Spotlight on the Little Red Shop Museum Part of the Bi-State Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park
A small staff of volunteers, at the Little Red Shop Museum, has been quite busy with tasks related to the resumption of Museum operations since the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions in June 2021. The Museum has kept regular hours, open for visitors on the first and third Sundays of each month from 1 – 4 p.m. and every Wednesday evening from 6 – 8 p.m. During the colder months, the plan is to maintain the Museum’s established Sunday hours.
Due to the demolition of the Draper factory over the last year or so, there is an increased interest in Hopedale history, attracting numerous visitors from near and far. The availability of souvenir bricks at the Museum, from the Draper factory buildings, has helped to spur this increase. Many individuals have chosen to make donations to the Museum as they select bricks to take home as keepsakes or gifts for others. A special certificate accompanies the bricks. The donations go directly into the Little Red Shop Museum donation account, held in a Town ledger account and overseen by the Hopedale Historical Commission.
The Museum has resumed its participation in community events, having been present at the annual Hopedale Day in the Park on September 18th, and participated in the 10th annual Hopedale Downtown Winter Stroll on December 4th, co-sponsored by the Friends of Historic Hopedale and the Hopedale Community House. The Museum also hosted two Plein Air Painting events; the first during Day In The Park, and the second on November 10th by noted local artist Verne Thayer.
We have begun the process of replacing interpretive signage here in Town explaining the history of Hopedale from its inception as a utopian communal settlement based on principles of Christian Socialism, equality of all, shared ownership, pacifism, abolitionism, and temperance to its evolution as an industrial community with expansive employment and planned housing and services provided by the Draper Corporation. We are partnering with both the National Park Service and the Blackstone Heritage Corridor on this interpretive sign project.
As we gear up the operations inside the Museum, volunteers have curated a few revolving exhibits: artifacts from the Draper Corporation, early 20th century Draper Corporation Employee Field Days, Hopedale community life, and recognition of Hopedale veterans. In January, we plan to have a small exhibit about ice cutting on the Hopedale Pond, and in February plan to have a presentation and exhibit about the history of Valentines, especially as the history pertains to nearby Worcester, Massachusetts. We are also working on a children’s area at which we hope to have exhibits and activities of particular interest to young people.
If you are interested in the valuable work of educating the public and helping to connect our rich history to present day life in Hopedale, please visit the Museum or contact Sue Ciaramicoli, Volunteer Curator, at [email protected]
Authored by Sue Ciaramicoli, Volunteer Curator, December 2021