By Thomas Grillo, Globe Correspondent, 8/24/2003

HOPKINTON -- Cherylann Lambert Walsh wants everyone to know that Hopkinton offers more than just the starting gate for the legendary Boston Marathon.

"Sure, we're proud of our history with the marathon," said Lambert Walsh, founder of Project Just Because, a charitable group that helps needy families. "But there's so much more to Hopkinton."

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Among a handful of little-known gems in town are a pair of state parks. The 1,450-acre Hopkinton State Park, on Cordaville Road (Route 85) offers two swimming areas, a sailboat launch, picnic tables, ballfields, and trails for hiking and cross-country skiing. Lesser-known Whitehall State Park, on Route 135, lacks beaches but is a good fishing spot.

The annual daylong Polyarts Festival, a gathering of local artists and performers, is a regional favorite. This year's event will be Sept. 20, with 76 artisans selling handmade wares including pottery, stained glass, sterling silver jewelry, sweaters, leather crafts, and more.

Hopkinton is the corporate headquarters of EMC Corp., the state's largest technology company, which employs 6,800 in Massachusetts. EMC, in addition to providing $1 million in annual real estate tax revenues, is a major contributor to the town's schools and recreational services.

Still, Hopkinton can't escape its appointment with history each Patriot's Day, when about 15,000 world-class marathoners commence the rush from Hopkinton to Copley Square in Boston. Starting in 1924, when the Boston Athletic Association moved the starting line from Ashland, Hopkinton has garnered worldwide attention.

As in other suburbs, Hopkinton's small-town flavor has eroded in recent years. Between 1990 and 2000, the population swelled 45 percent as home buyers were priced out of communities inside of Route 128.

Prices are rising in Hopkinton, too. In 1999, the median for a single-family home was $219,000, according to The Warren Group. This week, of the 71 single-family homes for sale in Hopkinton on the MLS Property Information Network, four were priced under $300,000, and 41 had asking prices from $539,900 to $1.8 million.

Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@hotmail.com.

This story ran in the Boston Globe on 8/24/2003.
© Copyright 2003 New York Times Company
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