Created By: New Bedford Preservation Society
23 Centre Street John Harrison Building c. 1820*
The John Harrison Building, composed of rubble granite faced with brick, was built shortly after an 1820 fire that burned most of this block on Centre Street. The land which this building stands upon was part of the 10-acre lot purchased by William Rotch in 1765. In October 1809, John Harrison purchased this lot, but it was not until 1814 that Harrison built the building on this site. Harrison and Bennett Wilcox were in business together as painters. Most of the structures on Centre Street were wood frame and they were all destroyed in a large fire in 1820. When new buildings were built, most were constructed of brick to prevent such a tragedy from occurring again. This commercial property changed ownership several more times during the 1800’s being owned by George Howland, William Rotch, Jr., Edward C. Jones, and B. R. Almy. All of these men used the property as rental income. In 1906, the Almy heirs sold it to James L. Humphrey, Jr., for cold storage for his wholesale butter plant on North Front Street. In 1938, it was sold to General Ice & Cold Storage, which manufactured ice and was used for cold and fur storage. Warren Goodspeed served as President of the company until 1946, when Harry Kaller purchased the property for his wholesale meat company. Today the Harrison Building houses the Fiber Optic Center and other commercial ventures.
This point of interest is part of the tour: New Bedford Pathways: Tour #4 Waterfront Historic District