December 31, 2021
Like the Draper plant itself, the history of the Draper Corporation was huge. The business started with the founding of the Hopedale Community in 1842, although the company would trace its roots back to Ira Draper’s patent for an improved and automatic loom temple in 1816. The Drapers were an inventive family, and through their inventions and those of others the company became a behemoth while the town, mostly under the family’s control, stayed a small almost quaint place to live.
Symbol of Progress is a photographic homage to a company and a workforce that made Hopedale one of the most important towns in Massachusetts and brought our small town world-wide attention. The information accompanying the images is gleaned from historical sources and the writings of the time – descriptions written today along with voices from newspapers and records of the time, telling the story of the Drapers and the town. As the last bricks of what was the Draper Corporation leave the roughly 50 acres formerly fronted at 25 Hopedale Street, we should remember the company and the workers who passed through those doors – the men and eventually women who helped an inventive and complex family create a company that literally changed the textile world.