The Little Red Shop
Cotton Chats - April 1952
the large bustling Main Office and his long trip through the many Departments of the
Shop with their floors of humming machine tools and busy workers. He hears about
the branch plants, sales offices, warehouses, and timberlands in many different states
and countries that supplement these facilities in Hopedale. He seldom looks back and
considers the birthplace of this great textile machinery company - the largest
manufacturer of automatic looms in the world.
Across Freedom Street from the Main Plant, alongside the quiet mill pond, sits "The
Little Red Shop" as it is affectionately called. It was in this building, built by Ebenezer
D. Draper in 1841, that the Draper business was begun in Hopedale. The Red Shop
was originally one story and one-half in the main part with a two-story ell on lower
ground to the south. Power for the machines was supplied by a water wheel which
was located in the lower floor of the ell. The sketch [above] shows another section of
the shop on the eastern side of the main building, but to date no further description or
mention of it has been found. The sketch was made about 1854.
By 1865 the Red Shop had had two additions which completed the building as it now
stands. It is believed that one of the sections was the old Mechanics building which
was the first shop to be built in 1843 by the Hopedale Community - a Utopia-like social
experiment that failed.
Sometime later the three-section shop, minus the ell, was moved to the west side of
the river to allow the Hopedale Machine Company, another Draper business, to be
In 1901, after considerable enlargement of the Draper shops, an overhead runway
was built from the main plant to the Red Shop, which then became a part of the new
Carpenter shop. Just before the three-story addition to the latter in 1903, the Red
Shop was moved across Freedom Street to a vacant lot on the west side of the Pond.
In 1951 it was moved again to its present location on the east side of the old mill pond.
Three Buildings Become One
In the museum, the northern section, containing the Counting Room and the
antique hand loom and spinning wheel, is the original Red Shop.
The rest of the building is composed of the two later additions, which date from the
years shortly after the building of the original Red Shop.
During the past year, the Red Shop, used as a storehouse for over half a century,
has been converted into a museum of our products. The Museum will be open to the
"The Little Red Shop" as it now stands is divided into three rooms: an old Counting
Room, an exhibition room showing the progress of loom construction in the United
States, from the basic hand loom, through the original Draper-Northrop "A" Model
loom - the first automatic loom in the world - to the most modern Draper High Speed X-
2 Cotton and XD Rayon looms, and a reproduction of the "Cotton Chats" masthead.
The Counting Room
The Counting Room is a reproduction of an early office about the year 1850. The
large executive's desk belonged to George Draper who moved to Hopedale in 1853.
The high accountant's desk and stool is from the collection of early American desks
gathered together by Doctor Alfred Cliff of Boston. Early ledgers and payroll
accounts of the Drapers are a necessary addition to the Counting Room and throw
interesting sidelights on business practices of the early days.
The "Trademark" Room
"Cotton Chats" began publication in 1901 and it was soon realized that a proper
masthead would have to be designed. In 1907 a scene showing an old Colonial hand
loom was set-up and reproduced by an artist. This scene has become as much of a
trademark of Draper Corporation as the famous "Diamond D."
"In Days gone By" has been brought to life again in the "Little Red Shop."
The old hand loom was used by the family of Jonathan M. Keyes of West Boylston,
Massachusetts in 1813. While it is a crude, hand-hewn machine, beautiful fabrics can
still be woven on it, in spite of the ancient reed, having bamboo strips for dents, and
the plain string heddles.
The old spinning wheel and chairs are authentic and, while the clock is of the proper
period, it is believed that the artist took some liberties with the one shown in the
A Black Cat
The black cat, sitting so peacefully watching the fire, has an interesting story behind
it. Many years ago in North Adams, the old Arnold Print Works experienced a period
of rather poor business and someone in the mill designed a black cat which was
printed on cloth. A housewife cut the pattern out, sewed the sides together, and
stuffed it. The fad spread like wildfire and thousands upon thousands of the cat
patterns were sold. In trying to locate an Arnold printed cat for the Museum, the
Editor of the North Adams Transcript wrote an editorial for us asking for information
and received several reports of Arnold printed and stuffed soldiers and "Felix the Cat"
replicas, the latter a somewhat later edition of our cat. As we go to press, a true
replica of the Arnold printed cat has not been found.
Among the exhibits are the famous Draper Spindles. George Draper was the leader
and driving force in the great development of ring spinning that proved it so superior
in cost of operation and quantity of production of cotton yarns that the mule spinning
frame was relegated to a very narrow field - that of spinning fine and soft yarns.
John Thorp invented ring spinning. George Draper made it practical and an
economical way of producing cotton yarn. Some of the spindles on exhibition are the
Sawyer spindle, the Rabbeth spindle, the Rabbeth Top spindle, and the modern
Draper spindle with the Stimpson Clutch.
Cotton and Rayon Looms
In the third room of the "Little Red Shop" one finds an exhibit of Cotton and Rayon
looms, from the early models to the latest Draper High-Speed looms.
A Kilburn and Lincoln common loom built about 1890 and typical of the half million
looms that have been replaced in this century by Drapers, is the first to be
encountered. Next comes the original automatic loom, the "A" Model developed by
James Northrop and other members of the Draper research staff in 1894. The "A" is
followed by an old workhorse, the Draper "E" Model, which was built in 1901 and
copied throughout the world. There are several hundred thousand of these looms still
in operation. How they have been modernized is shown by the next loom, the Rebuilt
"E" Last in the cotton line is the High-Speed X-2, the most efficient and productive
single shuttle cotton loom in the world.
The Atwood silk loom, dating back to 1875, is one of the first power looms built to
weave a fiber other than cotton or wool. It is followed by the Draper "K" Model, the
first loom adapted especially to weave the then new fiber, rayon. This loom was built
in 1918. Since many mill men believed that a shuttle-changing loom was necessary
for rayon and synthetics, Draper engineers designed the "C" Model, a shuttle
changer. The one on exhibition was built in 1932. The final model is the High-Speed
XD bobbin-changing loom, which has proven itself to be the finest rayon and synthetic
single-shuttle loom throughout the world.
The "Little Red Shop" is no longer an orphan to be moved about from place to
place. It is now the Draper Museum.
This issue of Cotton Chats was donated by Sally (Harlow) Harris. It is a wonderful
addition to the material on the Little Red Shop. It also leaves us with more questions.
The picture at the top doesn't look anything like the Shop we now know, except
possibly the part at the back that appears on the right. That looks like it could be
what we see in the picture of the shop that is two stories high. The article tells us that
"the three-section shop, minus the ell, was moved to the west side of the river..." In
the second paragraph we see, "The sketch shows another section of the shop on the
eastern side of the main building." This sentence seems to suggest that the part that
we can barely see is what we now know as The Little Red Shop. However, it also
refers to the two story part on the south as the ell. If the ell is the two story section in
the back and it wasn't moved.... and in 1903 the part that was moved was moved
again, to Lake Street this time....Hmmm.... That would seem to suggest that the part
that was moved was the part that makes up most of the picture at the top of this page,
but the pictures we have from around 1900 don't look like it, nor does the Shop we
know now. Take a look at this map and see if you think it clears up what we see in
Another article that further complicates the question of the origin of The Little Red
Shop is in the Community Affairs section of the Practical Christian (the Community
newspaper) on June 11, 1842. In it, Adin Ballou states, "We have...errected a new
building 32 by 14 feet, one and a half storiy above the basement; calculated for a
Printing Office, schoolroom, two upper sleeping rooms and two basement shop
rooms... The brethren have just completed building a dam and the foundation of a
Mechanics shop to be 30 by 40 feet, two stories high above the basement, designed
for various machines to be operated by water power." (Click here to go to the
complete article.) At one time I thought that the shop completed in 1843 must be The
Little Red Shop because it was referred to as the mechanic shop. However, with the
dimensions given here, neither the 1842 shop nor the 1843 building would seem to be
the one. The shop we have today is approximately 20 x 90. The length isn't a
problem. We knew that it had been lengthened long ago. The width, however,
doesn't match either building described . Here's a guess as to what may have
happened. The building at the front in the picture above was the one built in 1842.
Later the part at the back (which appears on the right in the picture at the top of this
page) was added. At some point the whole building became known as The Little Red
Shop but when it was moved to its second location only the addition went. The
original building may have been demolished at that time. The 1843 shop may have
become the first home of the Dutcher Temple Company.
The Cotton Chats article states that the runway (or walkway) was constructed in
1901. However, it can be seen in a number of photos taken earlier than that, including
one dated 1880 and two dated 1882 in John Garner's Model Company Town. (pp.
133, 134, 137)
On another matter, the year 1841 is given twice and 1843 is given once in the article
above. The writings of Adin Ballou indicate that the Community was being organized in
1841 but the first shop wasn't built until 1842.
While the second paragraph of the article states that the shop was built by
Ebenezer Draper, I feel it would be more accurate to say that it was built by the
Hopedale Community, of which Ebenezer was a very important member.
To start a series of photos of The Little Red Shop on its second, third and fourth
locations and speculation on the origin of the cupola, click here, or select them from
the Red Shop Menu. For pictures of the looms and views of the inside of the shop,
go to the Little Red Shop Interior Menu Click here to see pictures of the move of the
shop to the Hopedale Street site.