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 Draper Corporation originally made doors, window sashes and blinds and ran a printing office, but they discovered early on that their most profitable business was making textile machinery.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.
Eben Sumner Draper
Governor Draper Mansion // 1905
Adjacent to the Warren House (last post) on Beacon Street in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood, this massive mansion is one of my favorites on the street. Built in 1905, and designed by architect Alexander Wadsworth Longfellow, Jr. an amazing local architect, and nephew of poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The grand mansion was the home of Eben Sumner Draper and his wife, Nancy. Eben Draper was a manufacturer of cotton machinery in the Draper Corporation, founded by his father in Hopedale, MA. Draper graduated from MIT and entered his fathers business, which upon the time of his graduation, was the largest plant for manufacturing cotton machinery in the world. In 1905, Draper was nominated and elected as Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts, the same year he had this mansion constructed. In 1908, Draper was elected Governor, and served two terms under the Republican Party, pushing a pro-business, and anti-reform agenda, a bill legalizing the merger of the Boston and Maine Railroad with the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad, signaling approval of what was seen as monopolistic business practices, something the Draper Corporation was known for in Hopedale. The former single-family home was converted to six condominium units in 2000. Fun fact: the Draper Mansion replaced the 1860 home David Stewart, a merchant from New York, built as a wedding present for his daughter, Isabella Stewart, and John (Jack) Lowell Gardner. Isabella would later create the beloved and iconic Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. The couple purchased the adjacent townhome in 1880 to store their growing art collection.