Benjamin Helm Bristow Draper (1908-1957) was the grandson of Governor and Industrialist Eben Sumner Draper, who along with his brother, turned Hopedale, MA into the industrial village it is today. Benjamin purchased his uncle’s old mansion across the street from his cousin, who a decade earlier built the massive Tudor mansion featured previously. Benjamin razed his uncle’s old mansion and built this French Eclectic house in 1935 with a hipped roof, casement windows, and sleek design.
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 Draper Corporation originally made doors, window sashes and blinds and ran a printing office, but they discovered early on that their most profitable business was making textile machinery.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.
This house was built and first occupied by George G. Lougee, owner and proprietor of the Sea View House Hotel (demolished) across the street. Before building his own hotel, Lougee was a clerk at the Atlantic House, another summer resort. Lougee eventually worked his way up and ended up managing that hotel. Lougee’s success managing the Atlantic and later, the Farragut, enabled him to pursue his own enterprise and build his Sea View Hotel. When Lougee sold the Sea View hotel, he also sold this house with it. His former Stick style home was then converted to additional rooms at the hotel until it closed in the 20th century.
This stunning Georgian farmhouse in Acton, Massachusetts, was built around 1773 for Seth Brooks (1740-1831) and his wife Molly Conant Brooks, on land that had belonged to her father, William Conant of Concord (part of which was later annexed to Acton). Seth Brooks fought under Captain Isaac Davis on April 19th, 1775 at the Battle of Concord, who was among the first killed and was the first American officer to die in the Revolution. It was Brooks who ordered Davis’ body carried from the field after he fell, so he could be buried with honor. After the war, the family suffered an unfathomable tragedy. Seth and his wife, all their nine children, and all but one of their grandchildren died of the same type of tuberculosis, “slow consumption.” The family “curse” appears to have been broken by grandson Nathan Brooks, Jr., (1799-1881,) who inherited the property. According to local legend, a room beside the center chimney sheltered runaway slaves, as Nathan Brooks was an avid abolitionist. At the turn of the 20th century, the farm was purchased by Brookline timber merchant Benjamin Pope, owner of the Pope and Cottle Company of Boston. For many years, the Pope family used the house as a summer residence, with managers working the property as a dairy farm. It was Pope who named the farm “Stoneymeade,” and added greenhouses, an icehouse, and had an elaborate water system installed. Stoneymeade Farm continues to this day as an equestrian farm with boarding space for horses.
Arguably the most identifiable and iconic building in Acton is Exchange Hall, towering above the small village of South Acton. Exchange Hall was built in South Acton in 1860 to serve a variety of functions, primarily commercial. South Acton, with small milling operations and an ironworks established along Fort Pond Brook, had been a locus of
settlement since the earliest years of the 18th century. While the town’s village center evolved to the north, South Acton remained the site for industrial and economic development into the 19th century, spurred by the arrival of the Fitchburg Railroad from Boston in 1844. On the eve of the Civil War, South Acton supported a number of thriving
businesses, most under the aegis of three men: James Tuttle, his brother Varnum Tuttle, and Elnathan Jones Jr. The latter was the great-grandson of Samuel Jones, who established a successful tavern and store across the road from the site (a previous post). At the cost of $10,000, the three men financed the construction of Exchange Hall, designed to serve as the focus for the group of shops they ran together. The Italianate style Exchange Hall is 3 1/2-stories atop a raised foundation, with full length porches, stunning proportions, and a cupola at the roof.
Not far off Main Street in Acton Center, this stunning old Georgian home was built around 1740 for Jacob Hooker a tailor and later served as the home of James Dudley, a blacksmith in the village. After the American Revolution, Acton called on Reverend Moses Adams (1749-1819) to be the minister for the Acton Meetinghouse. The town acquired the old Dudley House for Reverend Adams to reside in with his family. In 1780, the home was enlarged, and possibly given the raised foundation we see today. Mrs. Adams ran a store out of the basement, accessed by the doorway in the brick foundation. After Adams’ death in 1819, the property went to the next reverend in town, until his death decades later. In 1889, a carpenter, Moses Taylor, purchased the home, restored much of the woodwork, and replaced the historic windows with 2-over-1 windows, popular at the time. Moses moved a house on Main Street to make way for the new Acton Memorial Library, and was active in building and renovating homes in Acton until his death.
This large Italianate house in Acton was built in 1873 for Henry Waldo Tuttle (1847-1916), who ran a grocery store business in town with his father, James Tuttle. The business did quite well as Henry built this massive home around his 26th birthday, likely around the time of his marriage. The exuberant Italianate home features a wide central gable and a projecting central entrance porch accessed by double entrance doors. The home has a detached stable to the left of the home too!
Acton, Massachusetts, was once part of Concord, the first inland colonial town established in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1635. 100 years later in 1735, land that we know today as Acton, separated from Concord to become their own town. Acton’s second Meetinghouse was located here in Acton Center, which was selected for its location more accessible to all houses and farms in the town. The Second Meetinghouse was built in 1806, and burned to the ground in 1862. Immediately after, a town committee was formed to construct a new town hall. Opening in 1863, Acton’s Town Hall stands as a stunning Italianate building with tripartite arched windows, corner quoins, a two-stage cupola with clock, and a bold (and historically appropriate) paint scheme. Acton’s Town Hall remains as one of the finest extant in the state.
Located adjacent to the Administration Building at the Tewksbury State Hospital, the Superintendent’s Residence, built in 1894, combines elements of the Craftsman and Colonial Revival styles wonderfully. The home is two-stories, and built of red brick laid in Flemish bond, capped with a slate hipped roof with exposed rafters. A massive uncovered porch wraps around the home and sits atop a rubblestone foundation. Like the adjacent Administration Building, the Superintendent’s Residence was also designed by Boston architect John A. Fox. From this residence, the massive almshouse and asylum would be run by the superintendent, who oversaw day to day activities and made sure everything was running smoothly. The house appears vacant now.
In 1832, William D. Meeker of Brookfield purchased a c.1780 gristmill on the banks of the Still River, which ran through the agricultural town. He immediately invested in it, rebuilding the structure upon the original foundations, but as a four-story building. Meeker must have hired engineers to create a system to transfer water power from the basement water wheel up four stories. The mill was later sold to a Gregory Knapp in town. Knapp died in 1868 and his properties (including the mill) went to his widow Angeline, who became a very wealthy, and eligible, bachelorette. She remarried not long after. Fast-forward to 1952, the grist mill was occupied by the Brookfield Craft Center, which is recognized as one of the finest professional schools for creative study in America, dedicated to teaching traditional and contemporary craft skills, and fostering the appreciation of fine craftsmanship. Gotta love adaptive reuse cases like this!