The Mass Cultural Council recently awarded Your Theatre $20,000 for a theatre reuse study of the First Baptist Church abutting City Hall. WHALE was awarded an additional $10,000 from the National Trust for Historic Preservation to contribute towards the study. WHALE will act as a project consultant and partner during the study assisting in the feasibility analysis and identification and application to development funding sources.
The project’s purpose is to perform a planning and architectural study of a theatre reuse at the historic First Baptist Church building (where Robert’s Rules of Order were first conceived) while also allowing the First Baptist Congregation to retain space for their services and mission work. Architectural work would include plans for the rehabilitative re-use and preservation of this iconic New Bedford landmark by transitioning it into performance space.The meetinghouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975 and is in need of immediate restoration and preservation.
As an added venue in the downtown, the theatre will enhance the vibrancy of the streetscape by bringing a historic building back to life, attract several thousand more potential customers for the restaurants and other businesses that populate the downtown area, and build upon the city’s revitalization which both the visitor and residents’ alike enjoy. The project will be another symbol in the Downtown New Bedford Historic District showing that reuse and restoration of historic buildings is central to the cultural and economic revitalization of the community.