Groundbreaking News!

November 9, 2011

Join WHALE and the CITY OF NEW BEDFORD at the Groundbreaking ceremony for the reconstruction of One Washington Square at the site of the iconic Queen Anne home once located at the junction of County and South Sixth Streets in New Bedford on Thursday, November 10 at 10AM.

Residents of the Washington Square neighborhood in the South End of New Bedford will be getting back an iconic property, the Queen Anne home located at One Washington Square. The majestic Queen Anne was slated to become WHALE’s 48th preservation project when it was stolen from the neighborhood on January 20, 2008 by arsonists. A three alarm fire spread rapidly through the 126-year old wooden structure, ravaging the building and due to safety concerns, required complete demolition of the structure the following day.  Recently, WHALE purchased the vacant lot from the City of New Bedford with plans to give residents of the neighborhood what they have been asking for the past three years – their iconic house back proudly on its corner lot.

“The arson fire at One Washington Square was a tragedy for the neighborhood and the city,” said New Bedford Mayor Scott Lang. “We cannot let arsonists destroy our neighborhoods. We heard the residents of the Washington Square neighborhood loud and clear that they wanted their house back and the city responded appropriately by issuing an RFP for the reconstruction of the magnificent architectural building that was taken from us. Once again, the City is pleased to partner with WHALE to save our architectural heritage and character and to give back to this neighborhood and its residents what was taken from it. Future generations of New Bedford citizens will appreciate this reconstruction of a New Bedford landmark.”

The reconstruction of One Washington Square tops the list for historic preservation goals for the neighborhood in a neighborhood development plan led by residents in 2008.  The Washington Square Gateway Neighborhood Action Plan outlines short-, mid-, and long-term goals for the neighborhood in historic preservation, open space, streets and sidewalks, and safety.

“Washington Square residents said they wanted the house back and WHALE is in an unique position to do just that,” noted Lisa Bergson, WHALE executive director. “WHALE had completed all documentation necessary to restore the house before the fire and, as a result, now we can accurately reconstruct the house and fully meet national preservation standards.” Bergson notes that WHALE has been working on the plans for the reconstruction for a couple of years, but the project was put on hold to deal with the emergency situation at the Howland House. Since much of the stabilization work for the Howland House has been completed and the Howland House is no longer in danger of collapse, WHALE can turn its attention back to One Washington Square.  “One Washington Square is not just a house; iIt is a symbol of rebirth and revitalization for this neighborhood. Once it is completed, it will be a special place to live.”

“We agree with WHALE and the residents”, added Mayor Lang. “that One Washington Square was an iconic property that stood at a critical point in this neighborhood – a gateway to the County Street Corridor. It was one of the finest examples of Queen Anne architecture we have in New Bedford. Nothing else belongs on that triangle.”

Shortly after the groundbreaking, WHALE will begin Phase One construction at the site, which involves excavating, pouring the foundation, building the first floor kneewall , and capping it for the winter.  Wayne Construction will be handling this phase of the reconstruction. Next spring, WHALE is planning to start Phase Two construction – building the frame of the house.

Anyone who wishes to support this neighborhood revitalization project can make a contribution to WHALE’s Revolving Fund – a dedicated, restricted fund for preservation projects in New Bedford by clicking HERE.