New Bedford’s Notorious National Club: One Final Look
I've never been to the National Club. And, needless to say, I never will. It's been years since the dive bar and its building was sold to a spinoff company of local restaurant and hotel kings, Lafrance Hospitality.
An inarguably impressive renovation is underway on one of New Bedford's most prominent corners. Once the 10 million dollar rebuild is complete, it will be the finishing touch on what has been a deliberate and successful strategy to bring the New Bedford Waterfront to the next level.
While I've never set foot inside the National Club, I have certainly caught wind of the reputation it had as a gritty, steely meeting place for fisherman and other clientele that don't worry about getting a little dirt under their fingernails.
Catherine Viera says her dad used to bring her and her sister to the National Club. "My father was a fisherman. He would teach us how to play pool. I was around 5 years old at the time. I'm 37 now and my sister is three years younger."
But the National Club wasn't always a place to bring kids. Legendary New Bedford newsman, Jim Phillips shared a story from about 10 years ago. "I was coming from a meeting at New Bedford City Hall when two guys rolled out the door and onto the sidewalk. They were fighting. The light changed so I had to move on. Can't tell you who won."
If we're going to be honest about it, Phillips' story was more along the lines of what the National Club was known for, and sometimes worse.
We came across some historic photos of the National Club that we just had to share. They were taken by local photographer, Phillip Mello roughtly 15 years ago. Ironically, the black and white photos really capture the spirit of the colorful bar.
Final Look at the National Club
Gallery Credit: Michael Rock
Gallery Credit: Karolyi