Hopedale (population 5,907) was founded in 1842 on 600 acres in the present downtown by Reverend Adin Ballou. It began as Fraternal Community Number One, an experiment in creating a utopian society based on Practical Christianity principles, part of the Transcendental Movement's belief in human perfectibility that swept New England. Ballou's 170 followers built 30 homes, workshops and a church to practice their new faith.
Two followers, George and Ebenezer Draper, later took over the property. By 1880, they had built a mini-empire on the banks of the Mill River that secured 400 patents for textile machinery, employed 800 workers, and garnered $1 million in annual sales.
Hopedale was incorporated as a town in 1886. Over the next three decades, Draper's prosperity and generosity fueled a building program that makes Hopedale a haven for some of the finest turn-of-the century architecture in the Bay State.
George Draper built Town Hall in 1887, and in 1899 Joseph Bancroft built the Gothic style library, with an oak cathedral ceiling, leaded glass windows, and a circulation desk that have been unchanged in 105 years. A successful campaign to have the library placed on the National Register for its centennial birthday served as a model for a wider effort.
After cataloguing more than 500 properties of historical and architectural distinction in the downtown area, tiny Hopedale's entire downtown was recognized as a National Register Historic District, one of the largest in the State. Future projects include the restoration and expansion of the 1914 firehouse.
Designated a Preserve America Community in June 2004.
For more information
Hopedale Historical Commission