Hopkinton’s business history has been dominated by a few memorable players, including the shoe industry in the past and technology giant EMC today. But over the past 300 years, many other large industries and small businesses have come and gone as the community grew and the needs of its consumers evolved. Here are snapshots of yesteryear’s business community.
As the number of Hopkinton citizens began to grow, many industries sprung up to furnish materials for their homes. One early one was an East Hopkinton sawmill owned by Col. James Mellon around 1750. The Perry sawmill, on Cold Spring Brook near Front Street, began operating in 1790 near what is known as Bloods Pond today; the Lee, Braim and Pond families would own the property in later years, until it was destroyed by the 1938 hurricane. An 1831 Hopkinton map also shows a “Smith’s mill” on East Main Street between Wilson Street and Frankland Road. The Wilson family owned a sawmill around 1830. Early Hopkinton resident Roger Price may have also owned a sawmill along Indian Brook or the Sudbury River. While most of these businesses crumbled into sawdust, today the Garner Brothers’ sawmill still thrives in Woodville.
The prized Milford granite vein created a thriving stonecutting business in both Milford and its neighbor to the north. According to the 1874 Gazetteer of Massachusetts records, quarries were operating here in the early 1800s. Hopkinton-mined granite was used to build the town’s new meetinghouse in 1829 and for St. John the Evangelist church in the 1870s. In 1905, Theodore Perry began operating a granite cutting shed off Hayden Rowe St. Around the same time, Latty’s quarry operated on Raftery Road, near where the gas storage tanks are today. And the Norcross Brothers, a large building contractor based in Worcester, extracted Milford granite from their quarry on Lumber Street.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, a lead pipe factory operated in the Lake Maspenock area. A brickyard once operated on South Mill Street near the property owned by the Braim family. In 1815, four Hopkinton entrepreneurs – Samuel Goddard, Russell Smith, Jesse Cheney and Abner Hardy -- created the Patent Shingle Mill Company to commercialize a new technology for making shingles. But no records exist about whether the company ever opened here.
Stonemason Frank A. Hanson lived on Hayden Rowe (near Sunnyside Gardens now) in the early 20th century and got sand for his business from the bathing area of Hopkinton State Park. Old residents told Hopkinton historian Gordon Hopper that Hanson moved to Walcott Street in the 1920s and set up a shop across the street from his home.
Established here in 1944, Weston Nurseries today is one of Hopkinton’s longest-running businesses, but in the late 1800s one go-to place for plants was the Hopkinton Springs greenhouse near Spring and Pond streets. Owned by the Temple family, it grew flowering plants along with cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes and radishes. On Curtis Road, not far from Weston Nurseries, Charles Irvine sold chrysanthemums, irises and geraniums to retailers. And during the late 1940s, “Bruno” Pulnik had a greenhouse at 213 Hayden Rowe Street, where he raised 120,000 carnations a year. Later he added snapdragons and chrysanthemums.
In the early 1900s, before refrigeration was widespread, local ice companies helped Hopkinton residents keep their food cool and safe. One bustling operation was the Service Ice Company, located on West Main Street at Ice House Pond (by today’s Golden Pond assisted living facility.) Old-timers interviewed by Hopkinton historian Gordon Hopper recall 400-pound blocks of ice being hauled from the frozen pond then cut into smaller blocks. Customers would place cards in their windows that told deliverymen how many blocks of ice they wanted. Local farmers also operated their own icehouses on Lumber, South and Pond streets. By Lake Whitehall, the Lerman family cut their own blocks of ice to refrigerate milk from their dairy cows. The Pond family owned an icehouse on Wood Street and the Rices owned one on Wood Street.
Hopkinton is fortunate to have its own weekly farmer’s market every summer on the Town Common. In the past, individual farmers served the needs of the town’s locavores from their own homes. Along Hayden Rowe Street, Honey Hill Farm sold eggs. The Colella family once sold produce from their Idlewood Farm on Hayden Rowe before they opened their supermarket at the corner of Main and Grove streets. The Lerman family sold dairy products from their Pond Street home.
The Downtown Merchants
Before Colella’s and Hopkinton Drug commanded the corners of Main and Grove streets, other businesses dominated those locations. In the late 1800s a building called Foresters Hall stood at the Colella’s site, providing a venue for public dances, minstrel shows and other kinds of entertainment. The Phipps family also operated a livery stable near that site. Across the street, a gas station operated by Frank Phipps stood on the site of Hopkinton Drug during the 1920s.
Other merchants once sold their wares along Hopkinton’s main thoroughfares. In the 19th century the A.A. Sweet dry goods store sold percale fabric for 10 cents a yard; patterns for 25 cents and blankets advertised as “25 per cent less than last year.” The Hopkinton National Bank and the Park House hotel dominated the Highland Block. A map of 1856 also shows Barber’s Store, Woodard Store, Thompson’s Boot Shop, Coburn & Claflin and the W.J. Bartlett Store along Main Street.