The First Baptist Church of New Bedford, the birthplace of “Robert’s Rules of Order”, has been named a NationalTreasure by the National Trust Historic Preservation. This designation is an honor, but also emphasizes that the site is one of the most endangered historic icons in the country. The landmark was chosen since its restoration is based on a national reuse model for congregations to become sustainable through shared space.
Across the country, historic churches are facing more financial setbacks than ever before. With dwindling numbers, congregations have struggled to maintain their facilities, yet their landmarks usually hold the richest history within their neighborhoods. Built in 1829 in the Greek Revival style, this church has national significance with one of its members, Lt. Henry Martyn Robert, achieving world-wide acclaim for creating the standard for parliamentary procedures after moderating a disorderly meeting held at the church. For the past decade the church has retained too much moisture and could be damaged beyond repair without immediate attention. WHALE believes repurposing the First Baptist Church can transform the Upper William St. neighborhood with a current creative non-profit performing arts market use while preserving its historic fabric.