The Adin Ballou Memorial Park: A Walking Tour of the Early Dale of Hope Community

Though Emerson's Brook Farm in Concord ( 1841-46) is more widely known, Adin Ballou's "utopian experiment" known as the Hopedale Community of Practical Christians (1841-1856) lasted longer and powerfully influenced Russia's Leo Tolstoi (1828-1910) and India's Ghandi as well as many others. Ballou's writings on non-violence, practical Christianity and socialism spanned over fifty years and adds an international significance to the community of Hopedale, well known for its former influential Draper Mills, makers of looms.

According to Michael True, Assumption professor and author of To Construct Peace, Adin Ballou (1803-1890) "is the major theorist of nonviolence before Tolstoi and Ghandi. Ballou's work  was known to both of them, and particularly important to Tolstoi."  Ballou was newspaper editor, preacher, journal keeper and constitution maker of this community which believed in equality of the sexes, equal voice and votes for women, non-violence and universal education for children.

Walking Tour:

In the beginning, the Jones Farm or "Old House", formerly located on Union Street in the rear of the Draper factory. 44 persons, all boarded as one family lived there.

Site 1: Adin Ballou Park, Peace Street, Hopedale - statue and site of original Ballou home. Statue unveiled October 27, 1900.

Site 2: The School/Meeting House was built in 1843 and was situated in the Community Square with one large room and two ante rooms. The basement was suitable for a small store and groceries and dry goods were stored there for the Community. The chapel was used for all gatherings, religious and secular, and used as a school on weekdays.

Site 3: The original Ballou home is still intact though moved to 64 Dutcher Street in 1900 when a porch was added. The el was used as the print shop where the Practical Christian was produced.  This home was built when the Ballous " were worn and weary" from their experiences in the Old House. Their only son, Adin Augustus, died with typhoid fever, while attending Bridgewater College in 1852.  Ballou resigned his presidency of the Community in 1852 shortly after his son's death. Ebenezer Draper assumed the presidency.

In 1854, Ballou published a summary of his practical Christianity tenets.

Site 4: The Shop at corner of Freedom and Hopedale Streets - The Red Shop. Fascinating history of looms inside.

The destiny of the Early Dale of Hope Community was forever altered when George Draper felt that his pursuit of success in business was hindered by the socialist approach. He urged his brother,Ebenezer, to also withdraw his stock in thecommunity. As of April1 , 1956, the Community ceased to exist as it had been known.

Site 5: The Cemetery - George Draper (1887) , Ebenezer Draper (1887) , Anna Thwing Draper (1870), Adin Ballou (1890), Frank Dutcher.

Site 6: Nelson Grove - Abolitionist Picnic Site - Previously an open field, the picnic grove used by the abolitionists, stretched from the Catholic Church parking lot down to theMill River at thebottom ofNelson Street.  At 155 Hopedale Street, this former Community House may have "housed" anonymous(URR) visitors. Along Hopedale Street are a few other early Community homes. Each year, the Dale of Hope's radical abolitionists used to celebrate the Emancipation of the 800,000 slaves from the Brotish West Indies.

Several famous abolitionists, such as William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglas and Henry Box Brown visited.Sojourner Truth lived  amongst Dale of Hope community.

June 9,1861 George Draper found irreconcilible differences were his beliefs because of approaching Civil War. About 50 members of Community now remained faithful to their ideals.

Site 7: Current Town Center, 65 Hopedale Street - former site of first Unitarian Church (1860-97) Adin Ballou preached here until 1880. In 188os, at the initiation of George Draper, Hopedale separated from Milford and became independent town in 1886. Town Hall was built 1887

Site 8: The Bancroft Library - repository of Adin Ballou's writings. By 1855, library located in school/chapel had over 600 volumes.  Also got 130 periodicals regularly and 60 papers. 1847, Joseph Bancroft joined community and in 1898, donated the present library tot he town in memory of his wife, Sylvia Thwing Bancroft. He handled housing for Draper millworkers.

 

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