New Bedford March 2011

I’m not sure what it is about this city but I can’t seem to get nice weather when I visit.

When my friend Nancy and I went to the Whaling museum last year it was cold, raw and rainy. That was also the trip where I bought the National Parks Passport book for the first time. I didn’t know what I had until I got home so I didn’t get the “Stamp” proving that I was there. I’ve been trying to get back down there ever since and something, usually snow, has stopped me every time I’ve planned to go.

So yesterday I said this is it. I’m going back to the Visitor Center so I can get my cancellation stamp. The sun was shining. It was 40 + degrees out. BUT the weather report said snow! You have got to be kidding me. The first day of spring was 3 days ago!

By the time I reached New Bedford, about 30 minutes from my house, the sky was overcast and the wind was starting to blow. The warm air was disappearing and there was starting to be a nip in the air. I quickly parked and headed out of the parking garage.

I almost missed it. As I was walking down the ramp to leave the garage I spotted an older classic car tucked in a corner parking space. The spot was so dark I almost didn’t see it. In fact, I think I only noticed it because I’ve gotten used to paying attention to my surroundings because of the Photo a Day Challenge. I have to always be on the lookout for things to photograph because sometimes creativity escapes me.

The car was in beautiful shape. The finish was shiny in spite of the fine coating of dust on it. I have no idea what kind of car it is , just that it’s a beauty and I feel lucky to have spotted it.

After grabbing a quick shot of the car, I headed the rest of the way out of the garage and up the street to the Visitor Center. As I walked along I couldn’t help but notice the beautiful detail on the old buildings in the area. New Bedford is a gritty, blue collar city and it makes no bones about it. But New Bedford wasn’t always struggling. Once it was the world leader and the wealthiest city in New England, maybe even the world. New Bedford was certainly the Whaling Capital of the World.

I’ve told that story in previous posts and I am sure I will tell it again in future posts but today I was more interested in the architecture, and that’s saying something coming from me. I never notice buildings. It’s a shortcoming that my friend Joe often points out to me! But today I was looking.

The Visitor Center is located in a old brick and brownstone building that was first used as a bank. Eventually it was sold and became the Bristol County Courthouse. In the 1970’s it became a bank again until Fleet Bank donated it to the historical society and it was converted to the Visitor Center as we see it today.


Right across the street is the Andrew Robeson House. Andrew Robeson was a wealthy whaling merchant and a staunch abolitionist. He built his Federal Style house on North 2nd St. in 1821. The grounds were extensive. Eventually the building was saved from being demolished when it was moved by the city to it’s current location in the historic district.

The other building the I really like in the same area is the U.S. Custom House. The Custom House was built in 1836 at a time when the nation was flush with custom-generated income. The building was designed by Robert Mills who later went on to design the Washington Monument. The building is built primarily of granite. This made it one of the first entirely fireproof federal buildings. This is also the oldest continually operating custom house in the US.

Well, time to go in and collect my stamp. See you tomorrow when we’ll explore a little more of New Bedford.

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