Draper Family

Picture of Ebenezer Draper
Picture of Ebenezer Draper
In 1841, the Reverend Adin Ballou founded a Practical Christian community in the town of Milford, Massachusetts. This community was named “Fraternal Community Number 1,” and it was founded on the ideas of Christian socialism. The commune had forty-four followers. Among these was a man named Ebenezer Draper.

Draper ran a small machine shop that produced parts for weaving looms. Draper’s business became the main source of income for the community. When Ebenezer’s brother George joined him, they purchased the community in 1856. This began a new era in Hopedale. George was a successful businessman and inventor. He made the Draper Company the nation’s leading manufacturer of looms for the textile industry.
Picture of George Draper
Picture of George Draper
Disillusioned by his brother’s capitalist venture, Ebenezer sold his shares and moved to Boston. There Ebenezer would die in poverty. At that point the Hopedale Machine Company became the sole possession of George Draper and Sons.

The Draper family maintained complete control over the town for over one hundred years. They combined their great wealth with a strong social conscience. They provided jobs, built and maintained award-winning workers' houses, constructed public buildings, and regulated most aspects of public life.

At its height the Draper Corporation employed more than 4,000 workers. Things changed by the 1960s though. The textile industry was declining. This forced the Draper family to give up most of their properties. By 1978 the factory permanently closed.
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15 seconds

A short video of a Draper Loom in action weaving cloth.


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Last updated: July 17, 2021

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