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By Roger Chartier


Benjamin Dawson & Son
From Grocery to Brewery

1868 - 1977
In 1868, Benjamin Dawson started a small grocery store on the corner of Purchase and Merrimac Street.
His business was successful and he began to accumulate some wealth and property, and in 1880, he built a 3 story brick building for his grocery store on the corner of Purchase and Hazard.

By 1882, he became an importer and wholesaler of wine and spirits.

Benjamin Dawson was a member of New Bedford's Common Council for four years and on the board of aldermen for 2 years.

In 1897 his son Joseph was brought into the business as a partner, hence Benjamin Dawson & Son.

Joseph Dawson, Benjamin's son was also a city councilman for 4 years as well as the president of the city council for his last year of the 4 years in office. The company expanded.

Dawson & Son Brewery was founded in 1889 and closed in 1918 for prohibition.

In the 1892 City Directory Dawson is listed at 639 - 647 Purchase as a Bottler of Ale, Porter and Cider.
Dawson Brewery on Brook Street just north of Sawyer Street was built in 1899 and was one New England's largest breweries during the 1900's..

In 1907, the Dawson brewery is listed at 26 Brook Street and is no longer listed as a bottler.

In the 1916 City Directory, the building for the brewery listed it at 1657 - 1663 Purchase Street and 29 Brook St. Purchase runs parallel to Brook seperated by one block.

In 1933, the brewery was purchased by Benjamin Rockman and reopened as Dawson's Brewery, Inc.
Benjamin Rockman's nephew, Samuel Brown managed the brewery for 35 years.

In 1967, the brewery buildings were sold to Rheingold (Jacob Ruppert Inc. Forest Brewing Co.), and the brews were sold to Piels. Rheingold brewed their low calorie "Gablinger" brand at the "Dawson" brewery. The business closed in 1975 only to re-open then, to finally close, as a brewery in 1977.

Over the following years, the building had some un-permitted business situated in it including a massive amount of tires stored in the building which were later removed after the city came down on the owner..

The last owner of the building was Daniel Sylvia of 13 Mill Road, Acushnet.
The building burned in July of 1999, and the fire was determined to be of suspicious origin but no-one was charged.
At the time of the fire, it appeared to be used as an auto body repair facility, and there were no sprinkler systems in operation.
Sylvia bought the property at 29 Brook St. from Laurel Avenue L.LC. in September of 1997.

In year 2000, the state offered to provide $110,000 to clean up the property with money from the state's Abandoned Building Program.

Below 1892 New Bedford Directory1892 Dawsons Brewery  New Bedford  Directory -
Below 1916 New Bedford City Directory1916 New BEdford Directory listing for Dawson Brewery -
2010 map of former Dawson Brewery location

Dawson Beer Label -

Dawson Beer Label -