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The Amazing Story of Hopedale MA
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Hopedale Town Hall and Diner , Hopedale MA
Hopedale Town Hall and Town Common Restaurant all in one building (photo by Eric)

The Town Common restaurant in Hopedale, Mass., has a very uncommon feature: it's located within the historic 1887-built Hopedale Town Hall building that features grand Romanesque brownstone architecture.

The restaurant's location suggests a dining spot that's about as "townie" as one could get. We see standalone townie restaurants in our downtown districts, at the strip malls, and as roadside shacks on remote streets. I can't recall ever seeing a restaurant located in a town hall.

It would be overly enthusiastic to say the Town Common restaurant is the best of its kind in the free universe. That would be easy to state as sometimes the unique character or presence of a restaurant makes the food seem to taste all that much better. What I can say about the Town Common restaurant is that's it's an excellent townie breakfast and sandwich place with the requisite combination of counter, tables, coffee brewing, and quick, efficient service. It's fine for a burger, club sandwich, pancakes, etc.

When at the Town Common, I was glad to see that tiny Hopedale supports local businesses like the Town Common restaurant. Police, fire, town hall personnel, local contractors, and stay-at-home moms packed the place and with good reason: Hopedale is a very close-knit community that has a very neighborly feel, businesses included. It has always been that way, and people often seem to genuinely enjoy the slower pace of a town stuck in time...

Hopedale River, Hopedale MA
Couple relaxing by the Hopedale River (photo by Eric)

Let me digress for a moment from the main story here...This beautiful small town was once a Utopian village in the 1840s, and then later evolved into an industrial giant with the birth of the former Draper Corporation (once the largest manufacturer of automated cotton looms in America). People lived and worked in this town and with Draper leading the way built a community with a disciplined, committed almost modified socialist political, social and economic platform for the benefit of the residents only. Everyone made some kind of contribution to the town. As the textile industry became more global, Draper, unfortunately, ceased production in the mid 1970s and the building has been vacant since.

Draper Building, Hopedale MA
Abandoned Draper Factory building; well-maintained, nevertheless (photo credit: (History of Hopedale web site)

The dynamics of the town are a bit different today, as Hopedale is, more or less, a bedroom suburb to Boston, Mass., Providence, R.I., and Worcester, Mass.  But to this day, Hopedale is not a typical suburb. Hopedale features incredible, one-after-another examples of stunning pre and post Industrial Revolution architecture in the form of old homes and municipal buildings. Churches, schools, municipal buildings (including a recreation center with a bowling alley!), community park and the town common are centered around the downtown -- the way things used to be like in New England. Along the way, you'll find street names that clearly reflect the town's vision during its industrial heyday: Social St., Freedom St., Hope St., and Progress St.

Additionally, Hopedale's history is wonderfully expressed in the Little Red Shop Museum, located at the corner of Hopedale and Freedom Sts., overlooking the Hopedale River. Open the first and third Thursdays of each month from 1-4 p.m., the Little Red Shop Museum pays homage to the Draper industry by featuring "looms, town and regional artifacts, photos, paintings, historical documents and other memorabilia." We recommend to call before visiting at 508-478-2926.

Bancroft Library, Hopedale MA
Bancroft Memorial Library (photo by Eric)

Red Shop in Hopedale MA

Little Red Shop Museum (photo credit: (History of Hopedale web site)

Church in Hopedale MA
Hopedale Unitarian Church (photo by Eric)

Hopedale is a place where I see more people taking walks than any other small town suburb I know in this area. Unlike many suburban towns, Hopedale's downtown district is located off any main roads, so the reduction of traffic lends additional peace and quiet to an already peaceful town. Additionally, the Hopedale River adds a real touch of scenic beauty with its clear river views, carriage trails reminiscent of Acadia National Park, Maine, and other waterfront paths. Often, you'll see people in their cars, on lawn chairs near the water, and strolling the area to enjoy the views and peacefulness -- it's a daily ritual for many locals. 

Hopedale River, Hopedale MA

Hopedale River in the fall, Hopedale MA

Hopedale River (photos by Eric)

While other communities seem to keep branching out with new neighborhoods and shopping centers, Hopedale, more or less, seems like an established community with relatively little change in modern history to its five square miles.

The few well-run businesses that currently operate in this gem of a small town are part of that neighborhood tradition. The Town Common restaurant makes it all that much better an experience for locals by doing everything right, on time, at a good value (lower prices than most townie restaurants), and with a location that just adds to the hometown flavor of this great, little town. Just be sure to walk off that meal so you can see the unique, historic appeal of Hopedale.

The Town Common is located at 76 Hopedale St. (508) 473-3004), close to everything that is Hopedale!

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