Howland House Saved from Demolition

September 2, 2010

In April 2010 WHALE, in partnership with the City of New Bedford and Mayor Scott Lang, saved the 1834 John Howland Jr. house from demolition and neglect by purchasing the structurally unsound building from its previous owners for $237,000. The rare, brick mansion has strong ties to the Howland family, a prominent New Bedford family, and our whaling history. Today, WHALE is working hard to raise the funds necessary to stabilize the property and put it on a path to becoming new again.

Howland House Contributors (click link to see contributors)

Today, with the strong support of the City of New Bedford and the Office of Housing and Community Development, WHALE is in the midst of arranging for Phase One Stabilization work, which involves the reconstruction of the roof. WHALE intends to remove the dormers, which were later additions, and put back the original roofline seen in historic photos. Our plans allow for the support beams on the center of the roof that can be used in the future to support a cupola on the roof – a feature we can see in the historic photographs and on the buildings “twin” next door that has since been lost.

Saved from the Wrecking Ball

In January 2005, a three-alarm fire ravaged the 1834 John Howland Jr. House located at 38 South Sixth Street in New Bedford, just south of downtown. The fire, which started in the basement, destroyed the roof, left gaping holes in the upper floors, and rendered the building untenantable. In October 2005, the fire-damaged Howland House was sold to F & S Enterprises of Rhode Island for $330,000.

For the past five years, the house has been exposed to the elements causing severe deterioration. In addition, the improper removal of structural support beams rendered the building even more structurally unsound and put it at great risk of collapse. In November 2009, the Attorney General’s Office and the City of New Bedford petitioned the Housing Court to In December 2009, F & S Enterprises applied for a demolition permit for the building.

Recognizing the architectural and historical significance of the Howland House and that WHALE was the only alternative to demolition, WHALE stepped in and purchased the building for $237,000 to save it from demolition and neglect. WHALE was able to close on sale of the Howland House using monies from its Neighborhood Restoration Revolving Fund (link to another page on the fund) which was established from grants from the 1772 Foundation and with a loan from Rockland Trust.

To date, WHALE has raised $204,500 of the purchase price for the Howland House.

$100,000    Emergency Grant from Secretary Galvin/Massachusetts Historical Commission
50,000    City of New Bedford, Community Development
25,000    Henry H. Crapo Charitable Foundation
29,500    Private donations (includes contributions from 100% of WHALE’s Board and staff)
$204,500    Raised to date for acquisition

Click HERE for a complete list of contributors.

About the house

  • Built in 1834 for John and Sarah Howland Jr.
  • Exceptional example of transitional Federal/Greek Revival style architecture and the substantial
  • wealth that was made in the whaling industry in New Bedford.
  • One of a complex of three remarkable and extremely rare, brick mansions built for the
  • Howland family on South Sixth Street
  • Contributing building in the County Street National Register Historic District.

About the Howland family

The Howland family was among New Bedford’s most prominent and wealthy families. A native of New Bedford, John Howland Jr. partnered with his brother James in “J & J Howland Merchants” on Middle Street and he was one of fifteen original trustees of the New Bedford Institution for Savings.The Howland family, unlike many of their Quaker counterparts who built their mansions and ostentatious homes on the main thoroughfare of County Street, chose to build their grand mansions and fine homes along Sixth Street.