Until I took an interest in Hopedale history a few years ago, I had never heard of the Water Cure House. Since
    that time however, I’ve run across three people who lived there in three different decades and knew it by that
    name. Those of you who live in Hopedale will have noticed that flowers in hanging baskets are placed on the
    Draper shop at Hopedale Street several times a year. That’s done by a woman who lives in the house at the
    corner of Hopedale and Union streets, (across Union from Simoneau’s Barber Shop) on the site where the
    Water Cure House once stood. Here’s an article by Nappy Scribner about Butler Wilmarth, the water cure
    doctor of Hopedale.

                                        Apartment Building in Hopedale
                                         Once Was “Water Cure House”

                                                     By Napier Scribner

           HOPEDALE – In 1850 Hopedale had an infirmary known as the “Water Cure House.” It still stands at
    Hopedale and Union streets but now it’s an apartment house.

           This method of treating diseases by the free and judicious use of pure water accompanied by a greatly
    diminished use of drugs and medicines known as hydropathy had quite a few adherents a century ago. Dr.
    Butler Wilmarth, a practitioner, quite incredulous at first at the new system, looked carefully into it after
    witnessing the cure of a four-year old son of William H. Fish who had been stricken with scarlet fever. He was
    then converted to hydropathy. (Fish later wrote a book about Wilmarth.)

           Convinced of the efficiency of water as a remedial agent, he started the infirmary for the accommodation
    and treatment of patients, however affected, according to the principles and requirements of the hydropathic
    system. The Community was sympathetic and voted in April 1850 “to appropriate $600 to establish the Water
    Cure Infirmary provided joint stock can be obtained for the 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 for the purpose during the
    ensuing summer. It was opened in September 1850.

           An advertisement at the time said, “This establishment is situated in the pleasant and peaceful village of
    Hopedale 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 patients to extra
    charges. Patients will furnish the usual articles for treatment.”

           The institution was a financial failure. After it had been open a few months it was deemed expedient to
    close it and restore the building to its original use. The Draper industry here owned the building for many
    years until it was sold a few years ago to Francis Larkin of Milford.

           Wilmarth subsequently received a flattering offer to take charge of a similar establishment at New
    Graefenburg, N.Y., which had already acquired a good reputation with the general public. He moved his family
    there in the spring of 1851, much to the regret of the people of Hopedale, who held Wilmarth in sincere
    esteem as a truly Christian man and a physician of high degree.

           The two-story house has been known ever since 1850 as “The Water Cure House,” and this name rings
    a bell with many of the older residents. The younger people, however, treat mention of it as a joke. It was not
    intended as such, but was a serious movement on the part of Wilmarth. The Worcester Telegram. No date on
    clipping – probably 1967.

    The Wilmarths and the Water Cure House   including a picture of Butler Wilmarth and pictures of the house.

                                                                            Ezine Menu                      HOME    


    The Water Cure House is in the center of this picture. The road going
    across the photo is Hopedale Street. The houses in the foreground were
    later moved and the section of the Draper shop that''s there now was built.
    The section of the street at the lower right, Union Street, was also built over.