Hopedale is on the southeastern edge of Worcester County and occupies the valley of the upper Mill River. According to the United States Census Bureau, just over 6,200 people now occupy these 5 square miles. It is a 26 mile drive to Worcester, a 42 mile drive to Boston, and a 30 mile drive to Providence, Rhode Island. Benjamin Albee set up a grist mill on the Mill River to grind settlers' corn in 1669 in the first recorded settlement. Until the mid-19th century, the town followed the pattern of many communities with a combination of agriculture and small industry. Eventually, the Draper family took over the property and became highly successful textile machine manufacturers.
The Draper family's secular, paternalistic industrial complex was highly successful, resulting in an integrated, planned community with innovative 19th and early 20th century employee housing, a central institutional complex and proprietors' estates, all of which remain essentially intact.
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