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This site - work in progress.

If you have any public domain photographs of historical interest to donate, whether scanned or printed please contact the webmaster, Roger Chartier and your submission will be credited if it is displayed on this site.

By Roger Chartier


Local New Bedford, Ma. History
1880 - 1899 In Chronological Order


M C Swift ad from the "Shipping List" publication 1887 - New BEdford, Ma. -

1887 Advertisement from the "Shipping List" a New Bedford newspaper of the day

February 2
The Southern Massachusetts Telephone Company was organized and their telephone service introduced to the city.

Pairpoint glass began doing business here, and the next year added another building to their plant.

Grand Opera House - Charles W. Clifford, trustee of the Grace Church Society purchased a lot and building on Union Street on November 26, 1881. A committee was formed to remodel the church into a theater. A notable architect from Boston employed local artisans to do the job.
On March 28, 1882, the Union Square Theater Company gave the first entertainment performance.


1881through World War I
Between these dates, thirty-two cotton manufacturing companies, worth approximately $100,000,000 and employing about 30,000 people, were incorporated in New Bedford.

This was to be the salvation of the local economy as the downfall of whaling had a devastating impact.


The establishment of the Swain Free school for post high school education came into being


The Swain Free School
for general higher education started to offer courses .. The money was bequeathed by William W. Swain and the school was opened in his former home.

In 1902, it became the "Swain School of Design" an art school and gained national acclaim.

In 1988, New Bedford's Swain School merged with Southeastern Massachusetts University'.

It became part of the College of Visual and Performing Arts.

The Acushnet Mills Corp. was organized and a mill built the following year. The Grinnell manufacturing and Oneko woolen mills were incorporated.
New Bedford building ordinance restricted tenements to 3 floors.

St Luke's Hospital began operations as a private foundation in 1884, on the Taber Estate at 81 Fourth St. (now called Purchase Street), between Madison and Russell. It had 11 beds and admitted 62 patients in its first year.

They were also connected with a training School for nurses and graduated a class every year.
It later moved to a larger facility on 101 Page Street.

Now it is part of the Southcoast Hospitals Group

New Bedford Manufacturing Company was organized, and the mill built that year.
In March, the New Bedford Board of Trade was organized.

The city made extensive street and sewer improvements. Importantly improvements were made to North street west of Cedar.

A special appropriation was made for the improvement of Point Road (Now known as Rodney French Blvd.)

The Salvation Army is Established in New Bedford
New Bedford owned 86 whaling vessels of the 135 in the entire country.
Thirty years earlier in 1855 it had 311.
A census in this year listed 15,413 males and 17,980 females. The total census was 33,393
A large addition to the library was built, and it occupied the upper floor while the mayor's office and other public offices occupied the first floor. (See 1910)

The Edison Illuminating Company located a plant here and began supplying light and power in July of 1886.
Electricity came to New Bedford as wires are strung. New Bedford was an early proponent of electricity as it's production and methods of distribution had been invented only 7 years prior by Edison and improved by others.

The second Train Station was built and can be seen in this 1905 photograph with historical text to accompany it.
The first Sacred Heart school and convent was built and opened the following year. (See 1876)
The Sacred Heart parish bought land on Mt. Pleasant Street for the first Sacred Heart Cemetery.
The New Bedford - Fairhaven railway line is consolidated with the Acushnet Street Railway Company. This becomes the Union Street Railway Company.

The city purchased land and erected the City Stables.

The Oak Grove Cemetery was enlarged.

The orphan's home was on the Corner of French Ave. and Cove St.
It was organized in 1842 and in 1887 it had 30 inmates of both sexes.
The Hathaway manufacturing Company was organized in December, and the mill erected in 1889.
In April 1888, City Manufacturing Company organized and a mill began in December.
The Howland Mills were established in this year.

The New Bedford Clearing House was established on September 1, 1888
On Aug. 3, Five whaling ships were lost off Point Barrow, Alaska, resulting loss of $60,000 to the New Bedford Industry.

The Second Industrial Fair was held in New Bedford at the Adelphi Rink on the corner of County and Mill Streets.
New Bedford and many other cities displayed their products.
Textiles were the more prevalent of the products on display.

The new jail on Ash Street running from Court to Union Street was built as an addition to the old one built in 1828. The new section cost $80,000.00 and had 287 cells. Long term prisoners made shoes in the prison's factory. Lizzie Borden was arrested on August 11, 1892 and jailed there. See the Local Links page for more info on the Jail.
The YMCA moved to 147 William Street, and offered a wide range of social, educational and fitness programs.. 
The water service is brought to the home on the site of 690 Cottage Street, currently owned by Normand and Marcelle Chartier.
In 1889 The electric company was operating 8 steam powered electric dynamos capable of generating 375 to 435 horsepower

Bennett Manufacturing began erecting a mill, and the second followed soon afterwards.
Nov. 15 Acushnet Co-operative Bank was organized.
1889 The sturdy brick structure that was Sacred Heart School on Robeson Street replaced the school and convent that had been built only 3 years prior and only opened 2 years prior.
The Gas company bought out the Edison Electric company and controlled both electrical and gas utilities for the city. Therefore, there was born the New Bedford Gas and Edison Light Company.
Denny Shay's Barroom - New BEdford, Ma 'ate  1800's -
click the picture for a larger image
Denny Shay's Barroom was on the Corner of Elm and Acushnet Avenue.
Note the horse attended to by israel Sher.
Bartenders are John Bohan and Fred Ling Facing are
Joe Barbosa and the dapper Denny Shay
with his dog a dalmatian resting comfortably on the floor.


1887 ad from Whalemen's Shipping List - New BEdford, Ma. -
click for larger image
Don't be a Douderfunk - ad from Whalemen's Shipping List - New BEdford, Ma. -
click for larger
doscks www.WhalingCity.netCutting Whale
New Bedford Docks
Hetty (Henrietta) Green -
Hetty (Henrietta) Green
The richest woman in the world at one time.
Nov. 21, 1834 – July 3, 1916
Sacred Heart School - New Bedord -
Sacred Heart School
as it looked in the 1960's
It was built in 1889 on Robeson St.
between Summer and Cottage
Oil Barrels and Whaling Ships -
New Bedford Docks
Whaling Ships and
Casks of whale oil .