“If you bulldoze your heritage, you become just anywhere.” Sarah delano, WHALE President 1966-1982

Waterfront Historic Area LeaguE (WHALE) Is a tale of “ordinary people who do extraordinary things”

WHALE was established in 1962, when urban renewal threatened entire neighborhoods. Its founders were committed to saving our city’s history and architectural heritage from “death by neglect and the tyranny of the bulldozer.”

Perhaps, Sarah Delano, WHALE’s President from 1966-1982, said it best, “if you bulldoze your heritage, you become just anywhere” WHALE was founded to ensure that New Bedford is “Not Just Anywhere.”

Over the past 50 years, WHALE has facilitated the completion of more than 50 restoration and preservation projects in the New Bedford area. Because of its non-profit status, WHALE can enter into a variety of real estate transactions including purchase, rehabilitation, sale, and deed restrictions. With these capabilities, WHALE has been able to save properties which could not be handled by the private sector.


WHALE - FIrst Half CenturyThey say a picture is worth a thousand words. We invite you to experience WHALE’s first half-century in pictures. Enjoy this ‘slide show’ produced by WHALE Board member Jay Avila, of Spinner Publications.

You’ll be astonished to see what New Bedford looked like 50+ years ago, before WHALE was born. You’ll mourn the loss of beautiful landmark buildings, demolished under Urban Renewal. You’ll be transfixed by the before and after pictures of WHALE-rescued properties.
Click Here to View.

Without WHALE, there would be no:

1960s

Complete Inventory of National Landmark Historic District
Benjamin Rodman House – 50 North Second Street
Reynolds Building

1970s

Abijah Hathaway House – 66 North Second Street
Andrew G. Pierce, Jr. House – 99 Madison Street
Andrew Robeson House – 32 William Street
Bedford Landing-Waterfront Historic District
Bourne Warehouse Trust 47-49 North Second Street
Caleb Spooner House – 22 Centre Street
Eggers Building
Haile Luther House – 70 North Second Street
Henry Beetle House 24 Centre Street
MacComber-Sylvia Building
McCullough Warehouse 96 Front Street
Seth Russell House 82-86 North Front Street
Sundial Building – 63 Union Street
Rodman Candleworks – 72 North Water Street
Wilson Stable – 38 Elm Street
William Tallman Russell House – 66 Russell Street
William Tallman Warehouse – 13 Centre Street

1980s

Edward Coffin Jones Carriage House
Hatch Properties – Hillman & Pleasant Streets
Rotch-Jones-Duff House – 396 County Street
Schooner Ernestina
William Hart House – Dartmouth
Zeiterion Theater – 684 Purchase Street

1990s

Benjamin Almy House – 150 Eighth Street
Connections Project
Custom House Square
Grinnell Congregate Home – 379 County Street
Harborvisions Charrette
Nathan and Polly Johnson House – 21 Seventh Street
New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park
Paul Revere Sign
Re-Design of Route 18 (funding awarded)

2000s

13 Hamilton Street
Elihu Akin House – 762 Dartmouth Street, South Dartmouth
National Park Visitors Center (Old Bank Building) – 33 William Street
Corson Building – 31 William Street
Louis Hathaway House – 27 Bethel street
Union Street Lofts – Union St., Pleasant St., & Purchase St.
Washington Square Gateway Neighborhood Action Plan
WHALE’s Mini Grant Program – 9 Washington Street
WHALE’s Mini Grant Program – 350 Purchase Street

2010s

Orpheum Theater – National Register Nomination
Route 18 Redesign
Fairhaven Historic District
Preservation Forum
Ingraham School – Rivet Street
Oscar Romero House – 8 Allen Street – formerly 24 Allen Street
John Howland Jr. House – 38 South Sixth Street
One Washington Square
New Bedford named one of Dozen Distinctive Destinations in the United States
525 Purchase Street
WHALE’s Mini Grant Program – 143 Pleasant Street
Religious Properties Workshop