Hopedale History
    July 1, 2010
    No. 159
    The Hopedale Parish

    Hopedale in June   

    Pictures of the Memorial (Gen. Draper) Library at Hopedale High School   

    Draper war work – the howitzers. Nine pages from Cotton Chats.

    The Ski Hill (photos from the Milford News, 1967 and 1968)

    Hopedale High National Honor Society, 1966   

    G&U photos taken in Grafton, Milford and Hopedale.

    Hopedale Pond Running Low – Milford News article, June 24.      Dam owner: Lack of rain to blame for low
    water level  Milford News article,  June 27      Pictures of the pond for the last few months.   


    As I was checking The Hopedale Parish for the final time, I noticed a connection with the Milford News
    articles linked to above. In the fourth paragraph there’s a mention of water rights being handed over to the
    Draper brothers. The right to control the water level in Hopedale Pond, obtained by the Drapers in 1856,
    has come down to the present owner of the former Draper property.

                                                   The Hopedale Parish

                                                         By Peter Hackett

    This is to sing Happy Birthday and hearty congratulations to the members and friends of Hopedale’s
    Unitarian Church who will be celebrating the 100th anniversary of their church, Sunday, Oct 29. [1967] The
    actual anniversary date is Oct. 27. It was then in 1867 when the church was founded. In the interest of
    historical accuracy the anniversary commemorates the founding, not of the Unitarian Church, as such, but
    rather of The Hopedale Parish, the history of which we shall now review.

    The Hopedale Parish is historically connected with the Hopedale Community which was founded in 1840
    by that great man of Hopedale and Milford history, Rev. Adin Ballou.

    It is an integral and interesting part of the Hopedale story which, historically, begins with the Hopedale
    Community. The Constitution which Ballou drafted for the Community was signed by thirty-two members,
    some of whom, it is interesting to note, were also founders of The Hopedale Parish.

    The Community was a notable venture in social reform based on Ballou’s concept of what he termed
    Practical Christianity. Like other similar Communities scattered around the country at that time, such as
    Alcott’s Fruitlands at Harvard and the Brook Farm at Roxbury, it was too idealistic and impractical. Its
    economy depended on agriculture and a number of small industrial enterprises that Ballou admitted were
    poorly organized and inefficiently managed, resulting finally in the bankruptcy of the Community in 1856.
    The bankruptcy was precipitated when the Draper brothers, Ebenezer and George, withdrew from the
    Community. They were its largest stockholders and had been underwriting its losses for a number of years.

    Following the crisis of 1856, the Community’s assets – real estate, water rights, shops and dwelling
    houses were turned over to the Draper brothers. By agreement the Community was allowed control of the
    church and the Village Cemetery and for a number of years continued mostly in name only as a kind of
    religious society. The church referred to was the chapel that stood on the banking near the north end of the
    Draper main office. The cross street at that point, Chapel Street, takes its name from the chapel, as does
    the [long gone] nearby school.

    Built in 1843, the Chapel was used by the Community for religious services till 1860. It was also used as a
    school and for meetings. After 1860 it was converted into tenements by Draper and used as such till 1955
    when it was razed. A simple little building, yet one of the most historic in Hopedale, it should be
    remembered by placing a plaque on or near the site.

    Prior to 1856 the village of Hopedale belonged to the Community. Only members could live there. After that
    date the Community lost control of the village to the Drapers, resulting in families from the surrounding
    towns moving into the village. The little chapel which had served so well for so many years was no longer
    adequate, so a new church was built in 1860 on the site of the present Unitarian Church and was named
    the Practical Christian Church of Hopedale.

    By the time the church was built the character of the village had changed considerably. Many of the
    Community members left the village after the 1856 crisis. On the other hand many families from the towns
    around were moving into the village. These were not members of the Community and as such, soon
    outnumbered those who were. As a matter of custom, many of them attended the church ( the only church
    in the village) but they had no say, or rights, as to the management of the church – it still being the
    Community church.

    This together with the fact that they were asked annually to contribute to the financial support of the church
    seemed unfair, and was eventually recognized as such. Born out of this confused, and we may say,
    unhappy state of affairs there came like a breath of nice fresh, cool, October air, the organization of a new
    religious society which styled itself The Hopedale Parish. The date was Oct. 27, 1867. Note the name the
    new society gave itself – The Hopedale Parish. Three months after its organization, it became a member
    of  “The Worcester Conference of Congregational (Unitarian) and Other Christian Societies.”

    The first minister of the new organization was Adin Ballou, that great man of high esteem and sacred
    memory, in Hopedale and Milford where he labored so long and to such good purpose.

    The Hopedale Community recognizing that its end had come immediately transferred its allegiance to the
    Hopedale Parish. Later it did so formally, at its annually meeting, Jan. 8, 1868. This was the last act of the
    Hopedale Community in regular meeting assembled.

    Six years later the Real Estate Trustees of the Community transferred all its rights and titles to the Trustees
    of The Hopedale Parish. Still two years later, Dec. 7, 1875, there passed into the hands of The Hopedale
    Parish the balance of the so-called Soward Fund. Included in the transfers was the Community’s Practical
    Christian Church edifice which was used until 1898 when the present church was built. Milford Daily News.

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Original school and chapel of the Hopedale Community.

First Unitarian Church in Hopedale.

Unitarian Church, built in 1898