The Little Red Shop
Proposal to Rockwell International
From the Hopedale Bicentennial Commission
The “Little Red Shop” is an important historical landmark in the Town of Hopedale. It is very much a
part of the heritage on which the far-flung reputation of the community rests, a link between the
Utopian experiment led by Adin Ballou and the significant contributions to the textile industry.
In view of the upcoming national bicentennial celebration, it would seem especially appropriate for the
Town of Hopedale to assume responsibility for the preservation and exhibition of the Shop. The
community has always been an outstanding contributor to the historical development of New England
and it is important that it continue this tradition.
The Hopedale Bicentennial Commission, with the support of the Selectmen, propose to undertake
any necessary renovations to the “Little Red Shop” and to maintain the building in a suitable manner.
We propose further to open the Shop for exhibition between the months of April and November on a
regular schedule and by special appointment.
With these firm commitments in mind, the Commission respectfully requests that Rockwell
International consider making a gift of the “Little Red Shop,” together with the land on which it stands,
to the Town of Hopedale
Across Freedom Street from the Rockwell International plant, alongside the quiet millpond, sits “The
Little Red Shop” as it is affectionately called. It was in this building, built by Ebenezer D. Draper in the
1840s, that the Draper building was begun in Hopedale. The Red Shop was originally one story and
one-half in the main part with a two story ell on the lower ground to the south. Power for the machines
was supplied by a waterwheel which was located in the lower floor of the ell.
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 enlarged.
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 the
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 millpond.
“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, though 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 room that serves as 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. (Unfortunately, the ledgers and
accounts have disappeared.)
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 handloom was set up and reproduced
by an artist. This scene has been as much of a trademark of Draper Corporation as the famous
“In Days Gone By” has been brought to life again the “Little Red Shop.”
The old handloom was used by the family of Jonathan M. Keyes of West Boylston, Massachusetts.
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 original picture. (Someone else
must have taken liberties, also. The clock referred to is not at the shop.)
The “Little Red Shop” has an assessed valuation of $5,590.00 and the land on which it is situated –
some 0.315 acres is valued at $1,750.00. Rockwell paid $487.38 in taxes for the buildings and land
last year. Regular grounds maintenance, heat, and periodic major maintenance is required. Because
of the age and condition of the building, the only practical use is as a museum.
The Town of Hopedale, acting through its Bicentennial Commission, requests that the “Little Red
Shop building and land be donated to the Town. Such a gift would 1.) Accomplish an annual savings
to Rockwell of approximately $487.38; 2.) A tax benefit in 1975 to be determined by Rockwell’s tax
attorneys; 3.) Community good will; and 4.) The active operation of the museum for the benefit of
visitors to the company and the general public as a major New England museum for the textile
machinery industry – specifically Draper products.
The Bicentennial Commission plans to undertake painting and repairs, install a small ten car parking
area for off-street parking in front of the “Little Red Shop” and arrange for the Hopedale Park
Department and Highway Department to provide regular grounds maintenance. (Note: 50% matching
grants are available up to $15,000.) Once the renovation project is complete, the operation of the
museum will be the administrative responsibility of the Hopedale Historical Commission – a seven
member town board appointed by the Selectmen in accordance with Chapter 40, Sec. 8D M.G.L.
The Historical Commission plans to operate the museum for visits by the general public, school,
church and civic groups, visiting business executives and others during the months of April through
November and by appointment at other times. It is expected that many tourists visiting Massachusetts
during 1975 and 1976 in conjunction with the American Bicentennial would visit the museum, and it
would be listed in various state bicentennial documents and tourist guides.
The Commission will utilize the services of volunteers and college summer interns as guides and
caretakers and will seek a modes maintenance budget for the building as part of their annual
allocation fro Town funds. In addition, part-time custodial help will also be employed. Whenever
possible, personnel will be employed through federal manpower programs to minimize local costs.
Howard C. Weaver, Chairman
Hopedale Bicentennial Commission
Richard T. Moore,
Board of Selectmen
Moving the Shop Red Shop Renovation Menu HOME
Painting by Ray Andreotti