Wednesday, March 23, 2022

The Seaman's Bethel, New Bedford, Massachusetts - Weathervane Wednesday

 This weathervane was photographed in New Bedford, Massachusetts. 

Last year I visited New Bedford, Massachusetts and saw the Whaling Museum and the Seamans Bethel.  I was excited to see the weathervane atop the Bethel's short steeple!  It is quite intricate even though it lacks the cardinal points, and it is a rare painted weathervane.  

The weathervane depicts a whaling ship at sea, with rough waves painted along the hull.  It is strung with metal wire rigging, and painted to show the portholes and the sails. There is even a flag waving from one of the masts.  This weathervane appears to be wooden from a close up view of the photograph, which revealed what looks like wood under the peeling paint. 

The Seamans Bethel includes a chapel and a mariner's home built in 1832, and is operated by the charitable organization The New Bedford Port Society.  Itis located in the New Bedford Historic District, and is a National Historic Landmark.  This area is now the New Bedford Whaling National Historic Park. 

The Seamans Bethel is a popular historic site for events such as weddings and corporate receptions.  It has been used as a location for in the 1851 novel Moby Dick by Herman Melville, and is in movies such as the 1956 film version of Moby Dick which starred Gregory Peck and Orson Welles, and in the 1922 film Down to the Sea in Ships.  It is located across the street from the Whaling Museum complex.  If you take a peek inside the chapel you will see the pulpit shaped like the bow of a ship.  This pulpit is featured in the 1956 movie, with Orson Welles as the preacher.  

Seamen's Bethel
A non-denominational church
Dedicated 1832
New Bedford Port Society
The Whalemen's Chapel

Seaman's Bethel
"In the same new
Bedford there stands
a whalemans chapel
and few are the
moody fishermen
shortly bound for
the Indian or Pacific
Oceans who failed
to make a Sunday
visit to this spot"
               Moby Dick

The Whalemans
Herman Melvilles
Moby Dick
Mariners Home

For the truly curious:

The Seamans Bethel website:   

The New Bedford Port Society/Seamen's Bethel and Mariner's Home
15 Johnny Cake Hill
New Bedford, Massachusetts

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To Cite/Link to this blog post: Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "The Seaman's Bethel, New Bedford, Massachusetts - Weathervane Wednesday", Nutfield Genealogy, posted March 23, 2022, ( accessed [access date]). 

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