Created By: New Bedford Preservation Society
427 County Street, James Arnold Mansion, 1821 Federal Style
James Arnold was born on September 9, 1781 in Providence, Rhode Island, the son of wealthy Thomas and Mary (Brown) Arnold. He came to New Bedford to work for whaling titan William Rotch Jr. and married Rotch’s daughter, Sarah, in 1807. Sarah Rotch Arnold (1786-1860) was an early community activist dedicated to social reform, religious tolerance, and horticultural beauty. James Arnold was a partner in his father in-law’s maritime enterprises. In 1821, he erected a grand Federal-style brick mansion on the hill overlooking the busy harbor. Arnold constructed his home on an estate that once stretched from County to Cottage Street and from Union to Clinton Street. Arnold became interested in horticulture and landscaping, and the gardens around the mansion were legendary. He made several trips to Europe, during which he collected a variety of trees, shrubs, and flowers that he transplanted to his extensive estate. James Arnold, in his will, entrusted Harvard College with funds to be used for the establishment and support of an arboretum, known as the Arnold Arboretum in Boston. The wealth of the whaling industry drew renowned people to the area and many of them stayed with the Arnolds, including former president John Quincy Adams, Herman Melville and John James Audubon.
The two-story brick mansion in the Federal style, was updated in the 1870's to include a mansard roof, and was revamped and expanded again in 1924 as a Colonial Revival structure when the Wamsutta Club, a local baseball team started by city Harvard graduates, purchased the property. The James Arnold Mansion Inc. was founded on September 1, 2016, as a historic preservation corporation. Currently, it operates as a private club. It also houses the New Bedford Museum of Glass.
This point of interest is part of the tour: New Bedford Pathways: Tour #1 New Bedford, More Than Colonials