Lake Maspenock Dam History

Lake Maspenock Dam
Lake Maspenock Dam
In its original and natural state, Maspenock probably only had 30 to 40 acres of surface area. The fact that the surface area of Lake Maspenock is considerably greater than the natural pond is due to the construction of dams at it's southern tip.
In 1803, a man named Whitney purchased the land at the end of the pond from a man named David Stearns and erected a dam and mill. We know this because of a conflict between the mill owners downstream from the dam which was settled in 1846 by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. In Whitney v. Eames, 52 Mass. 517, 11 Met. 517. The plaintiff, Mr. Whitney, to prove his title and his right to run his mill, as against the claims of the defendant, Mr. Eames, introduced a deed of David Stearns, (who then owned the premises on which are the mills of the plaintiff and the defendant, and all the dams, ditches and flowing hereafter mentioned, dated August 24th 1803. The plaintiff, Mr. Whitney, then introduced evidence tending to prove that the defendant, Eames, erected his mill and dam across said stream, whereby since December 1845, the water was flowed back into the ditch and into the dug way mentioned in said deed of David Stearns and so high as to obstruct the plaintiff's mill wheel also tending to prove that Mr. Whitney's mill and dam were erected and put in operation in 1803.
Lake Maspenock Dam
The Maspenock Dam first built in 1833 and rebuilt 1901
In 1833, seven mill owners came together to construct higher dam 150 feet south of the existing dam, to create a bigger reservoir in order to preserve a head of water for the use and benefit of their several mills and water privileges below the reservoir upon Mill River. They had already spent $2100 purchasing the rights and privileges of flowing the lands in and about the reservoir and in construction of the new dam. This agreement also laid out the shares and how to expend other sums of money to complete the reservoir. The agreement also detailed how to pay for any damages or expenses that might be incurred as a result of the construction, preservation, and maintenance of the reservoir. The party who held the most shares could decide how much to lower or raise the reservoir with a stipulation for the Hunt Wool Factory also having a say in the gate. The seven original owners of the Maspenock Dam and Reservoir were :
  • Smith Arnold and Company - 12 shares
  • Luke Aldrich - 2 shares
  • Joseph Ray - 5 shares
  • Seth and Eli Kelly - 6 shares
  • Clark Fisk - 6 shares
  • Pearley Hunt - 8 shares
  • Ebeneezer Wood - 5 shares
These shares passed hands many times after the initial reservoir company was founded. In 1833 Clark Fisk sold his shares and 25 acres of land on the eastern shoreline in Hopkinton to John Parkhurst. In 1839 Pearly Hunt sold his shares to Justin Eames. In 1847 Smith Arnold shares were sold to William Wood, Hiram Greenwood, Albert Wood, and Almond Adams. In 1856 Davenports shares to William Wood, Hiram Greenwood, Albert Wood and Almond Adams. In 1859 Almond Adams to Albert Wood. In 1860 Albert Wood and Almond Adams to the Social Manufacturing Company. In 1860 Social Manufacturing Company sold to the Draper Corporation.
1901 Maspenock Dam Gate
Around 1900, it was decided to repair and raise the dam in order to be able to better provide for the burgeoning industries downstream including the Draper Corporation which was the largest manufacturer of industrial looms in the United States and operated for over one hundred and thirty years. They provided employment to thousands and spawned the Town of Hopedale, Massachusetts. Construction work on the dam was completed during 1901. Costs of the work were met by contributions from the Lonsdale Co., Manville, Co., Lawton Spinning Co. and the Draper Corp. Smaller contributions were received from a few companies below Woonsocket R.I. This dam raised the lake seven feet higher than the dam that was there in 1833. Lake Maspenock remains at this level today. The Milford dam was maintained for many years by the Draper Corporation for power, water and as a means of reducing the possibility of floods. The Draper Corporation announced on January 23, 1930 that it had taken a controlling interest in the Milford Water Company, a condition that continued until 1949. Stock in the firm had been controlled by Draper since 1919. The final closing of the Draper Factory in 1980 left a huge empty building complex in the heart of the town and a reservoir no longer needed for industry. The Milford Water Company was responsible for the operation of the Maspenock Dam until 2006.
By The 2000s, Lake Maspenock and the Mill River were no longer needed for industry and attempts to take it for drinking water by Milford and Hopedale had failed years before. The Milford Water Company lost interest in ownership and maintenance of the dam and offered it for private sale. With organization from the Lake Maspenock Preservation Association, an article to purchase the Maspenock Dam was presented at Town Meeting on May 4, 2006. This passed by voice vote and the Town of Hopkinton has owned, repaired and maintained the dam using State and Federal funds since then including major repairs and a new gate being completed in 2019. The upper part of the old gate was left in place for historical purposes but no longer serves to open and close the gate.
Maspenock Dam Gate installed in 2019
Maspenock Dam Gate installed in 2019