Historic Structures

Seaman's Bethel Church, New Bedford Massachusetts

Date added: December 21, 2009 Categories: Massachusetts Church Early Colonial

A waterfront chapel linked sentimentally with the whaling industry and Herman Melville's novel, Moby Dick. It was built for the New Bedford Port Society

In 1867, after a fire, the front of the building was redesigned and the tower was added, in the interior the seating plan was reversed. Also a fictitious pulpit shaped like the prow of the ship was installed in 1961.

The bethel was immortalized in Herman Melville's epic whaling tome, Moby-Dick, as the "Whaleman's Chapel" in a scene where a fire-and-brimstone sermon is given from a bow-shaped pulpit.

The pulpit was a Melville invention, but a replica of the one described in the book was added to the chapel in 1961. The names of New Bedford whalers killed, and later all area fishermen, are noted on the walls of the bethel. Also noted is the pew that Melville sat in when he visited in 1840.

Seaman's Bethel Church, New Bedford Massachusetts August 1961 SOUTH AND WEST ELEVATIONS
August 1961 SOUTH AND WEST ELEVATIONS