New Bedford Building Predates George Washington’s Election
Think about how much has happened since George Washington was inaugurated to his first term as President of the United States on April 30, 1789. There is a building in downtown New Bedford that predates that momentous occasion.
There are a lot of old buildings in this historic city, but the oldest structure still standing is the Mariners' Home, built in 1787. The Mariners' Home is located on Johnny Cake Hill, next door to the Seamen's Bethel, built in 1832.
You may not be aware that the Mariners' Home was once the private residence of William Rotch, Jr. and his family – and it wasn't on Johnny Cake Hill.
"This three-story Federal style structure was moved to this site from its original location from the southwest corner of William and North Water Streets," according to the National Park Service (NPS).
NPS says, "William Rotch, Jr. and his family moved to New Bedford from Nantucket between May and June 1788 to take over the New Bedford branch of the family sperm whaling business."
William Rotch, Jr. died in 1850. After his passing, Rotch's daughter, Sarah Rotch Arnold, donated the home to the New Bedford Port Society (NBPS). The NBPS moved the house up to Johnny Cake Hill, where it became known as the Mariners' Home.
The National Park Service says, "Beginning in 1851, the Ladies Branch of the New Bedford Port Society for the Moral Improvement of Seamen (established in 1830) operated the Mariners' Home as a safe and moral boarding house for whalers, fishermen, and other mariners in the Port of New Bedford."
The Mariner's Home was opened "as a home for transient mariners in 1857."
Today, the Mariner's Home is used for office space and exhibitions.
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