Captain Paul Cuffe Park 2.0

Island Foundation awards $300,000 to boost project

Boosted by this generous gift, the Board is pleased to announce that it will quadruple the size of the existing Captain Paul Cuffe Park and significantly enhance the interpretive elements and programmatic use of the space. Ideally, the Park will be dedicated in September 2017, 200 years to the month of Cuffe’s death.

We envision Captain Paul Cuffe Park as a dynamic and active space, ideal for educational purposes and community events, while also promoting visitor discussion. The current iteration of the Park, conceived of by Jim Lopes, Esq. and dedicated in 2011, is located at the corner of Union Street and Johnny Cake Hill, adjacent to the site where Cuffe operated his store, Cuffe & Howards. Because of its location, opposite to normal Museum traffic flow, it has been underutilized. Since the opening of the Wattles Jacobs Education Center (WJEC) in September 2015, and the subsequent relocation of large HVAC units, creation of new points of egress and access, and integration of the Sundial Building into the Museum’s campus, we have a unique opportunity to elevate Captain Paul Cuffe Park both physically and metaphorically so that the site reaches its full potential. To capitalize on this opportunity, Trustees will expand the Park’s size by a factor of four and unite Johnny Cake Hill with the WJEC. This will provide a large open space, transforming Cake Hill, while linking and activating a connection with the recently renovated Seaman’s Bethel to revitalize the last quadrant of land on our campus. (approx. 10,000 sq. ft.)

The Buildings & Grounds Committee, chaired by John N. Garfield Jr., has retained Civitects as architects, Sinton and Michener as landscape designers, Farland Corps as engineer and Page Building Construction as project manager. Over the winter and spring, we will convene a group of civic leaders to further develop the interpretative themes within the Park. Likely these will include (but are not limited to) various plaques and panels, a sculpture honoring Cuffe, and a large bronze reproduction of Cuffe’s own ship’s compass, a treasure in the Museum’s collection.

A companion exhibition exploring New Bedford’s role in the Abolitionist Movement will premiere concurrently in the Map Room in the museum.

Cuffe Park concept drawing


To learn more about the Captain Paul Cuffe Park project, please contact Sarah Budlong at 508-717-6850.