Draper Corporation Factory Complex // 1892-2021

In 1886, Hopedale, Massachusetts separated from Milford, almost entirely due to the young, and successful Draper Corporation growing in The Dale village of town. When George and Eben Draper succeeded in creating their own town of Hopedale, with their factory at the center, it gave the Draper brothers almost complete control over the development of a 3,547 -acre community. In the ensuing decades the factory village of Hopedale became a “model” company town. The Draper Corporation controlled every aspect of the town and worker life in a paternalistic program that extended beyond social structure to include architecture and urban planning of the village, with the company developing hundreds of homes for workers, a town hall, library, churches, schools, and recreational facilities, generating an entire town centered around the industrial giant. Draper Corporation originally made doors, window sashes and blinds and ran a printing office, but they discovered early on that their most profitable business was making textile machinery. By 1892, with the advent of the Northrop Loom, Draper became the largest producer of textile machinery in the country! Due to their success at the end of the 19th century, much of the complex was built and rebuilt in fire-proof brick factory buildings with large windows to allow light and air into the facilities. Draper’s dominant position within the textile machine manufacturing industry began to erode shortly after World War II, and the company began to sell its company houses to their occupants as private homes in 1956. During the 1960s American textile machinery makers such as Draper lost their technological leadership to foreign manufacturers due to cheap labor, and the general American textile industry collapsed. The plant eventually closed in 1980, and has sat vacant until the bulldozers came this year. The site is undergoing a full demolition, which is striping this town of its historic heart. It is truly sad to see.

10 thoughts on “Draper Corporation Factory Complex // 1892-2021

  1. Milhouse Van Houten July 5, 2021 / 2:14 pm

    The final end of an era. I still remember my time as a watchman. First it started falling over. Then it fell over.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Buildings of New England July 5, 2021 / 4:12 pm

      So sad to see this complex go.. It’s history is intertwined with that of Hopedale and its founding. Such a loss.


    • Diamond J. Quimby July 5, 2021 / 10:40 pm

      My great great grandfather, the silver-tongued patriot, Jedediah Springfield, once expressed that this cromulent town had such hope and Draper Factory Building, revived this community, and where a noble spirit embiggened them all.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Lyle Lanley July 6, 2021 / 8:37 pm

    There were, maybe still are, railroad tracks near the factory. Are those going to be part of the new plans going forward? A monorail to get people around a nice town center would be nice.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Buildings of New England July 6, 2021 / 9:19 pm

      Likely not sadly. If the town doesn’t have enough to require preservation of the complex, they wouldn’t have enough money to do a monorail and make it financially sustainable 😦


  3. Barry Duffman July 7, 2021 / 8:01 am

    Is there a plaque commemorating the building, or some sort of historic marker? In Shelbyville, they planted a lemon tree with a statue and bench. I know in Springfield, they had a small museum and sundial placed in the town center, made available to the public to learn about the building’s prior use. It seems a shame that this beautiful piece of town history is being demolished due to budgetary, environmental and political reasons. Is it being turned into a rail yard or doomed to be used tire lot or comic book store? I absolutely love this site, I recently discovered ‘Italianate’ is the name of descriptive architecture (not the aforementioned building, of course). I wonder how the owners of this page feel about the blog site ‘McMansion Hell’- it’s examples of houses that combine architectural styles. It’s quite funny. But, I’m a retiree, I enjoy this sort of thing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Buildings of New England July 7, 2021 / 8:10 pm

      I’m glad you like it! I am still learning the ropes in terms of website design so bear with me! As far as a plaque or some other marker in Hopedale, I am not sure what the plans for the town are. I surely hope they are going to install something since the complex basically helped found the town.


  4. Hollis Hurlbut July 7, 2021 / 9:54 pm

    I recently came to the site after searching online for this particular building. I was driving through town with my children and my children’s children following just a three month absence. Things have “progressed” so fast.

    It could be a case of Adin Ballou’itis talking, but it would be nice to see a portion of this building renovated as a historical society for the town. I would be happy to volunteer as I’m sure others would as well.

    Liked by 1 person

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