Nancy and Jim Verdolino

Little Red Shop’s Future Is Crystal Clear

HOPEDALE – Attendees at the third annual Crystal Ball got their first peek of the future Little Red Shop on Saturday night when an artist’s rendering was unveiled.

Some 134 guests attended the event in the Regency Ballroom of the Sheraton Hotel in Milford .

“We were happy to get it,” said Elaine Malloy, co-chairwoman of the event, adding that the picture’s timely arrival guaranteed she could finally say, “Yes, this is going to happen.”

For the first time, “We can see the light at the end of the tunnel,” said Malloy.

Friends of Historic Hopedale, the group overseeing the renovation project, have been raising money for a decade.

Construction is expected to start at the end of May, Malloy told guests.

Saturday night’s event was also the kickoff of the group’s capital campaign fund drive, through which sponsors can donate $25 to $5,000 to support the Red Shop’s conversion to a museum.

Hopedale resident Tom McGovern, who is heading up the capital campaign fund, said he’s already got the backing of radio station WMRC. The Milford-based station will help get the word out, said McGovern.

Many local businesses, small and large, have indicated their support, said Barry Feingold, CEO and president of the Milford area Chamber of Commerce and emcee of the Crystal Ball.

The “celebration of Hopedale’s historic past and future” included dinner, dancing and musical entertainment by the Fantasy Big Band.

“There’s such a good turnout,” said Merrily Sparling, chairwoman of the Hopedale Historic Commission, who said similar events were held in 2004 and 2005.

This year’s ball raised close to $7,000, said Theresa Ryan, the other co-chairwoman.

Ryan said this year everything seems to be in place to start the renovations. In their fund-raising efforts, the committee has received a $100,000 grant from the state, which the town has matched.

About $400,000 is needed, she said, adding that a little more than $300,000 has been raised.

Described by many attending as “The event of the year in Hopedale,” the emcee introduced several ball goers, including state Rep. Richard Moore and former state Rep. Marie Parente.

Known for her jokes and quips, Parente referred to her lost bid for re-election as “involuntary retirement.”

“The Little Red Shop is so much an essence of Hopedale,” said former Milford District Court Judge and Hopedale resident Francis Larkin, who attended the event with his wife, Virginia.

In keeping with the Crystal Ball theme, each table in the ballroom was covered in a white tablecloth and featured a vase with crystal sprays in the center.

Among the items being offered at the silent auction were a framed print of the Little Red Shop by Hopedale resident Ray Andreotti, a party basket for the Super Bowl, two tickets to Claflin Hill Symphony’s Spring Pops Concert scheduled for April 28 at Milford Town Hall, a framed print of the Union Evangelical Church, a Hopedale coverlet and a painted poster by Hopedale resident Laura Williams. Within the poster were different Hopedale icons.

For Susan and Jason Bloomberg, Uxbridge residents who bought a house in Hopedale and plan to move to town soon, the ball was a nice way to save an “important part of Hopedale’s past.”

“We’re strong supporters of the Little Red Shop,” said Al Gray. He and his wife, Maryellen, said the ball is all about “keeping the history of Hopedale alive.”

“I came just to support the Little Red Shop,” said Dan Howes of Hopedale.

Located in the town’s historic district, the Little Red Shop was the original machine shop where the Draper Corp. first manufactured parts for looms. The company later became the world’s largest manufacturer of cotton textile looms.

The Little Red Shop is one of the original Draper buildings and the oldest existing industrial building in town. It houses about a half dozen Draper looms, reminders of the New England textile region.

After the renovations are complete, the Friends of Historic Hopedale, currently a small committee of eight to 10 members, will continue to maintain the museum, said Ryan, alluding to operating expenses. So, a 2008 Crystal Ball will be held next year.

“We want to keep the momentum going,” Ryan said. Milford Daily News, February 5, 2007

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