Stabilization Work Begins on 1834 Howland House

October 14, 2010

Structurally unsound. Slated for demolition. Fire-damaged. Exposed to the Elements.

Workers from Wayne Construction Reconstruct the original roofline of the Howland House
A worker from Wayne Construction stands ready to reconstruct the roof at the Howland House

These terms correctly describe the 1834 John Howland Jr. House on 38 South Sixth Street in New Bedford. But, not for long. Thanks to WHALE, our members and supporters, and our partnership with the City of New Bedford, preservation of this endangered but rare, brick whaling merchant’s mansion is under way.

Phase One Stabilization work has begun. What was left of the fire-damaged roof has been removed and a new roof is being constructed. WHALE intends to put back the original roofline of the house, as seen in the historic photos of the house. WHALE will not be returning the dormers, which were a later addition, back to the house.

This preservation work is being funded by a loan from the City of New Bedford, Office of Housing and Community Development. The work is being completed by Wayne Construction.

Wayne Lefrancois, owner of Wayne Construction was not overwhelmed by the challenges of preserving this structurally unsound, historic building. He states, “It looks like a bomb hit it but it is a beautiful, historic building that is well worth preserving.”

To date, WHALE has raised $204,500 of the $237,000 acquisition price and $75,000 for emergency stabilization measures, which includes Phase 1 and 1A Stabilization. WHALE still needs to raise another $150,000 to $175,000 for building framing and complete envelop stabilization, which will involve reconstructing the fallen parapets and repairing and repointing the brick exterior among other necessary preservation measures.

“If WHALE didn’t take the risk and step in to save this magnificent historic property,” added Bergson, “this building – its architecture and history – would be gone now. We’d be looking at a vacant lot and who knows what would take its place. Thankfully, the Howland House will be around for another 175 years.”

Phase One Stabilization should be complete in November and Phase 1A stabilization, which will repair gaping holes in the floors that currently exist throughout the house, will be going out to bid shortly. Both phases are slated to be complete by the end of 2010. At that time, the Howland House will be weather tight. And, just in time for the impending winter weather.