Hopedale property owners question impact of local historic districts
By Christopher Gavin Daily News Staff
Posted May 15, 2018 at 10:05 PM Updated May 15, 2018 at 10:05 PM
HOPEDALE – The owner of the vacant Draper Corp. factory on Hopedale Street and several other properties
being considered for local historic districts told a study committee Tuesday night that he supports historic
restoration but is strongly opposed to the inclusion of his properties, that are hard to preserve, in current
Philip Shwachman, principal of Hopedale Properties, LLC, and Hopedale Industrial Canter, LLC - which owns
a total of more than 55 acres of land across three proposed historic districts - said he has great working
relationships with town officials.
Since he purchased the vacant one-million-square-foot building nearly 30 years ago, he has poured millions
of dollars into cleaning up the site, from asbestos to contamination problems over the years, he said.
Hopedale is unique, he said, but the inclusion of the former factory and his other properties will hurt the ability
to sell and redevelop the sites that have sat unused for decades.
“It is a huge, huge overreach to include these buildings within this district and it’s a huge overreach to include
any vacant land anywhere in the town in any of these districts,” Shwachman told a standing-room-only crowd
in the Town Hall’s Draper Room.
“For the record, we oppose all of our properties, vacant land and buildings being included in any of these
districts, and should they be included, it is the final nail in the coffin of anything ever happening to those
buildings,” he added.
Shwachman’s remarks were among the questions and concerns the Local Historic District Study Committee
collected, fielded and worked to quell from residents and property owners wondering what forming potentially
eight districts could mean for their homes and properties.
Committee members emphasized that should special Town Meeting members vote next month to approve
any of the districts, regulations would primarily seek to preserve each building’s architecture as they are seen
from public ways.
“We, in our proposals, have chosen to be very liberal in what we’re proposing for oversight,” Chairwoman
Suzan Ciaramicoli said.
Building design elements such as paint and windows, nor changes within a building or to the back of a
structure, would be regulated, members said.
Ciaramicoli pointed to the reuse of the former Draper Corp. offices at 25 Hopedale St. as the Atria Draper
Place assisted living facility as a good example of what the districts strive to achieve.
The proposal spans eight districts: The Hopedale Center district; Bancroft Park district; Harmony Hall-Green
Store district; Little Red Shop district; Lake Point district; Seven Sisters district; Draper Corp. district; and the
Hopedale Pond and Parklands district.
Each will be proposed in a separate article at the June 19 special Town Meeting, committee members said.
“There is always going to be somebody that doesn’t agree with it and we understand that,” committee
member Walter Swift said. “It’s up to the town to make the final decision.”
A second public hearing is scheduled for June 12.
Residents Tuesday questioned how the districts could impact future economic growth on commercial
properties, property values and how the Local Historic District Commission – the group that would later
oversee any proposed changes to historic properties – would function.
Resident Michael Costanza said he understands the points of view of both concerned residents and the
committee, but wondered how the future commission would handle deciding whether changes to properties
fit the character of a district – which the group would be tasked with deciding.
“It’s just very tough for us to buy into it if you guys aren’t going to make the decisions and we don’t know who is
going to make the decisions,” Costanza said.
Ciaramicoli said the intent of the future commission would be to work with property owners on their proposed
“It isn’t the goal to say no,” she said. “The goal is to work with the property owner to make something that fits
in with the character of the area.”
Mary Feeney, an attorney representing Shwachman, said the commission could have authority that extends
beyond local zoning bylaws. The group could potentially end up regulating what’s built on vacant space
included in districts, she said.
“There’s no zoning bylaw, there’s no dimensional controls,” Feeney said. “You don’t know what you have to
build ... until you design it and the historical commission can turn you down. And you don’t have a lot of appeal
Schwachman thinks the town should form at least one historic district with town buildings to start with before
considering others, he said.
“Once the commission is established, once there are guidelines that people can read and see ... then I think
you can add other districts. I think to start off with 235 properties is a huge overreach.”
Christopher Gavin can be reached at 508 634-7582
Hopedale historic district committee to reconsider proposal
By Christopher Gavin Daily News Staff
Posted May 21, 2018 at 11:08 PM
HOPEDALE – Following mixed opinions from residents over the potential impact local historic districts could
have on their properties, Local Historic District Study Chairwoman Suzan Ciaramicoli believes the group will
reconsider its proposal, she told selectmen Monday.
Discussing the committee’s next steps in proposing the eight districts, selectmen said they support the group’
s work but articulated their own concerns that the districts, in some areas of town, could run against efforts to
grow Hopedale’s commercial tax base.
The committee, Ciaramicoli said, will be reviewing input Tuesday that it received from residents and property
owners at a public hearing last week.
“I anticipate there will be much discussion at tomorrow’s meeting and we will have to have one or two
followup meetings to fine tune the proposal,” she said.
On the proposal are eight local historic districts the committee says could put the town within the boundaries
of the new Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park.
Although selectmen noted Monday they originally asked the committee to consider public buildings at least for
the initial district, private properties were added to the group’s proposal based off public input it received
throughout the planning process, Ciaramicoli said.
But selectmen, echoing concerns raised at last week’s meeting, said they worry the regulations attached to
preserving local architecture could discourage development on commercial properties that fall within
Selectman Louis Arcudi III, who was elected chairman Monday, said he wants to make sure officials at least
maintain their original goal to get one district made up of public buildings on the map.
As for private properties, he wants to understand what impact a district could pose, he said.
“It’s just some of these other things, with zoning and potential commercial viability, just so we understand,
does that and how does that limit some of these buildings from future use?”
Selectman Brian Keyes is concerned certain districts could reverse the town’s efforts to bolster future
commercial and economic development, he said.
“My point was it lowers the number of suitors attracted to that commercial property ... I didn’t want that to
Philip Shwachman, who owns the former Draper Corp. factory, asked the committee last week to remove all of
his properties from the proposal.
Collectively, Shwachman owns more than 55 acres of land – most of which is vacant – being considered for
inclusion in some districts.
Shwachman, through his attorney, argued the proposal as is would give a Local Historic District Commission
control over what could be built on undeveloped land.
Regulations, such as preserving the architecture of buildings in each district, he said, would also hurt his
ability to sell and redevelop the former factory, which Shwachman has owned for almost 30 years.
Selectmen raised concerns that including the Draper Corp. factory in a district could mean preserving an
“I think there’s a lot more at least with that parcel of land that needs to be thought through,” Arcudi said. “We’re
not saying we don’t want it, I think we just want to have some additional time to think about that particular
piece of property.”
Ciaramicoli said districts do not prohibit demolition of properties, but instead maintain that new developments
keep with the general character of the historic buildings that preceded them.
The committee will discuss the inclusion of the Draper factory at its Tuesday meeting, she said.
“We will be discussing that public hearing and that was a big part of the discussion that evening ... we would
be irresponsible not to,” she said.
Hopedale committee amends historic district proposal
By Christopher Gavin Daily News Staff
Posted May 31, 2018 at 6:03 PM Updated May 31, 2018 at 6:03 PM
HOPEDALE - After facing backlash from the owner of the former Draper Corp. factory, the Local Historic
District Study Committee has removed the property from its historic district proposal. The switch is one of a
few changes made in light of feedback the group received from residents and selectmen.
A new proposal reduces the number of local historic districts from eight to six, making three of them each
contain a single structure and another three a composition of multiple buildings, committee members said
“We knew we had to reconsider based on the feedback from the hearing, so with that in mind we made some
changes,” committee Chairwoman Suzan Ciaramicoli said. “It’s a very involved process that we went through
and what you do is you reach for what you would like and you scale back based on what we think might be
more successful going through Town Meeting.”
Instead of including the massive vacant Draper Corp. factory, the committee opted to make the former Draper
Corp. headquarters - the building that’s now the Atria Draper Place assisted living facility, at 25 Hopedale St. -
a standalone district, according to a letter from Ciaramicoli to selectmen dated May 31.
The committee has also reduced the Harmony Hall-Green Store proposed district to contain solely the
Community Bible Chapel at 405 South Main St., committee member Beverly Carver said.
The Lake Point and Hopedale Pond and Parklands historic districts were removed, Ciaramicoli’s letter
Carver said the committee’s intent is to try to have as many districts approved for inclusion in the Blackstone
River Valley National Historic Park at the June 19 Special Town Meeting as possible.
The town could ultimately consider additional districts in the future after the initial ones are created.
“We don’t want to create a controversy,” Carver said. “We want this to be a positive impact on the town and its
Last month, Philip Shwachman, who owns more than 55 acres of land including the Draper factory that was
included in the original proposal, asked the committee to remove his properties from consideration, citing
concern local historic districts would hurt his ability to sell and redevelop the sites.
Selectmen also worried that the districts, in certain areas, would inhibit efforts to expand the town’s
commercial tax base.
Carver said the conversation surrounding the Draper Corp. factory cast a shadow over the proposed local
historic districts - an impact the committee sought to avoid.
“We need this to be a positive thing and sometimes you have to make adjustments accordingly,” Ciaramicoli
According to the new proposal, districts being presented for Town Meeting consideration include the
Hopedale Center, Seven Sisters and Bancroft Park districts.
Three districts that are single buildings are the Little Red Shop Museum, at 12 Hopedale St.; the Community
Bible Chapel; and Atria Draper Place.
The committee voted on the revised proposal on May 22.
A public hearing on the proposal is scheduled for 7 p.m. on June 13 in Hopedale Town Hall’s Draper Room.
Hopedale selectmen seek to further tweak proposal including Draper Building
By Christopher Gavin Daily News Staff
Posted at 9:55 AM June 7, 2018 Updated at 9:56 AM June 7, 2018
HOPEDALE - Selectmen favor an additional tweak to the town’s amended local historic district proposal to
remove two properties owned by Hopedale Properties LLC from a district considered for the Bancroft Park
The board supported removing properties at 80 Bancroft Park and 12 Rear Bancroft Park - both of which are
vacant - from a proposal this week upon concern that their inclusion could impact whether the area is
accepted by voters as a district, Chairman Lou Arcudi said Wednesday.
The proposal, with the two properties included, risks the possibility of being rejected at the June 19 Special
Town Meeting despite support from residents, Arcudi said.
Philip Shwachman, principal of Hopedale Properties LLC, asked town officials last month to remove all of his
properties from plans.
But of the 105 other properties included, Local Historic District Study Committee member Beverly Carver said
officials have received support from many residents.
The two properties owned by Hopedale Properties are in the proposal because if the sites were to change,
new development could alter the character of the neighborhood, which the local historic district seeks to
preserve, she said.
“The feedback out of Bancroft Park has been extremely positive,” she told selectmen Monday. “That’s why (the
area) was included.”
Arcudi said not removing the properties could mean the proposal, even with interest from other property
owners, could face potential opposition.
“If they don’t get enough votes, then everybody loses,” he said.
Selectmen will now opt to offer an addendum to the motion to create the district on the floor of Special Town
Meeting to ensure it will include all properties except the two owned by Shwachman, if voters approve the
“Personally, I would be inclined to modify them off the list because number one, they’re empty and two, if they
are zoned industrial ... I would not be inclined to have them included,” Selectman Brian Keyes said during
Monday’s board meeting.
The anticipated changes follow other amendments to the proposal made by the study committee late last
Those alterations changed the number of districts from eight to six and significantly reduced the size of the
proposed Draper Corp. local historic district by removing the massive, former Draper Corp. factory, in light of
objections by Shwachman, who also owns that property.
Last month, Shwachman said the inclusion of his properties in local historic districts would hurt his ability to
sell and develop them.
His attorney, Mary Feeney, expressed concern to the study committee that the proposed Local Historic District
Commission could potentially regulate what is built on vacant or undeveloped land if those kinds of sites
On Monday, Arcudi said the board may want to consider breaking the proposed Hopedale Center Local
Historic District into two Town Meeting proposals in order to avoid a potential issue similar to that
surrounding the Bancroft Park proposal.
The Hopedale Center district spans a mix of private and publicly owned properties.
Arcudi, who said Wednesday he needs more consensus from fellow selectmen on the idea, proposed
separating the district by public and private land.
“I just don’t want the whole motion to get knocked down when I do believe parts of this stuff in this downtown
area (we) actually ... need to make sure that’s in it,” he told the board Monday.
A public hearing led by the study committee on all proposals is set for 7 p.m. next Wednesday at Town Hall,
78 Hopedale St.
Hopedale historic districts proposed for Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park
By Christopher Gavin Daily News Staff
Posted Apr 1, 2018 at 12:01 PM Updated Apr 7, 2018 at 8:24 PM
HOPEDALE - After many hours spent in meetings since last June, the Hopedale Local Historic District Study
Committee put forth a proposal that could put the town’s signature properties, quite literally, on the map.
From the houses built for Draper Corporation employees to the factory where they worked, and from the town
buildings company executives built to Hopedale’s beloved parklands, each are among consideration for
inclusion in the Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park.
The proposal, which spans eight historic districts, comes as officials and residents decide whether the town
sites should be part of the boundaries of the park, established in 2014.
A Town Meeting vote on the plans is scheduled for May 22.
The designation aims to preserve the architecture of each one, particularly as the town juggles the balance
between saving its past for posterity and the need for new, commercial development.
Hopedale: Preserving history through words
January 10, 2018
Hopedale board offers input on historic district
November 7, 2017
NATURE (HUMAN AND OTHERWISE): Celebrating a century of our National Parks
August 30, 2016
Saving Hopedale’s character and uniqueness is at the core of the proposal, which regulates only building
exteriors, but not specific details, according to Suzan Ciaramicoli, committee chairwoman.
“We are not stipulating paint color or materials or things like that,” she said in a recent interview. “The primary
goal is to preserve the architecture of the building as they are seen from a public way. And that is really
Upcoming meetings, tours
April 7: Two walking tours are scheduled, including one through the three proposed worker-housing districts -
the Bancroft Park Local Historic District, the Lake Point Local Historic District and the Seven Sisters Local
Historic District - at 1 p.m. A rain date is scheduled for April 8 at 1 p.m. with both tours kicking off from the
corner of Progress and Freedom streets.
April 23: The Hopedale Local Historic District Study Committee will host an informational meeting about its
proposa,l in Harmony Hall-Green Store at 405 South Main St. Two sessions will be held: one at 5 p.m. and
another at 6:30 p.m.
April 29: A walking tour of the proposed Hopedale Center Local Historic District, beginning in front of the
Bancroft Memorial Library, takes place at 1 p.m. The rain date is May 6 at 1 p.m.
The 27-page proposal extensively outlines the eight districts; seven of which span 227 properties, including a
cemetery, and 126 structures.
The eighth district, known as the Draper Corporation Local Historic District, makes up eight properties across
what officials believe to be at least four structures, since some buildings on the company’s sprawling, former
site were knocked down.
The Little Red Shop Local Historic District would encompass the modern-day museum inside the oldest
remaining industrial structure in Hopedale - built in 1842 - that now sits at the corner of Freedom and
“The Little Red Shop is seen by many as the center of historical Hopedale, a meeting place for talks,
Historical Commission meetings, community events, and a place to gather information and view artifacts on
Hopedale and the Blackstone River Valley,” the proposal said. “Now a regional museum, the (shop) displays
some of the significant artifacts that are part of Hopedale’s history.”
The proposal also seeks to preserve housing created in the late-1800s and early-1900s for Draper
employees, particularly in three areas.
The residences are a shining example of the Drapers’ benevolence toward their employees that supplied
them with not only a strong quality of life, but also a sense of community, the proposal said.
The Seven Sisters Historic District covers 109 through 135 Freedom Street and the small duplex homes
found on each property built between 1874 and 1889.
Others include 20 acres of Bancroft Park - including Bancroft Park, Fitzgerald Drive, Cemetery and Union
streets, and the Hopedale Village Cemetery - and the Lake Point Historic District that spans Lake, Progress
and Soward streets, Progress Court and certain areas of Freedom Street, the proposal said.
“Most of the houses in the Lake Point Group, like those of Bancroft Park, were termed ‘first class’ dwellings by
the company, which implied they were largest in size and the highest grade of interior finishes.”
The committee, which will send the proposal to the Massachusetts Historical Commission for a review, also
included the remaining Draper Corporation buildings at 24 and 85 Freedom St. as well as several town
staples including Town Hall, the George Albert Draper Memorial Gymnasium, The Hopedale Unitarian
Parish/Draper Memorial Church, the Hopedale Town Parklands and other buildings in the town’s center.
The Harmony Hall-Green Store Historic District includes the modern day Community Bible Chapel at 405
South Main St. and other sites at 393 and 399 South Main St. and an unoccupied residence at 140 Hartford
“The historical significance of this building is not simply its age and industrial connections; Harmony Hall,
which is the name of the second floor space in the building, is the only place left in Hopedale where Adin
Ballou, considered to the be town’s founder, preached,” the proposal said.
“Ballou came to Harmony Hall on Sunday afternoons after completing his services at the Unitarian Church in
Hopedale center, and, according to a follower, ’fired his hearers with aspirations for ’grand objects and noble
The proposal comes amid a push by town officials in recent years to expand Hopedale’s commercial tax
base by rezoning residential areas for commercial use.
The initiative contributed to the demolition of some of the town’s oldest homes along Rte. 16 and further
growth elsewhere in town could put certain properties in the proposal at risk in the future, the proposal notes.
“Hopedale is ringed by Rte. 140 and bisected by Rte. 16, and has areas that are ripe for commercial and
industrial expansion and development. Local Historic Districts in these areas may not impact that future
growth, but will protect a unique town from losing some important structures and areas that make it the one
and only Hopedale, Massachusetts.”
The committee plans to host a public hearing on the proposal on May 15, before Town Meeting.
Hopedale approves one historic district of six proposed
By Christopher Gavin Daily News Staff
Posted Jun 20, 2018 at 8:46 PM
HOPEDALE - Citing worries over the inclusion of private property in local historic districts, Special Town
Meeting voters this week approved one district out of a proposed six total.
The town-owned Little Red Shop Museum on Hopedale Street will be the town’s first and only district in the
boundaries of the Blackstone River Valley National Historic Park, after voters overwhelmingly approved it
But other proposals faced criticism from most residents who spoke during the two-hour meeting, with voters
deciding to pass over voting on four of them, including the Hopedale Town Center, Seven Sisters, Draper
Corporation Headquarters and Bancroft Park districts.
The Harmony Hall-Green Store district, at 405 South Main St. (Rte. 140), was rejected after a standing vote
and amid concerns that the preservation of the building would limit the property’s potential to help grow local
“We just rezoned that commercial property, trying to bring money into the town,” resident Louis Costanza
said. “What if somebody wants to rip it down and put a business there? They have to check with you people?”
The proposals were presented by the Local Historic Study Committee to selectmen with changes made
within the last month to exclude the Draper Corp. factory upon a request to do so from its owner.
Committee Chairwoman Suzan Ciaramicoli reiterated Tuesday that the districts sought to preserve the
exterior architecture of buildings within each one, but would not regulate changes made inside them or
materials used for outside features.
Voters approved passing a bylaw to create a three- to seven-member Local Historic District Commission,
appointed by selectmen, that would review proposed changes to district properties.
“The goal of a local historic district is to preserve the building, in terms of its exterior architecture,” Ciaramicoli
While voters promptly backed the Little Red Shop Museum district, they passed over voting on the Draper
Corp. Headquarters - now home to the Atria-Draper Place assisted living facility at 25 Hopedale St. - at the
request of its owners, officials said.
Residents also decided to forgo a vote on the Hopedale Center District after owners of two buildings - the
privately owned Hopedale Community House and Draper Gym - asked that they be removed, according to
Selectman Brian Keyes.
Many voters questioned what impact the district could have on private residential properties in the Seven
Sisters and Bancroft Park districts, and some worried about voting for a measure that would impose
restrictions on someone else’s property.
Resident Bob Burns garnered applause from the crowd after he said the rules could mean higher insurance
rates for property owners and could affect property values.
“When you sell your house you’re subject to historical preservation rules as according to the committee,” he
Making a motion to pass over the two districts with residential properties, Board of Selectmen Chairman
Louis Arcudi III said the measure could give officials more time to hear from residents.
“I think it gives an opportunity to see how the district works and if things are going well ... if we want to add
other areas of town then we can do it at that point,” Town Administrator Steve Sette said Wednesday.