there also. While the Hopedale House still stands, as an apartment house now, the Brae Burn was the last place in Hopedale to operate as a boarding house. It served that function until 1957.  The 1930 town directory lists Zeke’s future in-laws, Peter and Christina Carron as the proprietor and proprietress of the Brae Burn. They had lived in Milford before that time. When Hilda and Zeke were married in 1949, they resided at the inn for a while, moving across the street in 1952. Peter retired and moved in with Hilda and Zeke in 1954.

In 1956, nine men were listed as living at the Brae Burn. Five of them were retired and ranged in age from 72 to 86. In 1957, the last year it was operating, eight of them were still there.   In December 1957, when the Brae Burn was about to be demolished, the Milford News printed a picture of it with the following caption: “Hopedale’s Brae Burn Inn pictured in its heyday. Built in 1856 by Ebenezer D. Draper, this Hopedale landmark is headed for oblivion. The 13-bedroom structure, being razed by John F. Curran of Milford, fell into disuse the past few months. Located at Adin and Hopedale streets, the mansion has a history linking it with the textile industry in this area.”

A Milford News article printed at about the same time, states that Draper left Hopedale after the death of his wife in 1870, and the home was bought by Deacon Asa A. Westcott in 1873. An 1898 map shows that at that time it belonged to A.A. Westcott. After Westcott died, it was purchased by the Draper Corporation, and Mr. and Mrs. Dana Osgood lived there. It was after they left, I presume, when they built their home on Greene Street, which was later known as the Harel House, that the Brae Burn became an inn.  

 An ad in the 1918 Milford-Hopedale Directory announces the following:

                 Hopedale House
                 Wm. H. Cox, manager
                 Permanent and transient
                 Nicely furnished rooms with steam heat
                 Public telephone pay station
                 37 – 41 Dutcher

The Hopedale House was the largest of the Draper boarding houses. It was built during the last quarter of the nineteenth century, and a major renovation project was carried out in 1899. It housed thirty-nine boarders in 1920, according to the town directory for that year, but by 1929 there were just twelve. (Again, men only being listed in 1920 – six women were there in 1922) I don’t know if it was the Depression, or other factors were involved, but by 1930, there were only two names followed by “Hopedale House” – C. Fred Steele, 69 and John Noyes, 62. Both men were retired. The 1927 directory names William Cox as the manager and James Forsythe as the chef.

By 1935, things were changing as far as housing was concerned. A news article printed in that year reads as follows:

                       New Apartments for Draper Corp.

The Draper Corp., appreciating the shortage of houses and the demand for smaller apartments, has decided to build a type of apartment entirely new to this section.

From plans and specifications drawn up by C.R. Whitcher of Manchester, N.H., the corporation has awarded a contract to the Lowell-Whipple Co. of Worcester, to rebuild the Bancroft Homestead at 46 Hopedale Street into two modern apartments, and to rebuild the four-story building formerly known as the Hopedale House, on Dutcher Street, Hopedale, into 34 three and four-room apartments.

These apartments are to have bedrooms, a large living room, a kitchenette equipped with a gas range and an electric or gas refrigerator, and modern bathroom. All the apartments are to be heated from the Central Heating plant of the Draper Corp., which system will also supply hot water.

The structure is to be entirely rebuilt on the outside as well as the inside, fire-proof walls are to separate the various sections, the grounds are to be improved and regraded, to make it the most attractive property of its kind in this section.

These apartments will be awarded to some of the older tenants and men holding important positions in the corporation. Milford Daily News, October 8, 1935.

The Park House, built in 1887, was an impressive looking place, but so far, about all I’ve found out about it is that seventeen men were living there in 1920, but none by 1927.It must have had room for many more than seventeen, and probably was filled in some years. Zeke Hammond recalls that the Unitarian Church would hold rummage sales there.

I didn’t know about the house on the northeast corner of Freedom and Hopedale streets until “Tootsie Deletti mentioned it to me a while ago. She remembers that it was operated by Anna Alger. Anna’s husband was a fireman. The Algers lived on the first floor, there were about four to six boarders living on the second floor, and an English couple and their two daughters on the third floor. The house was rented from the Draper Corporation. During a storm with high winds, the house shook so much that the Algers reported the problem to someone at Drapers. When the house was inspected, it was discovered that the frame had been assembled with pegs and they felt that it was unsafe. All the residents had to move (the Algers went to Mill Street) and the building was taken down.

Firemen often lived at the fire station during the years when others resided in boarding houses. In 1920, J. Creamer, M. Doxie, Fred Lee and A. Reynolds lived at the Hose House. That would have been the long-gone station on Hopedale Street, across from Adin Ballou Park. The Dutcher Street station was built in 1916, and in 1930 John Allen, Paul Cox, Alfred Lamb, Fred Lee, Harold Ward and Charles Watson recorded it as their place of residence.

One other place that caught my attention as I was looking through the poll tax lists and town directories for the early twentieth century was a place called the Old Nurses’ Home. In 1922, the residents there were Austin McLachlan, 23, truck driver, Sarah McLachlan, 24, housewife, Forrest Ingalls, 37, gardener, and Ruth Ingalls, 37, housewife.

               Now and Then pictures of:
                                  The Hopedale House  
                                  The Brae Burn Inn  
                                  The Park House  

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The list above is from the Hopedale directory of 1907 – 8. It seems that back then, just about anyone who had a room to spare would take in a boarder or two. I’d say that the Hopedale House is the only place on the list that could be considered an actual boarding house. Considering the addresses, the rest of them were likely homes where they took in one or two boarders. I’d also say that there must have been many more houses in town where there were boarders. This list may be only showing those who chose to have their names on it.

In back of the Harrison Block there used to be a restaurant called Butterfield’s.  There were two bowling alleys there.  Mr. and Mrs. Peter Carron (my in-laws) owned it.  When Mr. Cox, who owned the Brae Burn Inn (where the parking lot across from the post office is now) left, the Carrons took it over.  That was 1926.  They ran it until 1950.  The Brae Burn Annex used to be where the post office is now.  Robert “Zeke” Hammond   

Timeline by John Butcher.

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