The Amazing Story of Hopedale, Massachusetts
Historic Hopedale Town Hall and Town
by Eric Hurwitz. Page updated on 3/15/17. All photos by Eric.
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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
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, but I can't ever recall seeing a restaurant located in
Common restaurant is one of my local favorite places to eat -- an
excellent breakfast and lunch place with the pleasing, old-fashioned
combination of counter, tables,
coffee brewing, and quick, efficient diner-like service. It's a
terrific stop for comfort food meals like burgers,
club sandwiches and pancakes (that are as wide as the plate!), 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...
Couple relaxing by the Hopedale River.
HOPEDALE, ONCE AN IMPORTANT
INDUSTRIAL TOWN WITH MODIFIED SOCIALIST LIVING
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 under a disciplined, committed almost
modified socialist political, social and economic platform for the
benefit of the residents only. This modality can be traced back to Adin Ballou, a noted American pacifist, socialist and abolitionist, who partnered with the Practical Christians, and gave Hopedale its name in 1841. The community, then part of Milford, was based on Christian and socialist ideologies. Everyone made some kind of contribution to the town. Hopedale eventually became incorporated as its own town in 1886.
As the textile industry became more global through the years, Draper,
unfortunately, ceased production in the mid 1970s and the building has
been vacant since. The lack of business there presents an irony -- that
is, the empty building yields an eyesore in an otherwise beautiful
town, but the lack of commerce there keeps the town quiet and peaceful.
Abandoned Draper Factory
building; fairly well-maintained, nevertheless.
NOT YOUR TYPICAL 21ST CENTURY
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 like the aforementioned Town Hall, 1898
Bancroft Public Library, stately Hopedale Community House (includes a bowling alley!) and the 1898 Hopedale Unitarian Church. Along the way, you'll find street names that
clearly reflect the town's vision during its industrial and socialist heyday: Social
St., Freedom St., Hope St., and Progress St. In the truest New England tradition, churches, town hall, library, community center, park and public schools are all located within walking distance of each other.
The Hopedale Community House.
Additionally, Hopedale's history is wonderfully expressed in the
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.
Little Red Shop Museum.
Hopedale Unitarian Church.
Bancroft Memorial Library.
A GREAT WALKING TOWN, PLUS THE
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 and carriage trails at the
Hopedale Parklands with more than 200 acres often hugging the shore.
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.
View of the Hopedale River.
The trails are absolutely beautiful, accessible and with
rare in the suburbs...
Carriage trail at the Hopedale Parklands.
The water views are so pleasing, especially near the beginning
View of the Hopedale River from a carriage trail.
The fall brings another wonderful perspective at the Hopedale
Color in the trees wonderfully complement the scenic Hopedale
Nice place to take a seat in Hopedale.
A PEACEFUL TOWN THAT FEELS SHELTERED FROM THE WORLD
Side street in Hopedale leads to the river.
While other communities seem to keep branching out with new
neighborhoods and shopping centers, Hopedale seems wonderfully stuck in
time. Quaint and quiet with virtually no commuting traffic, the
historic village district feels sheltered from the world -- quite an
incredible feat given that densely populated Milford is virtually right
around the corner. Hopedale, more or less, seems like an established
community with relatively little change in modern history to its five
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!
historic North Easton, Massachusetts
old school at Oliva's Market in Milford, Mass.
Massachusetts travel! Read
Town Greens book -- Discover New England's first travel
town commons. Includes a chapter on the nearby Grafton, Worcester and
Sutton town commons!
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